Members of the San Antonio Symphony and their audience for "Fiesta Baroque and San Fernando Cathedral" during Fiesta 2013. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

There are at least four good reasons to step out of your weekend routine to attend the Sunday evening performance of the San Antonio Symphony at San Fernando Cathedral.

One, is the program, featuring the very accessible music of Italy’s greatest Baroque composer, Antonio Vivaldi, and the lesser known Francesco Maria Veracini. The music will be sublime at times, exuberant at other times, all of it intensely emotional. If you and classical music are just meeting for the first time, this would be a wonderful first date. Afterwards, you’ll want a second date.

Two, historic San Fernando Cathedral is a setting where music has lifted the hearts of people in San Antonio for 285 years. To be part of that continuum is palpable to the listener seated in the wooden pews, taking in the restored 18th and 19th century surroundings. You do not have to be Catholic or even religious to appreciate the spiritual experience of convening with others people, mostly locals, others visiting San Antonio. San Fernando beckons visitors who come to explore the city’s history and culture. It’s part of my World Heritage understanding of San Antonio, even if it was not included in the official UNESCO designation.

San Antonio Symphony Concertmaster Eric Gratz
San Antonio Symphony Concertmaster Eric Gratz

Three, this is your opportunity to see and hear Concertmaster Eric Gratz up close and personal. The symphony’s first violinist is only 25 years old, hardly the customary age of concertmasters leading most major symphonies.

Anyone present for Gratz’s solo performance of Barber’s Violin Concerto at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 29 will agree that he is an amazing virtuoso. The tall, lean Gratz seems impossibly talented for someone his age, and the intimacy of the cathedral and alternating moods and drama of Baroque will showcase Gratz and his violin, an instrument that really needs no showcase.

Four, symphony-goers who are only familiar with Symphony Conductor and Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing will be taken with the precision and elegant form of Associate Conductor Akiko Fujimoto, who conducts 40 programs a year in San Antonio and is known to many season ticket holders for the engaging tutorials she offers before regular symphony performances.

San Antonio Symphony Associate Conductor Akiko Fujimoto
San Antonio Symphony Associate Conductor Akiko Fujimoto

The program 

Show starts at 7 p.m.

Veracini Ouverture No. 1 in B-flat major
Veracini Ouverture No. 6 in G minor
Vivaldi From L’estro armonico, Concerto No. 6, RV 356 in A minor
Vivaldi From L’estro armonico, Concerto No. 9, RV 230 in D major

From the San Antonio Symphony website:

“Be dazzled by music of Vivaldi and Veracini, two Italian baroque composers whose rivalry inspired them to create an abundance of delightful and exuberant works. Concertmaster Eric Gratz acts as soloist and leader in two concertos from Vivaldi’s ground-breaking L’estro armonico (harmonic invention), which are works of sparkling charm with sheer virtuosity. The program opens with two works by Veracini, a synthesis of Italian concertos and German orchestral suites conducted by Akiko Fujimoto.”

Click here to buy tickets, which are $30.

*Top image: Members of the San Antonio Symphony and their audience for “Fiesta Baroque and San Fernando Cathedral” during Fiesta 2013. Photo by Iris Dimmick.


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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is editor of the San Antonio Report.