Image courtesy of Tobin Center.
Image courtesy of Tobin Center.

One of the major organizations that helped shape the artist I am today needs help. What kind of artist am I? The kind that performed in “Ragtime” with The Playhouse at The Empire Theatre. The kind that would perform pop-up Random Acts of Violins with public radio during the day, then rush over to The Woodlawn Theatre to play Young Frankenstein. The kind that played in Aerial Horizon’s “Echo.”

I’m fortunate to have so many performance opportunities available to me, and I always feel it is important to note how this all began: with the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio – more commonly known as YOSA.

But right now, it needs help to put on a highly-anticipated – but underfunded – show on June 27. YOSA and some of San Antonio’s best-known musical acts will come together to perform Radiohead’s landmark 1997 album “OK Computer” in a unique concert event at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Backed by a full symphony orchestra of YOSA musicians, artists including Nina Diaz, Demitasse, Pop Pistol, Nicolette Good, Alyson Alonzo, Femina-XLonely Horse, and more will reinvent some of the most iconic alternative rock songs of the 1990s.

That is, if they can afford it. The nonprofit has launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. So far, only $1,025 has been donated towards its $5,000 goal.

“We need to rent rehearsal space; rent the performance venue; pay the stage crew, lighting director, and audio engineer; contract live audio recording; and create a dozen orchestral arrangements for the musicians to play. Backers of this project will play a key role in positioning YOSA to bring this exciting project to the stage,” states the Kickstarter page.

Click here to view the campaign and donate.

As a a YOSA alumnus, I can attest to the incredible and effective things it has done (and will do) to spread music appreciation and education.

From left: Troy Peters, Branford Marsalis, and John Zarco. Courtesy photo.
From left: Troy Peters, Branford Marsalis, and John Zarco. Courtesy photo.

The “OK Computer” concert is a testament to that it’s all thanks to Tory Peters, Music Director for YOSA. Peters’ idea of an orchestral rewrite of Radiohead’s “OK Computer” is not just a derivative project feeding off of Steve Reich’s Radio Rewrite.

This hasn’t been done yet on a scale this huge. This show will combine local music from almost all genres for all ages. San Antonio deserves a show like this.

I was in YOSA for about seven years. During those seven years I was tutored by various musicians in the San Antonio Symphony, performed with world famous musicians such as Jaime Laredo and Jon Anderson (from the band YES), premiered a composition for string orchestra (Organic Genesis), and got to tour China, England, and Wales. But those are just the “professional” accomplishments I received from YOSA. I also gained so many memories, key and almost proverbial lessons about art, and lifelong friends from this incredible group. My artistic and personal life would be substantially different were I not to have had YOSA as a part of my youth.

YOSA performing in England. Photo by Michele Patton.
YOSA performing in England. Photo by Michele Patton.

If Troy Peters has an idea, you can trust it will yield incredible results. He’s the driving force behind bringing national talent to San Antonio to play with youth. It was also with Peters that the YOSA Pop-Up Orchestra started to play modern songs in public places like the airport. I was able to perform in multiple Stop! and Feel The Music events, even arranging some songs for the group (such as “Call Me Maybe” and “Chasing Cars”).

Then there was the inclusion of YOSA in Luminaria, during which I rapped a bit of Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick Push” with Jonathan Raveneau and the orchestra, and penned my own lyrics for YOSA Style – a parody of Gangnam Style (the jury’s still out on whether this was one of my most proud or… least proud moments in my artistic career). Personal pride set aside, I think all of these performances were adored by any who experienced them. We have the creativity of Peters to thank for that.

You’ve heard the complaints. “There’s nothing to do in San Antonio – I’m going to Austin where all the cool stuff is.” OK, fine, yes: there is cool stuff in Austin. Sure. But there are incredible things happening here. I’ve spoken with performers who come here to do gigs, and even they say that we have more real art happening and less filler. San Antonio has quantity, and Substance. Just talk to any of the featured artists for the concert, or to me: there’s so much happening we can’t even do it all. We are busy because of gigs and new venues and refurbished venues – and events like “OK Computer Live with YOSA.” And it’s a good busy – a necessary busy. We are giving San Antonians what they have told us they want. But there’s more to it than just artists performing.

We need your help. More specifically for this instance, YOSA needs your help. This is the kind of event that needs to happen in San Antonio.

Here’s the good news: San Antonio is huge, with plenty of people who love and are willing to give to the arts. You can be one of these people. We, the artists of San Antonio, trust you to support us as much as you trust us to give great material. We are capable, and willing. But we need your help.

Thanks in advance, and I hope to see you on June 27, 8 p.m. at the Tobin Center.

YOSA at Stonehenge. … It says YOSA, I promise. Photo by Alice Frederick.
YOSA at Stonehenge. … It says YOSA, I promise. Photo by Alice Frederick.

*Featured/top image: Image courtesy of Tobin Center.

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Darian Thomas. Courtesy photo.

Darian Thomas

Darian Thomas was born and raised in San Antonio. He studied at Mannes The New School for Music, and is currently a Music Composition major with a minor in Philosophy at the University of the Incarnate...