The Mid-Texas Symphony is ready to take an artistic journey through music with the upcoming concert season.

This year’s selections consist of pieces with influences from Spain and Germany and are full of the rhythm of life.

With the Mid-Texas Symphony’s new Executive Director Jason Irle and new Music Director and Conductor Akiko Fujimoto at the helm, the 42nd season is looking to be a fresh beginning for the long-running organization. 

“What fans can expect is a new chapter for the Mid-Texas Symphony,” Irle said. “Mid-Texas Symphony has a solid tradition and place here in our community. But, with Akiko being new and her bringing a different flavor to the menu, I think that fans should be prepared for the down-home, grassroots Mid-Texas Symphony love that it receives every year. Be prepared for some new and exciting programming,”

Her new role with the symphony is exciting, said Fujimoto, who plans to use the experience to grow personally and artistically. 

“I’m here, and I’m the leader, and that feels very, very exciting,” Fujimoto said. “I feel like this is the beginning of a new chapter for both me and the orchestra. The orchestra will mean a lot to me, creatively and personally. I’m just really looking forward to getting to know the whole community and, of course, the orchestra. I want it to be a great kickoff and hope the community can come out and see this new beginning.”

A Postcard from Spain

The season will start at 4 p.m. Sept. 15 with concert 1: A Postcard from Spain at Jackson Auditorium with performances by guest artist Ana Maria Ugarte. 

With pieces like Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espagnol” and the “Siete Canciones Populares Espanoles” performed by Ugarte, A Postcard from Spain is meant to be a romantic introduction to the season by the symphony, Fujimoto said. 

“So the first piece is Rimsky-Korsakov who is a Russian composer, and he wrote ‘Capriccio Espagnol,’ the opening piece of the concert,” she said. “And through his music he depicts iconic things about Spain like the bullfights the Spanish guitar, dancing, and he puts his own spin on them and writes very visual descriptive music about Spain.”

The second half of the show will include a set of seven songs by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla with Ugarte singing. 

“I saw her sing these songs many years ago and I never forgot about them,” Fujimoto said.

A German Celebration

The symphony will host A German Celebration with its second concert at 4 p.m. Oct. 6 at Canyon High School Performing Arts Center, with performances by the New Braunfels Gemischter Chor Harmonie. 

With the area full of German heritage, the performance is a nod to the history of New Braunfels featuring classics such as Bach’s “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7,” Fujimoto said. 

“(New Braunfels Gemischter Chor Harmonie) is a choir dedicated to singing German music and we’re featuring them as our guest artists, and they are going to join us to sing some very well-known German pieces of music,” Fujimoto said. 

The show will open with Brahms’ “Tragic Overture” and continue with Schubert’s “An die Musik” and other famous pieces that are a blend of Austrian and German, Irle said. 

“This concert represents all of the greatest kinds of Austrian-German composers,” Fujimoto said. “It’s basically like the greatest hits of Austrian-German composers. The Austrian-German repertoire can be considered the bread and butter of any Symphony Orchestra and I feel very fortunate that we’re performing in a kind of German town with a choir that is dedicated to singing in German.” 

Holiday Favorites

Jump starting the holiday season at 4 p.m. Dec. 15 is Holiday Favorites at the Jackson Auditorium with guest performances by a local children’s chorus as well as a sing-a-long of “Sleigh Ride.” 

“You’ll hear everything familiar — carols and Christmas songs arranged for the orchestra. Also, the Children’s Chorus of Seguin will be performing with us,” Fujimoto said. 

With selections from the “Nutcracker” and other Christmas favorites, the event is a walk through nostalgia for everyone. 

“I’m looking forward to the holiday concert. That’s always a lot of fun,” Irle said. “It seems to be lining up to be a very fun night. People all love Christmas songs so you can’t go wrong with it. Families really enjoy starting their holidays off with this type of concert.”

String Fever

Guests will get a little String Fever with concert four at 4 p.m. Feb. 23 at Smithson Valley High School Auditorium with guest performances by the Smithson Valley High School Orchestra. 

“String Fever is a side-by-side where the string section of the Smithson Valley High School orchestra will perform alongside the string section of the Mid-Texas Symphony,” Irle said.

With pieces like Strauss’s “Pizzicato Polka” and Mosier’s “Ride of the Rangers,” the first-time collaboration is looking to be an eventful one, Fujimoto said.

“We’re also playing two pieces by two of the most important African-American composers,” she said. “The first one is William Grant Still, who was the first African-American composer to have a piece played by a professional orchestra in America. And the second will be a piece by George Walker that we will do alongside Smithson Valley students. So we are very excited to highlight those two composers on this program.” 

Rhythm of Life 

The final concert of the season, Rhythm of Life, will feature San Antonio Symphony concertmaster Eric Gratz performing the “Zigeunerweisen” on the violin. 

“Rythym is invaluable to our lives,” Fujimoto said. “Without it, our lives would be very boring and flat. So this concert showcases how rhythm gives life to everything. So we’re going to start with ‘Fanfare Ritmico,’ which was written by one of the most prominent living composers today. Following that, we are going to perform the ‘Czech Suite’ by Dvorak and various other pieces .... (Gratz) is going to be our soul of the concert.” 

The beginning of the show will showcase local young violinists who learned to play under the Suzuki method — one of the most popular methods of teaching the violin in the world, Fujimoto said. 

“There are certain teachers who teach in the style of Suzuki throughout the world. These are either through community music academies or people’s private studios that these kids have been learning the style,” she said. “They are going to play a little something at the top of the show. It should be very exciting.”

The last concert is at 4 p.m. April 5 at Jackson Auditorium.

The decision by Fujimoto to end the season with the topic of life was an intentional one. She credits rhythm and music, symphonic music especially, as the ultimate communicator of the human story. 

“I wanted to end with something broad and universally human,” Fujimoto said. “I think symphonic music tells the story of human existence better than any other art form. I really believe that. Rhythm is the engine of life that propels us forward, and I think each piece you’ll find to be very exciting and riveting in its own way.”

Season tickets range from $25 and $50 with discounts for military and senior patrons. They are available at www.mysymphony.org, by phone at 830-463-5353 or at the Mid-Texas Symphony office at 1000 W. Court St. 

Joe Martin is a staff writer for the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at joe.martin@seguingazette.com .

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