Concert No 6: Americana Goes Classic!

Singer/songwriter Stewart Mann and brother, Garrett, of The Statesboro Revue.

Singer/songwriter Stewart Mann and brother, Garrett, of The Statesboro Revue.

In the world of musical fusion, few smash-ups have been as successful as an ever-increasingly wide range of musical genres/artists  performing with symphony orchestras. From Willie Nelson and the Austin Symphony, Eric Clapton and the London Philharmonic Symphony, Elton John and the Melbourne Symphony, singer/songwriters and Symphony orchestras have produced magic all around the world by joining forces.

 The Statesboro Revue and Mid-Texas Symphony are combining the groovy sound of Americana and fusing it with the sweeping sounds of orchestral music. The fusion takes both genres and ramps them up to the next musical level! The Sound is Now!

Stewart Mann, singer/songwriter of The Statesboro Revue, says, “This may be one of the coolest things we have ever done. Mid-Texas Symphony is taking eight of our original songs and charting each of them to an orchestral accompaniment. I am so excited our band will play our songs with a professional orchestra!"

Mann’s group, hailed as one of the Top Ten Americana Groups to watch in 2017 is not new to recognition. In 2009, Rolling Stone Magazine proclaimed The Statesboro Revue as one of the highlights of the 2009 South by Southwest Conference and Festival. 

Americana Goes Classic is a fusion of guitars, violins, drums, cellos, and horns featuring home-grown artist Stewart Mann's soulful songs and the symphonic sound of our area's only professional orchestra. Presented by Mid-Texas Symphony.

Americana Goes Classic: Saturday, April 29th. Show begins at 7:30 at the Brauntex Theater in New Braunfels.  GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY: / 830.463.5353

Mozart's Concerto No. 3 - One Of The Best Violin Concertos In The History Of Music

For more than 300 years, the violin concerto remains the most popular concert in modern concert halls across the World. First developed in the Baroque era, Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi helped to perfect the format we now know as the Violin Concerto. The masters of the Classical Period, 1750 to 1820, Franz Josef Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, also composed in the form with the genre remaining a preferred diversion for concert attendees and partygoers alike. The Concertos tended to run in length from about twenty-five minutes and were valued for being somewhat lighthearted in character.

Beethoven transformed the violin concerto in the first years of the nineteenth century, as he did the symphony, into a grand orchestral work, a profound and elongated statement that plumbed emotional depths left untouched by his predecessors. Such is the monumental nature of Beethoven’s single composition in the genre that it stands alone among his oeuvre; he seemed to think that it could not be rivaled by another attempt.

Composers of the Romantic Period, 1780-1910, saw the violin concerto as conducive not only to pyrotechnic displays of skill by the soloist but also as ripe for the expression of personal testimonies of great emotion. The concerto now stretched to some forty minutes or more. The likes of Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Antonin Dvorak, and Jean Sibelius each completed one piece in the genre and their compositions today are known simply as “The Brahms,” “The Tchaikovsky,” etc. The violin concerto continued to flourish into the twentieth century, with the Americans Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Samuel Barber providing two of its greatest post-Romantic incarnations, though returning its length to that of the Classical Period. Though it has been three-quarters of a century since the last great violin concerto was composed, the genre will survive for time immemorial because of the great incarnations of pieces like Mozart’s Concerto No. 3 for Violin in G Major as played by a violinist with the skill of Mid-Texas Symphony’s Laura Scalzo.  (The Top Ten Greatest Violin Concertos by Stephen M. Klugewicz)

#MusicaIs...Nourishment for the Heart and Soul

In all the busy-ness in our lives, sometimes we forget to enjoy the little things. Taking a sip of warm tea, spending time outside on a beautiful day, having a meaningful conversation with a loved one, listening to beautiful music, when was the last time you did these things? If we aren't intentional about feeding our heart and soul with good things, we can get worn out by all the clutter and noise of the world. 

Music is a unique way of expressing yourself. Find a song that speaks to you, let it inspire you. Don't just listen to any music, some are better than others! Listening to classical music in particular can have many benefits for the listener. Listening to classical music can reduce stress and improve productivity. Doesn't that sound nice? Next time you are stressed at the office and need to get a lot done, try putting some classical music to help! 
Classical music can also spark creativity and put you in a better mood. When your child is having trouble concentrating on writing a paper or working on a project, try getting them to listen to classical music. Surely it will make the experience a more pleasant one. 

Think of it like feeding your body. You wouldn't want to eat junk food all the time, right? That would just lead to a lot of problems. So wouldn't you feed your heart and soul with the best music available? Classical music is a wonderful thing to do exactly that!

As with any music, classical music is best heard live! Don't forget to buy tickets for our upcoming concerts. 

Concert No. 5 on March 26th at 4:00 pm
Have an evening filled with Vivaldi’s Sinfonia No. 3, Mozart’s Concerto for Violin No. 5, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 all executed by the talented hands of Mid-Texas Symphony. 

Concert No. 6 on Saturday, April 29th at 7:30 pm
American Goes Classic! An exciting program of brass and percussion featuring Mid-Texas Symphony brass and percussion artists.

Concert No. 4: The Big Band Blowout


Starting a new year is all about starting over, and with the arrival of a new year brings the second half of the Mid-Texas Symphony’s 2016-2017 concerts. In December, we went out with a holiday bang, and we’re kicking off this year with a dance! Travel back to the good old times of music with orchestral sounds of Big Band favorites. The first official Mid-Texas Symphony and Concert No. 4 of the current season uplifts you into the swinging sounds of Big Band music. The Big Band Blowout is arriving!

Mid-Texas Symphony’s The Big Band Blowout is the perfect throwback to get the audience out of their seats and onto the dancefloor. The Symphony will be performing songs from classic Big Band artists such as Benny Goodman, Les Brown, Count Bassie, and Glen Miller, with vocal performances by SAVAE. Put on your dance shoes, because while these artists are performed orchestrally you’ll have the chance to learn how to swing dance - and food and drinks will be provided! 

Will you swing dance with Mid-Texas Symphony? Celebrate this special genre of music on February 18th, at 6:00 pm, at the New Braunfels Civic Center.

Concert No. 5

Don’t forget, we return to the sweet sounds of classical music soon after the Big Band Blowout. Have an evening filled with Vivaldi’s Sinfonia No. 3, Mozart’s Concerto for Violin No. 5, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 all executed by the talented hands of Mid-Texas Symphony. Concert No. 5 is on March 26th, 4:00 pm, at the Jackson Auditorium. 

#MusicIs … A Sweet Escape

Earlier this month, the 2016 Presidential Election came and went, and to some it feels like the stressful times of politics are never ending. As people are tormented with endless questions of the future, they end up taking on unnecessary stress. When these tough times roll around, what do we have to rely on to relieve our stress? A safe and secure way to wind down from the stress of politics, school, or anything else that’s been bringing you down is to sit back and listen to music!

All around the world, students, teachers, and other people of different occupations go through a seasonal cycle of doubt, worry, and stress. That means it’s time to form the playlist of your favorite and newly discovered songs. When listeners plug their ears with headphones the sounds stretch the imagination of the mind and send us to a world deep within our subconscious minds. Music then brings us into a special place of comfort and relief from the rest of the world. The link between the emotional state while you listen and the music you choose is, as we all know, strongly related. However, these negative emotions can easily be fixed by listening to a positive song! Studies have shown that classical  music in particular can reduce pain, blood pressure, and chronic headaches.

So, if you're feeling stressed, curl up in your favorite space, turn up the volume, and let all of your worries travel away with the sweet sounds of music. Then, take a step back in time with us and be sure to grab your tickets early for our “Big Band Blowout" concert on February 18th, 2017 at the New Braunfels Civic Center!

#MusicIs...The Speech Of Angels


 Those things that most enrich our lives - striking art, expressive music, a warm hearth - are often most difficult to define purely scientifically.  They exist on another level, another plane, one that transcends the world for a time and helps us understand the inexpressible, moving past simple reality.  Music, in particular, engages this alternate set of senses with particular frequency - “Only art penetrates...the seeming realities of this world,” said Nobel Prize laureate Saul Bellow.  “There is another reality, the genuine one, which we lose sight of - this other reality is always sending us hints, which without art, we cannot receive.”

 Neuroscientists Anne Blood and Robert Zatorre have found that the act of listening to pleasurable music links the emotion and logic centers of the brain, activating emotional and reward responses in much the same way smells tend to activate memories. Essentially, part of the power of music comes from 1) expecting it to go a certain way, and 2) reacting accordingly, based on whether or not the prediction was accurate.  While this begins to explain people’s baseline emotional reactions, scientists have not yet been able to pinpoint the nature of music’s transcendental power - how it can make us feel emotions we do not understand.

 Alduous Huxley touches on this idea in his 1931 collection, Music At Night & Other Essays, saying that, “All the things that, to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant, can only be experienced, not expressed…  After silence, that which comes music.”  The emotional breadth of music taps into existing experiences and forgotten possibilities lying deep beneath the surface of rationality.  “There is...a certain blessedness lying at the heart of things,” Huxley says - a blessedness that goes beyond understanding.  

 Part of this is linked to music’s role as a universal language of mankind, connecting people across time and space, but the core of it is less definable.  Our own Maestro, David Mairs, says that, “[Music] helps me get in touch with what’s really inside there, and expresses those emotions that in some ways are inexpressible.”  This idea, at its core, is the reason for the annual power of certain Christmas carols - voices joined together singing songs with weighty cultural, historical, and personal significance.  The Mid-Texas Symphony Concert No. 3 features an emotionally evocative program, opening with Vivaldi’s powerful choral “Gloria” and including assorted Christmas carols, Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride”, and a Children’s Chorus!  

 Get your tickets for Concert No.3 on December 11 today and understand why the Victorian philosopher Thomas Carlyle proclaimed that, “Music is well said to be the speech of angels.” 

#Music Is … Hard Work & Dreams Coming True…

Juilliard-trained cellist Christine Lamprea saw one of her biggest dreams come true in May of this year: She had her first performance ever in Colombia, the country her parents left almost 50 years ago. For five days, Lamprea, 26, joined Colombia's National Children's Symphony as a solo cellist. It was the first time she had ever visited Colombia and the trip helped her to realize the sacrifices her parents made in order to come to the United States and provide a better life for her and her siblings.

"I believe that my parents made the American Dream work for them. They came on their own and brought themselves up from their bootstraps," said Lamprea, who is currently a professional cellist with Astral Artists, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that helps develop the early careers of classical musicians. Lamprea's father came to the U.S. in 1969 and her mother arrived a year later. They met at the Astoria Park Pool in Queens, New York and got married in 1972. Her father, who arrived at age 20 dreaming of becoming an architect, ending up building a successful career in real estate. "My dad did it on his own. Now he's a salesman," said Lamprea. Her mother arrived in the U.S. with her five siblings. She worked in a factory for five years, learned English at night and eventually became an accountant.

Lamprea was born in New York. But when she was seven, her parents moved the family to a predominantly English-speaking middle class neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas. Many other relatives eventually moved to San Antonio as well and Lamprea grew up surrounded by her bilingual family members and immersed in Colombian culture. Yet, she didn't fully embrace her Latina identity, especially in her teenage years. "I learned to dance Cumbia when I was little, was surrounded by Spanish, and was wrapped in the warm, generous spirit of my Latin family" she said. "But I had plenty of older cousins who were very Americanized and I moved in that direction. I didn't want to learn Spanish. English was the cool thing."

But her parents were able to influence both of their daughters when it came to music. As a result, Lamprea fell in love with the cello when she was 9 and her sister Stephanie became an aspiring opera singer. In high school, Lamprea's first cello teacher recommended that she reach out to Ken Freudigman, the principal cellist of the San Antonio Symphony. "I played for him, and he agreed to take me on as a student. He pushed me very hard, and I owe him a lot," she said.

The summer of her junior year, she attended summer camp in Tanglewood, the classical music mecca outside of Boston and it changed her life. "Being in a community where everyone loved music as much as I did, inspired me to audition for a music conservatory," she said. "My teacher was surprised. He brought me in for two lessons a week instead of one and eventually I was accepted to The Juilliard School." There, she studied under masters such as Bonnie Hampton, a protégé of the great cellist Pablo Casals, and Itzhak Perlman, who even chose Lamprea to be his granddaughter's cello coach.

After Juilliard, she pursued a master's from the New England Conservatory with the help of a fellowship. In 2012, she was awarded a Paul and Daisy Soros New Americans Fellowship which pays up to $90,000 for the graduate educations of 30 immigrants or children of immigrants. At the time, Lamprea worried she wouldn't fit in with the other fellows. She was the only musician. The others were scientists, lawyers and activists. Plus, unlike many of the others, she didn't have a harrowing tale of overcoming poverty and she never felt like her status as the child of immigrants ever impeded her.

"I was asked, 'what's your immigrant story?' and I said 'I don't have an immigrant story,'" she remembers. But conversations with the other fellows opened her up to a different perspective. Previously, she felt that her work ethic was simply part of her personality. Now she realizes it was heavily influenced by her parents. "In so many of the anecdotes other fellows shared from their upbringing I found something similar had happened in mine, but simply disregarded its importance," she said. "It made me more conscious of how much of my life is influenced by my parents' and grandparents' journeys."

The trip to Colombia reminded her of how tough life still is for many who remain in the country and the resilience that immigrants must have when they leave their homelands in pursuit of their dreams. "After seeing that, I think there are more opportunities in America, even if it is more difficult now, it's still much better," Lamprea said. 

Read full CNN article by Octavio Blanco

The Mid-Texas Symphony is honored to have Christine as our guest artist for Concert No. 2 this Sunday at 4 pm at Canyon High School in New Braunfels!

#MusicIs… The Universal Language of Mankind

    Historically, almost every culture across time has independently created some form of music.  Whether percussive, vocal, or instrumental, music has been a critical aspect of society.  In some cultures, indigenous forms of music developed before language!  While the tools used to create music and the overall sound of the music may differ, the role of music itself cannot be disputed.

    Today, music is inescapable.  In cars, on street corners, at events, we are constantly surrounded by it.  (You are likely listening to something as you read this!)  And, depending on location, specific types of music can act as social triggers that incite a particular behavior.  For instance, call to mind a sporting event and the iconic ‘Charge’ theme that inevitably raises the audience to its feet.  Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist and author of This Is Your Brain On Music, says that, “Music is and [always] was part of the fabric of everyday life, [...] a window on the essence of human nature.”  Much in the way that viewing a play or watching a movie can provide some measure of cathartic release, listening to an emotionally-charged piece of music can neurologically trigger certain feelings.  The six core emotions are universal and can be recognized cross-culturally, regardless of gender, age, or race.  While the specific emotions triggered by a particular piece of music differ across cultures and, indeed, person-to-person, the range of emotional release is generally the same from one side of the world to the other.

    Music, far from being cerebral and abstract, holds powerful storytelling capabilities.  This can be seen from the American Western tradition of cowboy songs to European Gypsy folk dances to the spirit-narratives of the Gule Wamkulu, a Malawian secret society.  Compare, from the Mid-Texas Symphony’s Concert No. 1, the jazz-inflected early 20th century city ambiance of George Gershwin; the American spirituals and optimism embodied in Dvorak’s Symphony 9; and the Star-Spangled Banner.  Each represents a critical aspect of American culture and calls forth a range of different feelings, often uniting us as a people.

    Similarly, in our upcoming Concert No. 2, a number of nationalistic works are featured.  First, you will hear the Overture to the opera ‘The Bartered Bride’ by the Czech composer, Bedřich Smetana.  Best known for his tone poem cycle, Má Vlast, Smetana incorporates a number of folk structures into The Bartered Bride.  Next, the program hops over the ocean to Argentina for ‘Estancia: Ballet Suite’ by Alberto Ginastera.  Throughout his career, Ginastera utilized Argentine folk melodies and forms in his work, both by directly quoting them and by using the root ideas behind their structure.  The Estancia Ballet Suite is rhythmically propulsive and four separate traditional dances, given additional layers through Ginastera’s unique style of instrumentation.  Finally, the program returns to the Czech heartland with Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto.  Considered one of the exemplars of the genre, the work incorporates both Dvorak’s heritage and his American influences.

    Culture-to-culture, it is difficult to unite people.  Languages and customs differ.  Attitudes may seem muted or overly reactionary.  But music can always be understood.  It expresses a common humanity - as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Music is the universal language of Mankind.”

Music Is...Healing

Does music have healing powers?

By Michael Friedman Ph.D.

Studies shows music is a potent treatment for mental health. Thanks Pete Seeger!

Music matters. That’s what Pete Seeger showed us. Seeger was a pioneer in the use of music to influence change. His combination of incredibly catchy melodies and thoughtful, socially conscious lyrics in songs such as “We Shall Overcome,” “This Land is Your Land,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Turn, Turn, Turn” were a powerful influence on national movements, including the fight for civil rights, world peace, and environmental protection.

While Seeger is best known for using music for social change, an important part of his legacy is the potential of music to affect change on a personal level. When Seeger said, “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” he was throwing down the gauntlet. Music can heal.

Nowhere is this legacy more clear or important than in the movement to use music to treat mental illness. One in four adults in the U.S. suffers from a mental illness in a given year, yet only 40 percent receive treatment. The public health implications are considerable; mental health issues cost the world $2.5 trillion annually in health care costs, loss of functioning and loss of life.

Alternative and complementary treatments such as creative art, meditation, and yoga have been proposed to bridge this gap. But music, because of its ubiquity in our society as well as its ease of transmission, has perhaps the greatest potential among alternative therapies to reach people who do not otherwise have access to care.

Does music heal emotional suffering? Research says yes.

We now know through controlled treatment outcome studies that listening to and playing music is a potent treatment for mental health issues. Research demonstrates that adding music therapy to treatment improves symptoms and social functioning among schizophrenics. Further, music therapy has demonstrated efficacy as an independent treatment for reducing depressionanxiety and chronic pain.  

There are several mechanisms by which music can have this effect. First of all, music has positive physical effects. It can produce direct biological changes, such as reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.

Also, studies suggest that exposure to prosocial lyrics increases positive thought, empathy, and helping behavior. The message in a lyric such as “We shall overcome” may be able to reach more people than all of the psychotherapists in the world combined.   

Finally, music is a connecting experience. Seeger was well known for his use of the sing-along, and he made his goal of building communities explicit, saying, “The idea of using music to try to get the world together is now all over the place.” Research clearly demonstrates that improved social connection and support can improve mental health outcomes. Thus, any music that helps connect people can have a profound impact on an individual’s mental health.

Countless other musicians with a message, such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Rage Against the Machine, have taken to heart Seeger’s statement, “Participation. That’s what's going to save the human race.” His influence can also be seen in organizations such as Musicorps, which heals disabled vets through teaching music, and Rock Against Dystrophy, which organizes concerts to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Pete Seeger is one of the spiritual godfathers of using music to improve mental health and well-being. Mental health professionals must capitalize on the path he blazed, to continue the important work of improving public health and well-being.

Dr. Mike Friedman is a clinical psychologist in Manhattan and a member of EHE International’s Medical Advisory Board. Follow Dr. Friedman on Twitter @DrMikeFriedman and follow EHE  @EHEintl.

A Note From Our Executive Director

Recently a long-time Mid-Texas Symphony family member wrote to me in response to a thank you note I had sent for a recent gift they had made to MTS. In the note, I expressed how much the gift meant to the on-going mission of MTS in supporting our efforts to bring beautiful music played by professional musicians to our communities. Their letter back to me actually caught me by surprise because in it our patron wrote, “C.J. – it’s a gift to be with the Music. We are delighted with the Music that MTS brings into our lives…it fits. We’re pleased with all that Music gives each of us. The Music must go on,” they continued. “We deeply appreciate all that MTS does for Seguin and New Braunfels. We appreciate being thanked but that is not necessary. MTS gives more to us than we give to MTS.”

It made me realize how important music is in all aspects of our lives. It soothes, it calms, and it heals. It unites, it confirms, and it invigorates. Music is Life.

Let us give you the gift of music during our Season No. 39 – Music is…Mid-Texas Symphony

Spotlight: Cactus Pear Music Festival

At Mid-Texas Symphony, we are passionate about regional musical opportunities.  Of particular note this Summer is the Cactus Pear Music Festival, a tenured event held throughout Central Texas in July.  Founded in 1996 by a former San Antonio Symphony concertmaster, the Cactus Pear Music Festival aims to spread quality chamber music throughout Texas, simultaneously filling the void left by the symphonies on summer hiatus and introducing smaller ensemble works to its audience.  Now in its 20th season, the Cactus Pear Music Festival performs in San Antonio, Boerne, Kerrville, and New Braunfels.

The Cactus Pear Music Festival’s “Firecracker Finale” will take place through this weekend. Tonight, at the McKenna Events Center in New Braunfels; Saturday at the Coker United Methodist Church in San Antonio; and Saturday at the First United Methodist Church in Boerne. Featuring works by Poulenc, Menotti, Daugherty, Puts, and Bartok, it is entirely comprised of works from the 20th and 21st centuries.  As such, this program will bring a range of tone colors, styles, and technical challenges.  For those interested in contemporary artistry, this is a must-attend!  Adult tickets are $25; student tickets are $5.  

The Mid-Texas Symphony thanks you for supporting your local musicians and making great events like the Cactus Pear Music Festival possible!

Technology Updates Coming Thanks To Recent Donation

 Mid-Texas Symphony recently received a special gift from one of our generous donors - who wishes to remain anonymous. Ten thousand dollars was donated towards improvements in our technical department. We can now upgrade our computer systems, software, ticketing and database systems to not only make things much easier to serve our patrons, but it will also help us out behind the scenes. Mid-Texas Symphony would like to say thank you to this long-time and helpful supporter! Processed through the South Central Texas Community Foundation (Seguin) the gift comes just when it's needed the most - right before the new season!

“The time had come to up the game in the technology area and since the symphony was willing to put money towards a new office, I thought we could help out with the costs of getting the systems to network,” says the donor. Last season Mid-Texas Symphony Board of Directors set aside money to “literally and figuratively move Mid-Texas Symphony to the next level.” The Board of Directors is committed to increasing visibility of our area's only professional orchestra while utilizing new technology to our advantage. The upgrades include a patron management and ticketing system designed specifically for performing arts, and a customized accounting system. The software better serves Mid-Texas Symphony patrons, donors, and stakeholders. “These systems have relational capabilities. In other words, they talk to each other. We will be able to better communicate with our stakeholders in so many ways,” says C.J. Washington, Executive Director of the Mid-Texas Symphony.

Mid-Texas Symphony is  grateful to have these upgrades and to have such a generous supporter. Our program wouldn’t be possible without our wonderful supporters. To learn more about the different opportunities to support Mid-Texas Symphony including ways to give, information about our Guild Chapters, Committees, and Chorus - check out our “support” section. Thank you!

Review: Final Concert of the 2015-2016 Season

On Sunday, May 1st, Mid-Texas Symphony aficionados, new and seasoned alike, gathered for a delightful finale to the 2015-2016 Season.

Opening with a well-loved piece from modern composer, Aaron Copland, we began with his rough and tumble piece about a self-made legend, Billy The Kid; Ballet Suite. Composed in 1938, the natural twists and turns of the piece had audience members inching toward the edge of their seats, anticipating the next note.

Making his symphonic debut as a solo artist, Nathan Ryland, the 22-year old winner of Mid-Texas Symphony 2015 Young Artist Competition brought his piano expertise to the stage. Presenting Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3., Ryland was a force to be reckoned with as his fingers literally flew across the keyboards.

Maestro Mairs teased that the audience would not only hear but also feel the power of the piece that began the second half of the concert. The Saint Saens’ Symphony No. 3, Organ Symphony, as played by guest artist, Dr. Edwin Rieke at the keyboard – the Maestro and orchestra delivered a standing ovation performance.

So we say so long to the 2015-2016 Season and at the same time work diligently toward our the 2016-2017 Season. It won’t be long until we see you again. Look for more about the upcoming season to come your way soon.