Texas’s San Antonio Symphony is Reborn as the San Antonio Philharmonic
Following the dissolution of the San Antonio Symphony in June 2022 over failed musicians’ contract negotiations, the orchestra have regrouped as a new organization
In September 2021, the San Antonio Symphony’s (SAS) musicians unanimously rejected a proposal that was aimed at resolving the orchestra’s ongoing financial issues, which outlined a reduction of the orchestra’s size from 72 full-time musicians to 42, causing 30 musicians to lose their salaries and health benefits.
The SAS — Texas’s longest-running professional orchestra — went on strike at the time in protest. Additionally, on February 17, 2022, the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony (MOSAS) staged a sit-in at San Antonio's City Council Chambers, campaigning for better management and rights to a living wage.
However, after months of failed negotiations over its musicians’ contracts, the SAS board announced unanimous plans to file for bankruptcy, leading to the dissolution of the SAS in June 2022, after 83 years.
“To file bankruptcy in a situation where you haven’t been paying musicians for over 2 years nor [have you] presented the orchestra in its full force for 26 months is unprecedented,” said former SAS music director Sebastian Lang-Lessing on the board’s decision, according to SFCV.
MOSAS did not see this as the end — recently regrouping and performing as the new San Antonio Philharmonic (SAPhil). With a brand new logo and website, SAPhil also announced their 2022/23 season to begin on September 16.
While they are not returning to their Tobin Center performing arts venue at this point, they will be performing at the First Baptist Church — their selected venue for MOSAS’s concerts after going on strike and without backing from SAS management, rather, forming the SAS Performance Fund to help cover costs.
“It's a new organization, [but an] old orchestra,” said SAPhil bassoonist Brian Petkovich. “We're really excited to keep our ensemble together from the San Antonio Symphony and move forward together.”
“Our musicians, who hail from around the world and now call San Antonio home, are determined to instill in our neighbors the excitement of great music, to move audiences emotionally during a time of disruption and change,” he added, as stated in the San Antonio Report. “This is an historic opportunity to do something special and lasting, and we invite everyone to be part of continuing this cultural legacy for San Antonio.”
“When the [SAS] management ceased operations in June, 2022, the musicians — some of whom won their seats in the 1970s and ‘80s — were determined to preserve world-class music in San Antonio,” SAPhil wrote on their website. “With their formation of the [SAPhil], we all have an historic opportunity to re-invent what an orchestra in the 21st century can be. One that reflects the spirit of our time and place. We invite all to take part and feel the pride,” they added.
For their upcoming season, SAPhil will present performances with conductors including Ken-David Masur, Noam Aviel, Akiko Fujimoto, Charles Floyd, David Cho, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Christopher Wilkins, Garrett Keast, Tito Muñoz, and Andrew Grams, as well as feature violinists Randall Goosby and VC Young Artist Nancy Zhou.
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