For Immediate Release: March 26, 2019

Media Contact:

Zachary Boeding, Marketing Coordinator 210-554-1051 /


Assumes Title of Music Director Emeritus with 2020-21 Season and Establishes $100,000 Challenge Grant

The San Antonio Symphony and Maestro Sebastian Lang-Lessing have announced the extension of his contract as Music Director through the 2019-20 season. Beginning with the 2020-21 season, the Symphony will honor him with the title of Music Director Emeritus.

“This past decade with the San Antonio Symphony has been deeply rewarding,” Sebastian Lang-Lessing said. “From that first downbeat, there was a singular bond with these remarkable musicians and that bond has only grown stronger. Ten years in, and so much accomplished together, will be the ideal moment to transition into a new role. I am indeed honored to continue making music as the ensemble’s emeritus Music Director.”

To demonstrate his long term commitment to the Orchestra and the San Antonio community, Maestro Lang-Lessing has issued a challenge grant of $100,000 to be matched by new and increased gifts by August 31, 2019.  Contributors to his fund will help to secure the Orchestra’s future.

Executive Director Corey Cowart remarked, “Sebastian’s work in building the San Antonio Symphony was one factor in my decision to join the Orchestra this January.  He has honed the ensemble’s virtuosity and the orchestra today is playing at the very highest level.

“Beyond that, his love for this community, demonstrated once again by this matching grant, is commitment too rarely seen in our industry.  We look forward to continuing our partnership in this newly created and deeply deserved Emeritus role.”

On February 16, 2010, Sebastian Lang-Lessing was introduced as the Orchestra’s eighth Music Director, beginning his tenure on October 2 with a sold-out performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.

Since assuming artistic leadership of the organization, Lang-Lessing has introduced innovations in programming that embrace the whole of the San Antonio region.  Annual festivals have nurtured collaborations with the community’s arts and cultural organizations and have included: all Symphonies and Piano Concerti by Tchaikovsky; all Symphonies and concerti by Brahms; all Symphonies of Beethoven; Symphonies 5 – 9 and the concerti of Dvorak; a Richard Strauss Festival; Las Americas; San Antonio 300; and this year’s Symphony of Flavors, featuring pairings of international cuisine and great musical masterworks.

In the 2014-15 season, he guided the San Antonio Symphony from the Majestic Theatre into the Tobin Center with a gala appearance by superstar soprano Renee Fleming.  Ms. Fleming, Maestro Lang-Lessing, and the San Antonio Symphony collaborated on Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs.”  Strauss’ late, autumnal work received its U.S. premiere in San Antonio when Kirsten Flagstad sang three of the songs with the Symphony.  This was only Flagstad’s second performance of the songs, following her 1949 world premiere in London under legendary conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler.

Also in the 2014-15 season, marking the Orchestra’s 75th Anniversary, fourteen American Preludes were commissioned and premiered, one to begin each program. In 2014 Sebastian Lang-Lessing was instrumental in the launch of Opera San Antonio, conducting Dvorak’s “Rusalka” with the San Antonio Symphony.

A resident of San Antonio, Maestro Lang-Lessing has succeeded in bringing together the region’s diverse communities through music. His many free concerts have exposed the Orchestra to new audiences. Under his direction, the annual Side-by-Side Concert with the students of the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio (YOSA), as well as the Pro-Am concerts, have inspired new generations of young musicians and listeners.

Sebastian Lang-Lessing has overseen the hiring of numerous principal chair players in the Orchestra, such as concertmaster Eric Gratz and Assistant Principal Percussionist David Reinecke, their partnership lifting the San Antonio Symphony to international visibility.  He has also mentored several young Associate Conductors whose careers have blossomed under his experience and tutelage.

David Reinecke, also the Chair of the Orchestra Committee, reflects, “Since beginning my time here, the Symphony has grown concert to concert under Sebastian’s baton. He has a very clear idea of what he wants to hear from us and is a great showman; our audiences adore him! We look forward to continuing our collaboration in the 2019-20 season and beyond.”

In addition to his Emeritus role in San Antonio, Maestro Lang-Lessing will continue his busy schedule of international guest conducting in the United States and abroad.

Board Chair Kathleen Weir Vale will soon be forming a Search Committee comprised of board members, musicians, and community leaders to identify the San Antonio Symphony’s next Music Director.    “Sebastian has raised the bar here,” she commented, “and we will cast our net globally for a worthy successor who can continue to present life-enhancing concerts and further deepen our service to San Antonio.”

The stated mission of the San Antonio Symphony is to delight, inspire, and engage our entire community through excellent performances, education, and outreach.   In the coming days, the San Antonio Symphony will announce the 2019-20 season, a community-wide celebration of Sebastian Lang-Lessing’s decade of music-making.


The San Antonio Symphony, established in 1939, is a nonprofit performing arts organization with the mission to delight, engage, and enrich the entire community through excellent performance, education, and outreach. Under the dynamic leadership of Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing and Assistant Conductor Noam Aviel, the San Antonio Symphony gives more than 100 performances annually, including classics, pops, educational programs, movie concerts, and performances with our fellow resident opera and ballet companies. With more than 70 professional musicians, the Symphony serves over 130,000 people per year including over 50,000 students. For more information about the San Antonio Symphony, please visit

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