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MID-TEXAS SYMPHONY

MID-TEXAS SYMPHONY. The Mid-Texas Symphony originated in 1978 when Anita Windecker, a professor at Texas Lutheran College (now Texas Lutheran University) in Seguin, proposed the idea of providing the Seguin and New Braunfels areas with a professional orchestra. A gifted pianist and educator, she believed that, with the proper planning, procedures, and personnel, “two small communities with the help of a small university could bring high-quality classical music” and educational prospects to a region that was “not rich in cultural opportunities.” On June 10, 1978, the orchestra musicians met for the first time. Most of the musicians came from the Seguin, New Braunfels, and San Marcos areas. In September 1978 the Seguin chapter of the Mid-Texas Symphony Guild was formed. The New Braunfels Guild chapter was organized in February 1979. Both chapters have raised money to support the symphony since that time.

The premiere concert of the Mid-Texas Symphony took place on November 19, 1978, in the Seguin Coliseum. The symphony performed its first concert in New Braunfels at the Civic Center on April 29, 1979. Tom Jensen, who was also director of the San Antonio Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, served as the first conductor. The following autumn saw the creation of the Mid-Texas Symphony Chorus, which sang at a concert with the orchestra in December 1979.

The Mid-Texas Symphony provides a number of services, including a children’s concert series, young artist competition, and the TLU/MTS Community Music Academy, which is a nonprofit music school offering education for students of all ages and ability levels. Also, the Mid-Texas Symphony Guild sponsors a number of educational programs, including the Debutante program for high school senior girls, the Cotillion program for younger boys and girls, and the Color of Music Program, an art project under the direction of the New Braunfels Art League.

In 2011 the symphony had approximately sixty-five musicians who were led by Maestro David Mairs. Mairs joined the Mid-Texas Symphony as musical director in 1996. He had begun his professional career in the United States Army Band in Washington, D.C., and then spent time in Pittsburgh with the Pittsburgh Symphony and was conductor for the San Antonio Symphony. In 2011 Dr. Eugene Dowdy served as the assistant conductor, and Laurie Jenschke was choral director.

The 2010–11 season, the symphony’s thirty-third season, saw such musical milestones as Van Cliburn’s 2009 silver medalist Yeol Eum Son performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, Charles Yang on violin for Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, the Romero Guitar Quartet playing Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz, and the 2011 Young Artist Competition winner. Plans for the 2011–12 season included performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, “Eroica”; Charles Ives’s The Unanswered Question; a salute to other American composers, including Aaron Copland, Howard Hanson, Samuel Barber, and John Williams; as well as a performance of one of Mairs’s own compositions, Lacrimosa et Benedictus (For the Victims).

The opening of the symphony’s thirty-fifth season in 2012–13 saw the performance of pianist Alexander Kobrin, the gold medalist of the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. A highlight of the 2014–15 season was Tchaikovsky’s Concerto for Violin in D major, as performed by guest violinist and San Antonio native Nancy Zhou.

As of 2015 the main concert venues included Jackson Auditorium at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin and the Canyon High School Performing Arts Center in New Braunfels. Maestro David Mairs continued to lead the symphony, which consisted of more than sixty musicians. Laurie Jenschke served as choral director. Seguin and New Braunfels hold the distinction of being the smallest communities in the United States to sponsor a symphony orchestra.
 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Mid-Texas Symphony (www.mtsymphony.org), accessed August 5, 2015. Mid-Texas Symphony: America the Beautiful, 34th Season 2011–2012, Program Book. Mid-Texas Symphony: Celebrate! 35th Anniversary Season 2012–2013, Program Book. Mid-Texas Symphony: Classical Portraits, 37th Season 2014–2015, Program Book. Mid-Texas Symphony: Mairs Magic! 33rd Season 2010–2011, Program Book. New Braunfels Herald–Zeitung, April 26, 1979; May 3, 1979. 

Lawrence J. Jasinski

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Handbook of Texas Online, Lawrence J. Jasinski, "Mid-Texas Symphony," accessed October 16, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xgm08.

Uploaded on June 4, 2015. Modified on August 5, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.