Board of Directors Votes to Dissolve San Antonio Symphony

June 16, 2022, 11:42 PM · On Thursday the Board of Directors of the Symphony Society of San Antonio, Texas announced the dissolution of the San Antonio Symphony, an arts organization that had been in existence for 83 years, with roots going as far back as 1887.

The board unanimously voted to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and "the assets of the Symphony now lie in the hands of a Trustee who will liquidate them, pay what creditors remain, and close the doors," according to a statement, which you can find on what remains of the symphony's website.

The statement also said that "The absence of a labor contract has effectively forced the Symphony to shutter its operations."

Longtime Violinist.com member Mary Ellen Goree, who was Principal Second Violinist of the symphony, disputed the statement, writing on her her Facebook page that "there is a labor contract in place (signature page), ratified by both the musicians and the board in the summer of 2019, expiring on August 31, 2022. Our board and management have done everything in their power to disregard this ratified labor contract, including prematurely declaring impasse last September and imposing draconian terms which they knew the musicians could not agree to."

San Antonio Symphony
The San Antonio Symphony, in 2018.

The symphony had experienced considerable troubles since the 2017–18 season, when the organization that managed the symphony turned over its operations to a non-profit, which pulled out of the deal by the end of the year, threatening the season. Things were looking more hopeful in the following years, but then came the pandemic and, ultimately, the impasse last fall that Goree described. The 2021-22 season was canceled, though the musicians performed a series of concerts as the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony.

The San Antonio Symphony was founded in 1939 by conductor Max Reiter, a native of Trieste, Italy, who brought with him to America a background in symphonic and operatic repertoire. He served as the orchestra's first music director, and during its first season violinist Jascha Heifetz performed as guest artist.

It remained a strong organization through the mid-20th century, gaining status as a "major orchestra" in the 1940s and continuing its operations during the difficult years of World War II. Its financial difficulties began in the 1980s, as detailed in this timeline by Emily Hogstad.


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Replies

June 17, 2022 at 05:05 AM · How awful.

So sorry that you are going through this, Mary Ellen.

June 17, 2022 at 05:15 AM · Thanks. This news, while disappointing, did not come as a shock. The musicians presented three pairs of artistically and financially successful concerts this spring and are planning a season for the fall. More information can be found at www.mosasperformancefund.org.

June 17, 2022 at 07:53 AM · This is sad, but I’m glad to hear that there are plans going forward.

Ánimos, Mary Ellen!

June 17, 2022 at 09:03 AM · All my best wishes of support for you and your colleagues, Mary Ellen.

June 17, 2022 at 12:46 PM · This situation seems to rhyme with the recent dissolution of the DaPonte string quartet. Happily, when just now I searched for the article describing it, I learned the "non-profit" board of "friends" of the quartet have been dismissed and the quartet revived:

https://slippedisc.com/2022/06/sacked-string-quartet-is-rehired-board-members-sacked/

June 17, 2022 at 01:52 PM · Not the first and not the last. The overreaction to Covid was just the coup de grace.

June 17, 2022 at 05:21 PM · Here is a Message from the Musicians: https://www.mosas.org/post/message-from-the-musicians

June 17, 2022 at 06:19 PM · It's really a shame when the philistines get into power in the arts...however, this may all be a good move to get better people running the show over time.

Same thing happened in Atlanta! People get on the Boards for social climbing, have no appreciation of quality, and see loser moves as solutions. Then you read about places like LA where the symphony has thrived due to leadership from people who love and appreciate music and want to grow it.

Mary Ellen, I hope this ends up well for all of you! Maybe you're rid of an anchor around your necks and good people will put together something great!!

June 17, 2022 at 06:44 PM · Thank you!

June 17, 2022 at 06:46 PM · Mary Ellen, Your "Message from the Musicians" is clear and compelling. (Thank you for providing the link above.) The SAS is fortunate to have such an elegant, articulate spokesperson. I hope the three successful concerts you've just performed will be a wonderful launching point for the next chapter in the life of your orchestra.

June 17, 2022 at 06:47 PM · I'm so sorry Mary Ellen. You've shared enough of your personal life over the years to understand you as a real person (as opposed to just another faceless individual on the internet), and also enough to have a glimmer of understanding as to how this will affect your personal life.

June 17, 2022 at 10:17 PM · Dear Mary Ellen, I only know you by your succinct, sensitive, pertinent, knowledgeable posts on v.com, but I feel for you, your colleagues, and your families. A few of my ex-students over the years are also looking over their shoulders..

June 18, 2022 at 12:42 AM · Dear Mary Ellen, I am so sorry to hear, and saw your quotation before I headed over here to V.com. Though I rarely post now, I have read many of your contributions and have always appreciated your eloquence. I realize that you - and likely many others - have secondary jobs, teaching, etc., but the reduction proposed by the board seems unconscionable. Our local Santa Monica Symphony is struggling, too, but manages with donations and community support. Let us know how we can help, though likely "letters to the editor" to a San Antonio newspaper won't help much...

June 18, 2022 at 05:40 PM · Thanks to all for your kind thoughts and support.

June 19, 2022 at 09:40 PM · Dear Mary Ellen Goree ~{#15}

I had once penned a sincere serious letter to AFM President, Ray Hair, about your rare kind & superb musical commitment to all your SAS colleagues putting your own needs on a back

burner to attempt saving and re-setting with the San Antonio Symphony. Having requested he Reply I've not yet heard an answer from one who with concern wrote passionately about the debacle of your SAS Orchestra ~

I don't know enough so best minus knowledge to comment but suffice to say, this closing of doors offense is deeply painful to Everything truly 'Loving the Music' musicians Are and Do for Love of their souls, hearts, families, colleagues & w/Life Span fidelity to unique genius Composers of Grandest Symphonic Masterworks, and for All of Time! Reading the LN Introductory remarks it says my mentor, Jascha Heifetz, came to San Antonio to perform as a Violin Soloist w/Reiter, Italian Founder /Conductor! Knowing Mr. 'H' quite well when and following my JH Violin Master Class studies & {w/occasional private violin visits} I do know Mr. Heifetz was a genuine supporter of fellow professional musicians always encouraging them to make their Best Music and particularly those supporting their families who also worked in restaurants, Hotels & the like. If Mr. Heifetz was still on Earth, I know he would tell you, dear Mary Ellen Goree, to Carry On and Not Give Up!!!

Wishing you and All in the San Antonio Symphony a Blessing out of this truly Heinous situation ~

May The Doors of Right, Just and Fair Open to You and All of your San Antonio Symphony Colleagues ...

... With You, I remain

~ Truly Saddened yet Hopeful ~

..... Elisabeth Matesky .....

Father's Day Blessings to You and the SAS

~ Sunday, June 19, 2022 ~

Fwd dg

June 20, 2022 at 01:16 AM · Thank you <3

June 20, 2022 at 01:57 PM · Well, I remember Walter Legge's attempt to terminate the Philharmonia!

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