Classical music A Zhou 'from the top'

San Antonio Symphony, Majestic Theatre host National Public Radio show

The San Antonio Symphony in performance.

When the San Antonio Symphony announced in March that their final concert of the season would be underwritten by the Tobin Endowment, President and CEO Eddie Aldrete had to have been excited about meeting yet another fundraising milestone in what he calls the "comeback season." The icing on the cake was that the funding would also allow the Symphony to host a special taping of Public Radio International's excellent series From the Top, a national show that features some of our nation's most talented pre-college musicians. That excitement grew when From the Top's producers announced last week that 12-year-old San Antonian Nancy Zhou would be one of five performers featured on the June 2 live taping at the Majestic Theater.

Violinist Zhou was selected from audition tapes submitted from all over the country. The Tejeda Middle School sixth-grader has already won concerto competitions in Austin and with the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio, and has been selected twice for the Russell Hill Rogers String Residency Master Class, most recently with international performer and recording artist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. From the Symphony's standpoint, Nancy's part of the family - she's the daughter of Symphony violinist Long Zhou. All in all, the whole project has a nice symmetry to it.

'From the Top'
Taped Live from the Majestic

8pm, Jun 2
Majestic Theatre
208 E. Houston
From the Top's host is pianist Christopher O'Riley, who will be in town to perform with the Symphony June 3-4. With funding for the concert secured, the Symphony enlisted the help of Texas Public Radio to bring the rest of the From the Top crew to San Antonio. O'Riley has been with the show since it first aired in 2000 and has been praised for his engaging and playful interaction with his young guests, interspersing musical games, skits and interviews with the performances. Two other Texas musicians will join Zhou on June 2, clarinetist Rachel Athas from North Richland Hills and saxophonist Davis Jones from Austin. Mezzo-soprano Becky Henry from Vienna, Virginia, will also perform, as will an additional performer yet to be announced.

For Aldrete, it's as much about getting national exposure as partnering with local agencies and new sponsors. From his administrative point of view, part of the "comeback" mentality is to "act less like a philanthropic arts organization and function more like a successful business," without compromising musical integrity. "Our main focus right now is to reconnect with the local community," he says, and working with San Antonio's public television and radio resources has been fruitful. The Symphony will be the focus of a behind-the-scenes documentary produced and aired by KLRN at the end of this month, just days before the June taping of From the Top for NPR. The show's repertoire and air-date have not yet been announced, but it airs locally on KPAC 88.3FM every Saturday at 10 a.m.

By Diana Lyn Roberts


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