The San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers is the official chorus of the San Antonio Symphony. The Mastersingers is a highly acclaimed, 120-voice chorus of volunteers from throughout the San Antonio area. Max Reiter, founding Music Director of the San Antonio Symphony, established the chorus in 1944 to support Symphony opera productions. Today’s Mastersingers are featured in every area of the Symphony’s performance schedule and the chorus also presents independent performances. Dr. John Silantien is the director.
The Mastersingers have a reputation for meticulous preparation and professionalism that has brought the group frequent invitations for tours and guest appearances. In 1994 the Mastersingers traveled to Carnegie Hall to present the New York premiere of Robert Levin’s edition of the Mozart Requiem. This appearance of the chorus at Carnegie Hall received the same critical acclaim as their performances throughout Texas, in Monterrey, Mexico, in New York’s Avery Fisher Hall, and in the Royal Festival Hall, London. In May 2008, the chorus performed Mozart’s Solemn Vespers at Carnegie Hall, John Silantien conducting. Later that same year, they were invited to perform a concert version of Cavalleria rusticana, with Andrea Bocelli in the starring role. The chorus has performed under some of the world’s leading music directors—Zdenek Macal, Jahja Ling, Sixten Ehrling, Nicholas McGegan, Christopher Hogwood, and others.
In the summer of 2013, the Mastersingers, together with student singers from the University of Texas at San Antonio, toured major concert venues in Italy, highlighted by performances at the Vatican in Rome and the Basilica of San Marco in Venice. In June 2015 the Mastersingers returned to Europe to perform in Lisbon, Seville, Madrid, and Granada, where they were featured at the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance. On Memorial Day, 2016, the chorus once again performed at Carnegie Hall, presenting the New York City debut of Robert Cohen’s Alzheimer’s Stories. During June 2018 the Mastersingers toured France, performing at the American Cemetery in Normandy, at the Abbey Church of Mont St. Michel, during the High Mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and at the prestigious Church of La Madeleine.
In 1994, then San Antonio Mayor Nelson Wolff proclaimed the Mastersingers “one of the crown jewels within the San Antonio Arts community.” In addition to performances with the San Antonio Symphony, they present several other concerts annually in San Antonio and surrounding communities. The 2018–2019 series marks the 74th season of the San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers.
San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers conductor Dr. John Silantien has taught and conducted choirs on the secondary and collegiate levels in Texas, in the Washington, D. C. area, and on the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois. His awards include a Rockefeller grant for choral conducting at Aspen, Colorado, and a Fulbright award for research in London, England. In May 2018 Dr. Silantien retired as Professor Emeritus from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He serves as Director of Choral Music at University Presbyterian Church and is in his thirty-fifth year as Director of the San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers.
Dr. Silantien’s orchestral conducting credits include performances with the San Antonio Symphony, the San Antonio Pops, and New York’s West Side Chamber Orchestra, as well as CD recordings of three Mozart piano concertos with the Moscow State Radio Orchestra. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in May 1994 conducting Mozart’s Requiem, returning in 2008 for a performance of Mozart’s Vespers. In May 2016, he conducted the Mastersingers in the Carnegie Hall premiere of Robert Cohen’s Alzheimer’s Stories. During June 2018 he toured France with the Mastersingers. The group performed at the American Cemetery in Normandy, at the Abbey Church of Mont St. Michel, during the High Mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and at the prestigious Church of La Madeleine.
On February 16 2010, Sebastian Lang-Lessing was introduced as the eighth music director in the orchestra’s 71 year history. On October 2, 2010 Sebastian Lang-Lessing made his debut as new music director with a sold-out performance featuring Mahler Symphony No. 1, “Titan.” His Classic subscription series debut was January 7, 2011. Lang-Lessing brings vast experience in both opera and symphonic music and performs with almost unlimited energy and passion. From Berlin to Paris, from Australia to Houston, from San Francisco to San Antonio, audiences have been swept away.