Rachel Podger brings international talent to UTSA


Annette Barazza, The Paisano

Annette Barraza

Annette Barazza, The Paisano
Annette Barazza, The Paisano

A music celebrity has been causing a buzz at UTSA.
No, not Justin Bieber, though the guest did choose to perform a piece by the pop star.
Rachel Podger, the Baroque violinist, taught master classes, gave lectures, performed in solo recitals and even performed with the UTSA orchestra.
Over the last two decades, Podger has established herself as a leading interpreter of the Baroque and Classical music periods.
Last year, she became the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Prize.

She has toured internationally, is a celebrated soloist and director and has recorded several ensembles.
In between her presentations, Podger explained what the Baroque style entails.
“For those of you with perfect pitch, you’ll notice that the Baroque pitch is different and thus produces a different resonance,” Podger explained.
“In addition, each sonata has a different tuning. In some cases, the instructions require you to deliberately mistune the strings.”
Each one of her performances was met with applause and a standing ovation.
At some point during the applause, she would walk off stage and then walk back on stage; the number of times she did this correlated with how long and loud the audience applauded.

Miss Boyd, orchestra instructor at Bernal Middle School, explained that Podger plays on a Baroque instrument, different from modern violins in that it lacks a chin and shoulder rest, just like those in the baroque period.
“It is rare that any violinist chooses a specific style like Baroque,” Boyd stated.
“It was amazing to play on the same stage as her,” exclaimed Clarence Bumanglag, a freshman second violinist.
Throughout her performances, Podger would take a deep breath before beginning each piece and entrancing the audience with her facial expressions.
During her performance with the orchestra, she conducted the orchestra with her expressions and movements while playing her own instrument as well.
Music theory faculty member Dr. Stacey Davis should take the credit for inviting Rachel Podger to UTSA.
“In the short time Rachel has been with us, she has changed the music department with her spirit, generosity and her humor,” Davis explained.
“Her performances have been profound and inspiring. She has connected with our students in a deeply meaningful way.”
Dr. Eugene Dowdy, director of orchestras at UTSA, had similar accolades to give to Podger.
“Change means something can’t be the same,” Dowdy stated. “That’s what Rachel has done to us since she has played here.”
At a solo recital Thursday morning, Podger could be seen wiping the tears from her eyes.
At the final performance, Podger acknowledged, “It’s been amazing to get to know the faculty, all these amazing people and see these amazing—am I allowed to call them kids? No? Ok—these adults play.”