Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

All about achievement

UTSA Orchestra’s ‘Concerto and Aria Winners Concert’

The UTSA Orchestra delivered a chilling, thrilling and heartstopping performance, as always, at their latest “Concerto and Aria Winners Concert.” 

A concert like this is always drastically different for everyone involved. Violinist and music marketing major Nick Garza had class at 8:30 a.m. and then a six-hour shift at work. Raul Martinez, a junior Computer Science major and French horn player in the orchestra, had a computer science exam at 10 a.m. Meanwhile, co-concertmaster and violinist Harmony Grace woke up sick and had to go to the doctor to ensure she could play. 

But none of this mattered when they were on stage, together as an orchestra, which Grace explained is “one of the only places in music where you can find such a large group of people to play with. And it’s very intricate, so everyone has a part that’s very specific and important.” 

“I think it’s exciting when you finally get it to come together. You can’t do it anywhere else, and every mess-up is something unique about that performance,” Grace said.

Martinez added, “It’s really fun to hear the different colors in an orchestra or National Spring Football League Enterprises Co, LLCand setting.”

The orchestra’s opening song was the first public performance of a piece conducted by a member of the orchestra himself, senior music and composition major Ben Spivey. Spivey first began composing music in 2021 and has composed at least one piece per semester since then. 

In the spring, he asked the orchestra’s conductor, Troy Peters, if he could write a piece for the orchestra. 

“He said, ‘Sure, I’ll leave a spot for you,’” Spivey explained. “And then [tonight] we got to hear it, and it was amazing. It feels awesome.”

His piece, “Magnolia,” premiered at the concert and was elegant, graceful and powerful, combining Spivey’s biggest inspirations — Toby Fox, Dan Avidan, Satoru Kousaki and the music from League of Legends.

Martinez explained his favorite part of the night was a moment from “Magnolia.” 

“There’s a cool part where the strings change key and then they stop and that’s when the horns come in,” Martinez said. During the concert, the extra French horn players created an experience that Martinez described as “like two guitar players playing at the same time. Like they’re playing the same thing, but they’re different frequencies, and it just makes it sound f—g huge, and it sounded crazy, which it had never sounded like before because there were just two horns.”

The second song of the night was “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta” from “La Rondine (1916).” Alexis Cairy was the soprano soloist, and the words soaring, stunning, magnificent and beautiful can not even begin to describe her vocal talent. On top of her numerous other achievements and experiences, Cairy won the “University of Texas San Antonio Concerto and Aria Competition.”

The next song, “Tzigane (1924),” featured another winner of the competition, soloist Elisa Nivon, a violinist in the National Symphony of Mexico who is pursuing a Master of Music in performance at UTSA. Nivon was effortless yet impressive. “Tzigane” was powerful and bold yet still dreamlike and ethereal. 

Many orchestra members explained that her performance, and being able to play with Nivon, was the highlight of their night. 

Grace explained her favorite moment of the night had to be “our soloist Lisa with the ‘Tzigane’ by Lavel.”

Spivey elaborated on his favorite part of the performance, explaining, “I really liked the highland concerto with the soloist. That was just too fun to watch.”

The conclusion of the concert was Dvořák’s “Symphony No. 8 in G major (1889),” which is “absolutely full of great tunes,” Peters explained.

In the conductor’s introduction, he explained that Dvořák was “a city boy who loved the country,” and this was apparent in every movement of this almost forty-minute-long piece.

When asked about her favorite moments of the night, Grace answered, “Definitely the last moment of Dvořák, it’s exhilarating.”

After the show, when the lights were dimmed, the chairs packed and the audience was well on their way home, Peters elaborated further on the finale, explaining, “The Dvořák, the big symphony at the end, is just a piece that every orchestra loves to play, and it’s something that hadn’t been done in UTSA in quite a few years. I had never done it here, so it was time for us to give it a shot, and we had a pretty good time.”

Peters has conducted the UTSA Orchestra for five years, but “I’ve been a conductor for my whole career.”

He started conducting in high school and was a composition major during undergrad. 

“By the time that I got to be 22, when I was studying music composition I was making more money as a conductor, and I was also having a great time being a conductor. So by the time I was 25, it was the center of my whole life.” 

As a conductor, Peters’ goal is to “unleash possibility for everybody else on stage.”

“I’m the only musician on stage who doesn’t make any sound, and so for me, my job is to create a situation where everyone else can shine, so what I love is when that happens, and it all works out.”

But making things work out during rehearsal and on stage is a constant challenge.

“I think for all musicians, there’s the challenge of we’re trying to put things together and it’s hard and it’s taking a while. And that journey when the notes are not coming together can be tricky, but honestly, even then I love feeling progress, and there’s almost always that chance to feel things getting better.”

Peters’ leadership and experiences are awe-inspiring, and Garza even stated that the best part of his night was “the fistbump from Mr. Peters. That’s the highlight of my college career.”

An orchestra concert is a different experience for everyone involved, but the unity and confidence created on stage are unlike anything else.

When asked what orchestra has taught her, Grace responded with “everything.”

“Orchestra taught me how to make friends, orchestra taught me how to be a leader, orchestra gave me my confidence.”

Her advice to us all is “Join the UTSA orchestra. Just do it. Any major and any experience can join. Well, a little experience. And invite your friends, please come to our performances.”

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About the Contributor
Lauren Hernandez
Lauren Hernandez, Assistant Arts & Life Editor
Lauren (she/her) is a second year English student at UTSA. After graduation she plans on attending law school. Outside of The Paisano you can usually find her at a concert taking pictures, hiking in the woods, watching movies or thrifting with her sister.

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