Photo by Coral Martinez-Cardona

Youth Orchestras of San Antonio will present the 8th Standing Ovation Luncheon, honoring Allison Balfour and Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery.

The Standing Ovation Luncheon raises critical funds to support the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio and the music education programs that reach more than 2,500 local young musicians each year. The event aims to help and provide world-class musical instruction, unique performance opportunities, and transformational experiences to San Antonio’s brightest and talented young musicians.

Youth Orchestras of San Antonio takes center stage with return to live shows


While the past year or so has felt like a broken record repeating the phrase “Stay at home” over and over again, one cherished San Antonio youth-based organization isn’t playing second fiddle to the pandemic this summer.

Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, which has been working to change the lives of young people through music since 1949, will make a jubilant return to the stage with a full lineup of concerts scheduled this month to conclude its 2020/2021 season, and will host its YOSA Summer Symphony Camp in person this July.

The YOSA City Series concerts kick off with the first show in a series of season finale events on Sunday, May 9 from 3-4 pm at Trinity Baptist Church, and will feature members of YOSA Repertory Strings and YOSA Prelude Strings performing the free concert.

Additional YOSA City Series free concerts include:

  • Members of YOSA Concertino Strings, YOSA Sinfonietta Strings, and YOSA Capriccio Strings performing Sunday, May 9 from 7-8 pm at Trinity Baptist Church.
  • Members of the YOSA Percussion Ensemble and YOSA Symphony performing Sunday, May 16 from 4-5 pm at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. (While admission is free, tickets must be reserved.)
  • Members of the YOSA Flute Choir and Wind Ensemble performing Sunday, May 16 from 8-9 pm at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. (Admission is free, but tickets must be reserved.)

The 2021 YOSA Invitational, a festival featuring San Antonio middle school and high school bands will take to the Tobin Center stage on May 17 from 1-9:30 pm. Check out the YOSA website for more details.

The organization, which reaches some 2,500 young people representing 130 San Antonio-area schools each year, will conclude its season with a finale concert performed by the YOSA Philharmonic — its first live concert since March 2020 — on Sunday, May 23 from 7-8 pm. The show, part of the YOSA Zachry Series, will feature the most advanced young musicians from San Antonio, as well as a special appearance by renowned clarinetist Anthony McGill, the New York Philharmonic’s first African American principal player. Tickets are available through the Tobin Center.

And young musicians eager to get out of the house this summer (you’re welcome, parents) can check out the YOSA Summer Symphony Camp in July. Campers participate in daily rehearsals and sectionals with camp faculty, which includes some of San Antonio’s top professional musicians and educators. This year’s camp offerings include Middle School String Orchestras, High School String Orchestras, and the popular Orchestra X. Camp registration will remain open until enrollment capacity is reached. Placement audition videos must be submitted no later than June 28.

And it’s never too early to get a jam session planned: YOSA will host its auditions for the 2021/2022 YOSA Orchestras season by video submission this summer. Auditions are free and the results will be announced before the end of the summer. Video auditions must be submitted by June 7. More information about musician requirements is available here.

Photo courtesy of San Antonio Symphony

San Antonio Symphony proves show must go on with 2020-21 lineup

A high note

In this dark time, the San Antonio Symphony is offering a beacon of light. This week, the organization is proving that the show, indeed, must go on.

This fall, the symphony will begin rolling out its 2020-21 season — the organization's 81st year — at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. It's a milestone of sorts for an organization that has spent the past few years mired in contract negotiations and management issues. Not to mention canceling the remainder of its 2019-20 season due to the global pandemic.

The season's 14-week run kicks off with Rachmaninoff’s "Second Symphony" on September 25 and concludes with Sebastian Lang-Lessing returning to the podium as music director emeritus conducting Shostakovich’s "Fifth Symphony" on May 28-29, 2021, the symphony announced in a May 5 release.

Other highlights include Brahms and Beethoven November 27-28, Mozart and Prokofiev January 8-9, 2021, Carmina Burana November 20-21, and Dox Quixote January 28-29.

Now, of course, in this uncertain age, this is all subject to change, but the symphony says it realizes that people need music — and community — now.

“We know that the beauty of life will reanimate and continue stronger, with the arts even more necessary than before,” said Corey Cowart, executive director of the San Antonio Symphony. “This season will mark a new era for the Symphony. We cannot wait to triumphantly return to the stage and for both musicians and audiences to once again enjoy the gifts this art form offers us all.”

Tickets, including season subscription packages, go on sale soon. Stay up to date by visiting the symphony website.

San Antonio Symphony's 2020-21 Classics Season schedule:

Ravishing Rachmaninof September 25-26
Performing: Jeffrey Kahane, conductor, and Sterling Elliott, cello.

Nights in the Garden of Spain — October 2-3
Performing: Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor, and Jorge Federico Osorio, piano.

Sibelius & Schumann — November 6-7
Performing: Matthew Halls, conductor, and Philippe Quint, violin.

Carmina Burana November 20-21
Performing: Michael Christie, conductor; Kathryn Lewek, soprano; John Tessier, tenor; Craig Irvin, baritone; San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers; and John Silantien, director.

Brahms and Beethoven— November 27-28
Performing: Paulo Bortolameolli, conductor, and Eric Lu, pianist.

Mozart and Prokofiev— January 8-9, 2021
Performing: Pablo Rus Broseta, conductor; Sharon Kuster, bassoon; Paul Lueders, oboe; Ilya Shterenberg, clarinet; and Jeff Garza, horn

Sibelius Symphony No. 5— January 15-16, 2021
Performing: Jessica Cottis, conductor, and John O’Conor, pianist.

Dox QuixoteJanuary 28-29, 2021
Performing: Sebastian Lang-Lessing, conductor, and Kenneth Freudigman, cello.

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 February 5-6, 2021
Performing: David Danzmayr, conductor, and Stephen Hough, pianist.

Dvorak & Brahms March 5-6, 2021
Performing: Jonathon Heyward, conductor, and Colin Currie, percussion.

Beethoven's Fifth April 2-3, 2021
Performing: Carlos Izcaray, conductor, and Eric Gratz, violin.

The Firebird April 9-10, 2021
Performing: Garrett Keast, conductor; Lyubov Petrova, soprano; San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers; and John Silantien, director.

Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances — May 14-15, 2021
Performing:Lina Gonzalez-Granados, conductor, Benjamin Beilman, violin.

Lang-Lessing Conducts Shostakovich 5 May 28-29, 2021
Performing: Sebastian Lang-Lessing, conductor, and Federico Gad Crema, pianist.

Essential guide to parties, parades, and more during Fiesta San Antonio 2018

Party time, excellent

The year-long Tricentennial celebration may be bringing worldwide attention to Alamo City, but Fiesta San Antonio still feels like the city's best-kept secret. Running April 19-29, Fiesta is once again filled with dozens of official (and unofficial) events ranging from colorful community parades to family-friendly parties to lavish foodie affairs. Whether you're in it for the medals or just the sense of community, here's where to party during the 11 days of Fiesta 2018.

Fiesta Fiesta — April 19
In the midst of Hemisfair's own 50th anniversary celebration, the former World's Fair site hosts Fiesta Fiesta, the kick off to Fiesta (did we mention this is at Fiesta?) on April 19. Enjoy live music, watch a dazzling fireworks display, and purchase Fiesta pins at Pin Pandemonium during this massive celebration. And for the Selena fans out there, her widower, Chris Perez, will take the stage Thursday afternoon to perform a set filled with the Tejano superstar's hits. Admission is free.

Taste of the Republic: A Texas Culinary Experience — April 19
San Antonio's top chefs including Jason Dady, Geronimo Lopez, Rudy Martinez, Damien Watel, and Lisa Watel take over Marriott Plaza downtown for this one-of-a-kind VIP experience. Attendees will embark on a culinary quest through North Texas, East Texas, South Texas, West Texas, Central Texas, and the Gulf Coast, tasting fare inspired by Texas' six "food regions." Tickets range from $75-100 and can be purchased here.

San Antonio Symphony presents Fiesta Pops— April 20-22
Y'all, thank goodness San Antonio Symphony is back. This year, the city's classical ensemble shines a spotlight on local musicians, dancers, and conductors during Fiesta. Over the weekend, enjoy performances by vocalist Sebastian de la Cruz, 12-piece mariachi band Campanas de America, and dance numbers from the Guadalupe Dance Company. Tickets range from a very reasonable $12.50 to $96 and can be purchased here.

Chaparral Music Festival — April 21
While most of Fiesta's activities and events are centered downtown, the first-ever Chaparral Music Festival brings the party to Northwest San Antonio. Enjoy performances from headliner Kyle Park, as well as George Navarro and Chris Saucedo Band. Picnic blankets are highly encouraged at this family-friendly event which also features food and beverages for purchase, lawn games, and more.

Fiesta's Masked Dance Dance Dance! Party— April 21
"Come as you are not" is the theme of this masquerade dance party hosted at Mission Marquee Plaza. Presented by stalwart San Antonio art collective URBAN-15, Dance Dance Dance! features live music by Los de Esta Noche and El Tallercito de Son, as well as a special costume contest. Admission is free.

Fiesta Art Fair — April 21-22
Southwest School of Art's annual fundraiser is back for its 45th year. Peruse contemporary art from more than 100 local and American artists while snacking on festival favorite fare like gorditas and roasted corn. While adults find the next addition to their art collection, youngsters can take part in the Young Artists Garden, which hosts creative activities and art projects throughout the weekend. Tickets for adults is $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and $5 for children. Proceeds go directly to Texas' only independent art college.

Texas Cavaliers River Parade— April 23
Would it be Fiesta San Antonio without the river parade? Sure, but it wouldn't nearly as fun. Since 1941 this celebration of all things Alamo City has taken over the San Antonio River for a day of fun and festivities. Watch as the brightly colored "floating gardens" drift across the water and listen as mariachi fills the air during this can't-miss affair. The parade begins at 7 pm and runs along this route. Tickets range from $14-26 and entry times are staggered to optimize views.

Fiesta Especial Celebration Day— April 24
Hosted by disABILITYsa at the Alamodome, this Fiesta event is for San Antonians of all ages and abilities. Enjoy accessible rides, take part in a parade, or chow down on delicious fare at this inclusive party. Admission is free.

Battle of the Flowers Parade— April 27
If only all battles were this beautiful. The oldest and largest Fiesta San Antonio parade, the Battle of the Flowers attracts more than 350,000 attendees and, fun fact, is run entirely by women. In honor of the Tricentennial, the theme for the 127th Battle of the Flowers parade is "300 Timeless Treasures." Like the river parade, entry times are staggered. Tickets range from $15-30, and can be purchased here.

Festival De Cascarones — April 29
It's all led up to this. Say adios to Fiesta 2018 with a smashing good time on the Texas A&M University-San Antonio campus. Secondhand Serenade and Blue Water Highway provide the tunes as you celebrate with cascarones, games, and more at this all-ages events. Admission is free.

San Antonio Symphony/Facebook

City conducts major fundraising efforts to save San Antonio Symphony

Sounds of Silence

After the San Antonio Symphony fell silent last week due to budget issues, it appeared that the remainder of the season was in jeopardy. Now, thanks to a speedy cash infusion, it appears the symphony will make music again.

On January 9, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County judge Nelson Wolff announced they were conducting a fundraising effort to save the remainder San Antonio Symphony's 2017-18 season. In a release, Nirenberg announced that the city would pay the remaining $368,000 budgeted for the symphony (payments were temporarily halted after the season was canceled).

“I firmly believe that the community wants to see a world-class symphony orchestra continue and thrive in San Antonio," said Nirenberg in a news release. "However, the City and county cannot solve the financial difficulties of the symphony by ourselves. We hope to encourage patrons and corporate donors to increase their financial support.”

In order to kick start that support, Wolff announced that on January 16 county officials will consider a proposal in which the county will match private donors dollar-for-dollar up to $350,000. The symphony has previously said they need $2.5 million in order to complete the season.

City officials aren't the only ones rallying in support of the group. The symphony's music director, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, told Texas Public Radio that the government funding coupled with donations from private and corporate patrons could set the tone for a successful remaining season.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Fine dining chef unpacks nostalgic pop-up concept at Grayson Street bar, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. From pop-up concepts to Hill Country getaways and cool local pools, here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. Fine dining chef unpacks nostalgic pop-up concept at popular Grayson Street bar. The Memorial Day popup was hopefully just the start of a new series the chef hopes to hold monthly.

2. Breathtaking Hill Country hideaway is lone Texas star on Vrbo's top 10 vacation homes in the U.S. The Hill Country Riverfront Hideaway was the only Texas home chosen on Vrbo's list.

3. 7 San Antonio icons star in new Texas Monthly book documenting most influential Texans of last 50 years. To commemorate the publication's 50th anniversary, they've collected stories and photographs of 50 iconic Texans.

4. These 6 San Antonio museums are offering free admission for military families all summer long. The Blue Star Museums program begins yearly on Armed Forces Day in May and ends on Labor Day.

5. Summertime is here in San Antonio — beat the heat at these cool local pools. Mourn the loss of cool weather and beat the heat (in style) at these local pools.

'Little West Side gem" sparkles with summer grand opening


Some bar owners talk about community, but the all-woman trio behind new Prospect Hill spot Chiflada’s mean it. The team says the concept, celebrating its grand opening on June 2, wouldn’t have happened without it.

Family and friends turned out to support the bar months before it was ready for the build-out. They turned out again to help transform a vacant bungalow at 1804 West Martin St. into a comfortable and stylish lounge. When the ice machine went on the fritz during the June 27 soft opening, the bar’s supporters flexed their muscles to ensure the drinks remained cold.

Even the West Side neighborhood gave it a seal of approval. Natasha Riffle, who co-owns Chifladla’s with her mother, policewoman Veronica Riffle, and El Buho owner Melanie Martinez, says the team walked door to door to change the zoning, ensuring residential buy-in.

The result is a bar that is by and for the neighborhood. At the soft opening party, Marigolds swayed in the breeze under a pergola as congratulatory bouquets filled the bar’s shelves. Guests busily chattered as popular deejay Sunnyboy played oldies and conjunto hits.

“It feels like you’re at your abuelita’s backyard and hanging with your family,” Natasha Riffle says of the bar’s vibe.

The drinks honor that spirit, too, toeing the line between the neighborhood’s blue-collar roots and the team’s cocktail-making skills. Featured sippers include a punchy Mexican Martini, a melon Paloma, the Chif Peach, and the mezcal-based Smoke on the Water.
“It’s a place to get a nice cocktail, but also a place to get a beer and shot combo,” Natasha Riffle tells CultureMap about the high-low mix.

Ultimately, Chiflada’s feels like home — the type of place folks let loose after a long day at work, where multiple generations can get in on the party and where bartenders become close friends.

“We all lived [on the West Side] off and on,” says Riffle of the team, “and we’ve all worked with each other over the years. We are more of a family than we are co-workers — 100 percent.”

Chiflada's San Antonio

Photo by Joe Rodriquez

Natasha Riffle beams in front of her newly opened bar.

Contemporary Irish pub sprouts up in new St. Paul's Square home


One of San Antonio’s most storied bars is gearing up for its next chapter. After a brief hiatus, Southtown hot spot Francis Bogside has reopened in St. Paul Square, along with a sister concept — Anne’s.

The bar first opened in 2015 in conjunction with the fine dining eatery Brigid. The pair had barely been in business for a year before an early morning fire ravaged their shared space in 2016. In 2017, the bar reopened on South St. Mary’s Street sans Brigid, becoming one of Alamo City’s favorite haunts.

In July 2022, owner Steve Mahoney announced another change. Francis Bogside was moving out of its longtime home and into a new location. Eventually, internet sleuths figured out that spot would be 1170 E Commerce St #100 in St. Paul’s Square, the former home of Smoke BBQ.

Though in a new location, the basic DNA of the bar is still intact, with a similar layout featuring a large central bar and a jumble of artwork on the walls. The space, however, is a more contemporary interpretation of an Irish pub with a bold mix of upholstery, up-to-date wallcoverings, and mosaic tiles, all enlivening the mostly brick space.

Though Bogside’s signature cocktails have often strayed from theme, a release promised a return to form with sippers like Paddy’s Irish whiskey-based Irish Maid and low ABV Jammy Lass. As usual, the specialty drinks will be supplemented by various classics, including daiquiris and negronis.

Currently, the bar has a limited food menu of pub grub, like focaccia pizza, wings, and loaded potato skins. A more fully developed menu will be rolled out as it prepares for a grand opening later in June.

The media alert did not offer many details about Anne’s, a wine bar now open in the adjoining space, but did tease at an international bottle list. The concept will also have a dedicated food menu, although no details were shared.

Currently in its soft opening phase, Francis Bogside welcomes guests 4 pm-2 am Tuesday through Sunday. Anne’s operates Wednesday through Sunday with the same opening hours.

Francis Bogside San Antonio

Photo by TXTroublemaker

A large central bar is the focal point.