September has been an amazing month for Lanier High School as it celebrated its 100th anniversary on September 13th and followed up by hosting the San Antonio Philharmonic for a Diez y Seis Celebration [September 16]. Both events had historical significance for the Westside school.
Lanier High School is located west of downtown in an urban area known for high unemployment rates and persistent poverty. This week the U.S. Census reported the large community surrounding Lanier High School, zip code area 78207, as having the highest poverty rate in the city. Many of the Lanier High School students live across the street in the city’s largest public housing project. Still, Lanier students are known to defy the odds with many graduating and attending colleges in Texas and beyond. Lanier students and alumni long ago christened the school “The Pride of the Westside.
grown up four blocks from the school.
The San Antonio Philharmonic, under the direction of their new Executive Director Roberto C.Treviño, recently moved to 1314 Guadalupe Street, across from the Guadalupe Theatre and Jesse Treviño’s Veladora mural. Treviño negotiated a lease for the Philharmonic with the Avenida Guadalupe that included using the renovated Progreso Theatre adjacent to the Philharmonic main offices when needed.
At these remote Indigenous villages, Ivan Valbuena introduces the young people to basic music concepts. There are no musical instruments in the villages, so Valbuena instructs the students in rhythm and percussion. The students quickly learn that clapping and tapping their hands on their knees and striking wood objects produce patterns of sound akin to music. In some villages, young students construct wind instruments using bamboo. Valbuena, who teaches in the clarinet studio at UT Austin, serves as a music ambassador to his native country as well as to the barrios of San Antonio.
Joubert’s virtuosity took him to Venezuela one summer where he participated in the famed Youth Orchestra program under the brilliant director Gustavo Dudamel. When Joubert returned to Havana, he requested permission to continue his music studies abroad where he thought he could grow professionally. He explained to me, “I wanted to test myself with the best.” However, the Cuban authorities rejected his request to study outside of Cuba.
The San Antonio Philharmonic and these two Latino musicians demonstrated clearly the impact that music can have to inspire talented children and, in fact, whole communities. The Lanier concert brought together Westside community members across all age groups, prominent Latino community leaders and funders, and talented musicians dedicated to involving themselves in our community.
Copyright 2023 by Ricardo Romo. All photos by Ricardo Romo.