“I wouldn’t have been a musician if it wasn’t for the symphony in my city,” says Aimee Lopez, a proud member of the second violin section in the San Antonio Symphony. Aimee is a native of Washington, D.C. and moved to San Antonio in 2008.
“I wouldn’t have been a musician if it wasn’t for the symphony in my city.”
Aimee credits her grandmother for inspiring her to play the violin. “She used to play at family gatherings and at church on Sunday mornings.” Beyond this, there were other influences that made it possible for Aimee to pursue her passion.
She began playing violin in fourth grade, later than most of her colleagues, she says. “A lot of them started younger than I did with private teachers. I started in the public school system.” Members of the National Symphony in D.C. teach children in the community, offering private lessons as well as instructing classes at local schools. The opportunities given by these musicians through her school allowed Aimee to master her skills.
“I had been working on that dream since I was in middle school all the way until I came here.”
When a position opened up in the San Antonio symphony, Aimee found herself in a role she had been working toward most of her life. “I had been working on that dream since I was in middle school all the way until I came here.”
Students perform at the Maverick Library in San Antonio, TX. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
“San Antonio is unlike any other city I’ve been in. It’s a large city but it feels small, there’s a sense of family and community.” Aimee married a native San Antonian, David Lopez, who is also a musician. He plays at Jazz Texas and other venues around Downtown. You can find them hanging out anywhere from Mila Coffee to Rosarios. “It’s nice to be able to come Downtown and be on foot.”
“San Antonio is unlike any other city I’ve been in. It’s a large city but it feels small, there’s a sense of family and community.”
Because of her work, Aimee often finds herself Downtown at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. “The Tobin Center is wonderful,” she says, “It’s built for an orchestral sound. All of the wood paneling and the open, cavernous space allows the audience to really get a three-dimensional performance experience.”
“In order for San Antonio to be the vibrant and cutting-edge city that it’s becoming I think the symphony has to
Students perform at the Maverick Library in San Antonio, TX on October 28, 2017. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
The symphony is not only vital to the urban core, but the city as a whole. “Every major American city is home to a symphony orchestra.” Aimee explains, “In order for San Antonio to be the vibrant and cutting-edge city that it’s becoming I think the symphony has to be strong.”
There is a very real impact of the symphony on the community. “I think every major American orchestra is composed of people who come from all parts of the world. It’s really nice to have such cultural diversity.” And the musicians bring so much more than their culture with them.
Aimee Lopez performs at the Maverick Library with her students. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio
“Every individual who comes to this orchestra, no matter where they’re from, bring with them world-class teaching experience,” she says. Aimee and her colleagues are not only sharing their talents with their own pupils, but going into schools in every district of the city and coaching students. “The Youth Orchestras have been great connectors in putting symphony players into schools through programs sponsored by Rackspace.”
“Every individual who comes to this orchestra, no matter where they’re from, bring with them world-class teaching experience.”
Aimee makes sure her students take these lessons to heart. “They are the future leaders of our country. They have to be diplomats. They have to listen and have empathy, compassion, and patience,” she explains, “All these skills are what it takes to be in an orchestra, and it’s what we impart to our students.”
“When I’m in front of my students I really feel that I’ve come full circle.” Now a member of a symphony herself, Aimee finds that she is in a position to be an influence in young musicians’ lives just like her mentors in the National Symphony. “It feels like my life’s work now. I feel that it’s important for me and my colleagues in the symphony to pass the torch.”