San Antonio/ Arts & Culture
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Published on February 22, 2024
UTSA Music Prodigy Eymen Geylan to Perform Liszt with Full Orchestra in San Antonio FirstSource: City of San Antonio

This Saturday, the South Texas Symphonic Orchestra will swell the grand UTSA Recital Hall with the soaring melodies of Franz Liszt and other classical masters, backing an audacious UTSA student, Eymen Geylan. Bucking tradition, piano virtuoso Geylan will ditch the conventional two-piano approach for her graduate recital in favor of a full 76-member orchestral accompaniment, an extraordinary move for such an event. According to the San Antonio Report interview with orchestra artistic director Ronnie Sanders, Geylan wanted "a real orchestra," praising her as "a visionary."

Set for February 24, attendees can join Geylan as she tackles Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2, a piece Sanders compared to Taylor Swift's star power in today's terms, adding, "It's an extremely difficult piece." Found at UTSA's main campus, the performance not only represents a milestone for Geylan but also a first-time collaboration between the orchestra and the university. Despite the risk of a tightrope without a net, Geylan's professor, Kasandra Keeling, expects her student to deliver with impeccable technique for which the Liszt composition is notorious. The concert program, obtained by the San Antonio Report, details Keeling's commendation of her student's "command of such a tremendous work."

Free general admission seats are up for grabs, but they're going fast—a testament to the swelling public interest in classical events. For those with a taste for exclusivity, VIP seats are still up for grabs at a reasonable $20, reserved seating that will contribute to the orchestra's funding. Sanders, who will conduct the performance, told the San Antonio Report most general admission seating has been reserved, with several VIP seats available.

Joining Geylan are UTSA master’s degree candidate Emily Densmore, who will lend her soprano to Puccini's "O Mio Babbino Caro," and San Antonio native Richard Novak, taking on the tenor mantle for "Nessun Dorma." Also set against the backdrop of an all-volunteer orchestra that's striving for accessibility, these pieces promise to augment an already robust program, which, according to an announcement on, includes pieces from Camille Saint-Saëns and Federico Chávez-Blanco, as well as an American anthem from composer Anthony DiLorenzo.