A musical tradition was created 18 years ago here in San Antonio called the Cactus Pear Music Festival and it was created by a former concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony, Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio.
“I knew I wanted to start a chamber music festival because there was nothing going on, classical music speaking, during the summer months," said Sant'Ambrogio.
So she devised the idea of the festival, but was short a name for it, a name that ended up being created in the most San Antonio of ways. Sant'Ambrogio picks up the story from there:
Hemisfair was first created for the 1968 World’s Fair. City governments have tried re-development through the years, but the area’s potential has never been realized. That endeavor is now being overseen by the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation, by city mandate.
While that huge overall Hemisfair project is in its early stages, something happened last week that will propel it forward.
“We now have some great concepts in place and are now moving the concepts into final design," said Jimmy LeFlore, public art manager for the city of San Antonio.
It’s a project that challenges filmmakers to show what they love about their San Antonio neighborhoods. It’s called the Neighborhood Film Project, and for months they’ve been gathering 3-7 minute local films. The films about the neighborhoods inside loop 410 have been judged and now it’s all come to a head.
“Our screening for the finalists and award winners is next Thursday, June 26 at the Woodlawn Theater,” said Drew Mayer-Oakes of the San Antonio Film Commission.
Three times a year Artpace invites an artist from Texas, another from the rest of the United States, and another from somewhere in the world to live at Artpace for two months and create.
With the spring residency program nearly through, I caught up with one of their artists, Margaret Meehan, to see what she’s creating. First I asked her what the residency program is like, from an artist's standpoint.
“It’s like a really lovely boot camp!” she laughed.
What Meehan is creating has a theme: Women in War.
A new exhibit at the McNay Art Museum Stieren Center got my attention. I found works large enough to nearly cover the walls, colorful enough to enliven my senses, and detailed enough that I really felt like I’d seen a lot. I also found Chief Curator Rene Barilleaux to describe the exhibit, which is called Beauty Reigns.
A musician coming to San Antonio this weekend is creating quite a buzz. He’s José James, and his sound is not the usual thing. He describes it this way: “Jazz, soul, R&B, singer/songwriter, indie rock, you know. We take you on a musical journey."
The Minneapolis transplant to New York is deep in a tour now, and as it turns out, his San Antonio gig will be his first time to the Lone Star state.
“I’ve never been to Texas so I’m super excited," James said. "I’m not sure what to expect except great food and I heard a killer audience, so I’m ready.”
Multiple Academy Award-winning composer Alfred Newman was the most well-known member of a family dynasty of musicians, composers, and conductors that includes David Newman (“Hoffa”), Randy Newman (songwriter and composer), and Thomas Newman (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “American Beauty”). Two new arrivals to KPAC offer a welcome introduction to Alfred Newman’s youngest child, Maria Newman.
Urban-15 is hosting a big event on Sunday and the layout of talent coming to perform is quite impressive. Urban 15’s George Cisneros details it:
"George and Aaron Prado, we have Ken Slavin, Bett Butler, Juan Tejeda is coming in, Bryce Milligan, Carmen Tafolla, Sheila Black, Laughing Gravy, which is the improvisational jazz group that’s working out of the High Wire Arts Center," he said.
Those performers and many more are coming, including Urban-15's drummers. The name of the event is Up From the Ashes. The reason behind the name?