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:
Many of us may think of chamber choir music as formal and perhaps a bit stuffy. But after speaking to San Antonio Chamber Choir Board President Carl Leafstedt, maybe we've come to that conclusion too quickly. First, Leafstedt reminds us of exactly who they are and what they do.
“The San Antonio Chamber Choir is an organization of professional voices, it’s a paid choir of many of the city’s top voices" he said. "Our mission is to perform music that is not often performed in South Texas -- very difficult and unusual repertory sometimes, at the very highest levels."
Musical Offerings has its own take on presenting chamber music, specializing in presenting concerts at several cultural locations in town, rather than one home base, according to Artistic Director and violinist Joan Christenson.
“Many of the different museums in town, some of the churches, Trinity University, UTSA," she said.
They’re playing Monday night and at a place that really lends itself to their music, the San Antonio Museum of Art.
The Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio was formed in 2008, and though the group's history is a short one, their November 7 event at the San Antonio Museum of Art has a 100-year time time frame. The event celebrates composer Benjamin Britten.
"People all over the world are celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth," said Paul Montalvo, the artistic director of the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio.
The San Antonio Chamber Choir begins its ninth season on October 20 with "Beginnings and Endings" at the Oblate School of Theology’s Immaculate Conception Chapel.
"We feature a wide range of music from the early Baroque music of Sweelinck with a Bach motet through Mahler, an Estonian composer of note, we go on to music of Britten and Holst, and we close with some wonderful spiritual arrangements by Moses Hogan." said Artistic Director Scott MacPherson.
The group's website says that one of the selections of the performance with leave listeners breathless.
San Antonio’s SOLI Chamber Ensemble is about to begin its new season and violinist Ertan Torgul said their selections will include what he calls "classics of today" -- selections of such quality that time will eventually render them classics.
"We’re always very innovative," he said. "We do a lot of multimedia and we do a lot of mixed ensemble things, and brand new pieces of course. Every season features at least four or five brand new works."
Camerata San Antonio begins its next season by taking the show on the road. The popular local Chamber Music ensemble made up of San Antonio Symphony players has been dazzling south Texas audiences for the last decade.
Ken Freudigman, who plays cello in the group, dropped by to talk about their coming programs, starting in Boerne and Kerrville.
"We have music from Benjamin Britten, Béla Bartók, we’re doing some music of Dvořák, Hugo Wolf, music of Brahms and Mendelssohn, all throughout the entire year," he said.
This weekend kicks off the first of two concerts for the Olmos Ensemble. Led by oboist Mark Ackerman, the nineteen year old chamber group, will feature "Sizzlin' Latin American/Spanish Music" this Sunday at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Antonio.
As arts seasons draw to a close in May and June, musicians and audiences look forward to summer festivals. Locally we'll enjoy the Cactus Pear Music Festival, and Mozart Festival Texas, this July and August, along with the new "Q" chamber music series.