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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Cactus Pear Music Festival Turns 18

Courtesy Stephanie Sant' Ambrogio

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:

“I was actually on the River Walk having a couple of cactus pear margaritas with some girlfriends and we were brainstorming about a name," she said. "And after the second margarita, that’s pretty much what I came up with.”

Through the years she has created a series of fine musical events for classic music lovers. This year it runs July 3-13, featuring four programs in three cities and using 14 exceptional musicians.

“We have four different programs during the two weeks," Sant'Ambrogio said. "Each of those concerts gets performed in San Antonio at Coker Methodist Church, on Thursday and Saturday each week. And then we also perform in New Braunfels, we perform in Boerne. But we also like to perform a young peoples’ concert, which is a shorter version of a program. "

They play shortened versions of their concert with lots of Q&A, followed by this:

"Afterwards we have cookie decorating,” Sant'Ambrogio said.

The musicians are coming from all over the world: Minnesota, Nevada, Amsterdam, and the most recent gold prize winner of the San Antonio International Piano Competition.

“Everybody loves to make music and there’s a lot of camaraderie between us,” said Sant'Ambrogio.

And all that is just week one. Week two features a whole new round of musicians, and a very different set of music: "Baroque and early classical composers," Sant'Ambrogio said.

  • More on the Cactus Pear Music Festival here: www.cpmf.us
Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii