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

San Antonio Chamber Choir Gearing For Changes This Weekend

Robert Strovers
San Antonio Chamber Choir

San Antonio arts institutions are gearing up for the fall season, and the San Antonio Chamber Choir begins theirs this weekend with a pair of performances, themed "A River Runs Through Us."

I spoke to Rick Bjella, their new Artistic Director. He talked about this weekend's performance:

“Our goal is to reach a larger and larger audience. We’re actually approaching music of all styles, so we have some very esoteric music, and then we have some very familiar things," he explained. "So we have pieces like 'Deep River', a wonderful setting of 'Shenandoah', even a Billy Joel tune, a choral setting of the 'River of Dreams' and a fabulous setting of 'Bridge over Troubled Water' to finish the concert.”

I noted to him that while 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' is an entirely secular song, it has an almost a religious feel to it.

“It does, in fact, the last part of the section is called ‘Prayer as it relates to the River.’ We’re doing ‘Down to the River to Pray,’ and ‘Deep River,’ which are often considered to be more sacred. But ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ has a spiritual side to it that I think is really quite powerful.”

They’re singing on Saturday night at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and Sunday afternoon at Mission Concepcion. They’ve also invited singers from dozens of area high schools to perform alongside them.

“And so we’re looking forward to have about forty singers with us or those concerts on Saturday night and Sunday,” Bjella said.

Bjella replaces Chamber Choir founder, Scott MacPherson.

"Scott did a great job and he is revered by me and the ensemble and rightly so," he said. " I think we’re expanding the musical palate.  So the singers are experiencing more styles than they’ve had to grapple with.”

They’re also now a resident company at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, which delights Bjella.

"Yeah, very excited to be a part of the Tobin Center.”  

Their first concert there will be Decmeber 13-14.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii