© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Let's Rodeo: Rodeo Road Trip

Credit The Briscoe Western Art Museum
Visions of Change, John Coleman, 2012, bronze

It's as regular as another 50 win season for the San Antonio Spurs, the mid-season Rodeo Road Trip. For almost three weeks, the AT&T Center, home of the Spurs, becomes the venue for one of the highest ranked indoor rodeos in the country. Up in the rafters of the AT&T are numerous Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year banners, alongside the many Spurs related championship banners.

The Spurs are currently on the final West Coast swing of the three week long Rodeo Road Trip. On this week's final segment of the three week long series Let's Rodeo: Music and Art From TheBriscoe, we embark on our own Rodeo Road Trip. After stopping in at the Stock Show and Rodeo, with music by Aaron Copland, we head West along the Old San Antonio Road to the Mission San Juan Bautista. We'll refer to the sense of awe expressed by the literary character Johnny Texas as he drove his ox drawn wagon along the Camino Real: “The very dust under his feet felt different somehow, older and ground finer by thousands of passing feet.” (Carol Hoff: Johnny Texas On the San Antonio Road)

Credit The Briscoe Western Art Museum
An Argument with the Town Marshall, Frederic Remington, 1904

Our road trip then takes us north and west along the Rio Grande, crossing the Pecos River near Judge Roy Bean's Courthouse in Langtry. For many, The West begins at the Pecos. A brief stop in El Paso will remind us of its Old West legacy before we turn north to Albuquerque, New Mexico where composer JeromeMoross had an epiphany which opened his eyes and changed his life.

Recalled Moross: “I traveled by bus from Chicago to Los Angeles . . . and as we hit the Plains I got so excited that I stopped off in Albuquerque . . . and the next day I got to the edge of town and then walked out onto the flat land with a marvelous feeling of being alone in the vastness with the mountains cutting off the horizon.” (Jerome Moross to Christopher Palmer, March 22, 1973. Private Collection of Susanna MorossTarjan.)

Credit The Briscoe Western Art Museum
WPA poster for the Grand Canyon.

  The Let's Rodeo Road Trip now heads almost due west, exploring the extremes of The West. Where does it end? Some believe California is not part of The West. Perhaps they are the same who believe Texas is not part of The West. But how better to define the western edge of The West than the Pacific Ocean? We arrive at the precipitous cliffs of Big Sur to John Adams' "The Dharma at Big Sur," described by the composer as a “concerto after Kerouac.”

“And when the fog's over and the stars and the moon come out at night it'll be a beautiful sight.” (Jack Kerouac – Big Sur)

Credit The Briscoe Western Art Museum
Big Bend poster, in the style of the WPA posters of the 1930s.

  As we reset the GPS for San Antonio, by the scenic route, we will marvel at America's National Parks, justifiably described by Ken Burns as “America's best idea.” At Mesa Verde National Park, we will pause for a musical sunrise by Richard Adler and a brief flute concert by Kokopelli, a deity much venerated by the Pueblo People and other ancient American cultures.


Finally, we arrive in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, a region much beloved by President Lyndon B. Johnson and First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson. We mark this return to our home base with a score by Dmitri Tiomkin for the documentary “A President's Country.”


Throughout the series Let's Rodeo: Music and Art From The Briscoe we have sought parallels between the San Antonio Rodeo, wrapping up its 2016 season this weekend, and the holdings of The Briscoe Western Art Museum. Descriptions of some of the important art and artifacts of The Briscoe will be provided by Jenny Chowning, the museum's Director of Education. The music will not only underscore this week's Rodeo Road Trip, but also the myth and truth of the American West. Can one be considered without the other? Tiomkin's score provides the answer with its familiar themes and songs from both the movies and television, more often giving us fiction than truth. But that's The West, and that's also as good a reason to Rodeo as anything – the myth of The West.

Tune in for Part Three of the series Let's Rodeo: Music and Art from The Briscoe Friday evening at 7 o'clock on KPAC-San Antonio 88.3. You can also listen online at TPR.ORG.

James first introduced himself to KPAC listeners at midnight on April 8, 1993, presenting Dvorak's 7th Symphony played by the Cleveland Orchestra. Soon after, he became the regular overnight announcer on KPAC.