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

Weekender: Orchestras And Icons, Reimagined

McNay Art Museum
Andy Warhol's 'Debbie Harry'

Escape this weekend's summer heat and dust by appreciating a new take on chamber music, take a stroll through pop culture history or welcome an ambitious new orchestra.


A New Vision For A Classic Art

On Friday, the place for classical music is across the street from the Tobin, at the Radius Center. Violinist Sarah Silver Manzke described the instrumentation for the group Agarita.

"We are violin, viola, cello, piano," she explained. But there's special theme, she teased, and it promised to be visually dramatic.

"We are so excited," she said. "It will be '360 Degree View: Women in Music.' We're having a concert in the round where audiences will surround us and will get a different view of us performing. And we're also featuring all women composers."

Violist Marisa Bushman said other musicians will join the fun.

Credit Will Langmore
Sarah Silver Manzke, Daniel Anastacio, Ignacio Gallego and Marisa Bushman

"We are collaborating with two women vocalists for this: Mezzo-Soprano Veronica Williams, who was the San Antonio Symphony artist in residence this past season," she explained, "and the wonderful pianist Jean Park. So we're actually doing some pieces with two pianos on this concert."

Bushman said she wants everyone to discover chamber music, and one of Agarita's objectives is to redesign what you may think of it.

"Every one of our community concerts is free. So bring your friends [and] bring your family,” she said. “We're here to change your mind about what classical music can do."

This is their season closer, and they'll announce a new season soon.

IF YOU GO What: Agarita Concert Where: Radius Center When: 7:30 p.m. Friday Cost: Free

Bold Vision May Build Bridges Between Us

The The McNay's Rene Barilleaux says sure, it's hot outside, but their galleries are nicely chilled, as well as being exceptionally cool. And now they’ve opened a pair of edgy exhibits.

"We're just opening our two major summer exhibitions: 'Andy Warhol Portraits,' and 'Trans America/n: Gender Identity and Appearance Today,'" he said.

The huge Warhol portraits are emblematic of the 60s, but some see them as easy photoshop techniques. Barilleaux said not so.

Credit McNay Art Museum
Andy Warhol's Prince portrait

"Andy Warhol died in 1987, before a lot of digital processes were developed, before the internet certainly. So he was really using very traditional techniques," he said.

Warhol experimented with gender issues in his art, but the next exhibit, "Trans America/n," dives in head first.

"'Trans America/n' includes the work of 59 artists from the United States, Canada and Mexico, with a strong Latin-X presence,” Barilleaux said. “We have almost a dozen artists from San Antonio represented."

The massive exhibition of large works of undercovered subjects spills out from the main gallery into the sculpture gallery. Barilleaux said that aside from people enjoying the art, he hoped it would help build bridges.

"Our goal is that this art will help everyone connect to each other," he said.

They will continue connecting people with these two exhibits through September 15th.

IF YOU GO What: Summer Exhibits Where: McNay Art Museum When: Times vary Cost: $15 to $20

An Orchestra's Texas-Sized Ambition

On Sunday, you'll have the opportunity to see a new orchestra’s first performance.

"The Lone Star Philharmonic -- we are a brand new orchestra based out of San Antonio," explained Conductor Richard Castillo.

But that's where Castillo's plan varies from most symphonies.

"Our goal is to be one of the state's first statewide orchestras,” he said. “So we want to go to San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Corpus [Christi]."

The idea, he said, is to not be tethered to one city, but to lasso the talents of musicians all over the state. This first concert is mostly San Antonio musicians.

"We actually have people coming in from Houston, Austin and Corpus Christi," Castillo said.

Their first performance will be at a church on Bulverde Road, past Loop 1604.

"The venue is St. Padre Pio Catholic Church. And our program is the famous Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #2, and Dvořák Symphony #8," he said.

Their first concert also features solo pianist Zachary Ridgeway.

IF YOU GO What: Lone Star Philharmonic Orchestra Where: St. Padre Pio Catholic Church When: 7 p.m. Sunday Cost: $10 to $20

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

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