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

Jazz, Chamber Music And Heroic Exhibit: The Weekend Is Here

Jack Morgan

From Jazz to chamber music to a heroic exhibit, the Weekend is here along with a few ideas of how to celebrate.

Producer of the Balcones Heights Jazz Festival Lorenzo Nastasi said after 25 years, they decided to shake up the long-running festival.

"It's year of the woman. Let's have a complete lineup, opening acts and headliners, all women," he said.

The Jazz Festival runs Friday nights for the next four Fridays, and it all starts tonight. The concerts are staged at the Wonderland of the Americas Mall, at the amphitheatre near the north end of the mall. 

"Tonight is opening night; we're very excited. Don't know if you're familiar with the movie 20 Feet From Stardom..." — I’d seen it — "Well, we've kinda got a version of that going on this year with Wednesday Ball, who is our opening act, she has sung backup for various people in the jazz festival, but she's opening as a solo artist, tonight. She's local, she's very talented," Nastasi said. 


"And then we've got Ragan Whiteside, who's done a lot of studio work, done four studio albums,” he said. “It's going to be a great kickoff to this, the 26th annual Balcones Heights Jazz Festival."


It will be hot for these outdoor concerts, but the amphitheatre is just steps away from the mall’s food court and air conditioning. 

IF YOU GO What: Balcones Heights Jazz Festival Where: Wonderland of the Americas Mall amphitheatre When: 7:30 p.m. Friday Cost:  free

Also on Friday, all weekend, 'til September 1: a heroic exhibit.

"Yes! Men of Steel, Women of Wonder is on view at the San Antonio Museum of Art," said SAMA Assistant Curator Lana Meador. 

She pointed out that our two most famous superheroes share an attribute we may have forgotten.

"They've become so synonymous with truth, justice and the American way, but in fact, Superman was a refugee from an exploding planet so he's actually a refugee and an immigrant to the United States,” Meador said. “And Wonder Woman herself was born on a Mediterranean Island. So artists have picked up on this to explore themes that are very relevant to immigration themes and national policy."

Credit Jack Morgan
Humanscape 70, Comic Whitewash, Mel Casas

Borne of tough times, Meador said American Superheroes played a key role in the nation's collective psyche.

"Superman emerged in the 1930s during the time of the great depression and Wonder Woman once the US entered World War II. So these are times of great hardship in America," she said. 

Superheroes gave the US a common focus, and helped us find our own personal heroism. 

"And many of the artists explore those everyday heroes," she said.

IF YOU GO What: Men of Steel, Women of Wonder Where: San Antonio Museum of Art When: open at various times, check schedule Cost:  $12-$20

Also this weekend and next, the Cactus Pear Music Festival. Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio created the festival 23 years ago to try to change the way you hear chamber music. She says the secret sauce is at the festival are the musicians.

Credit Courtesy Stephanie Sant' Ambrogio
Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio

"They love what they do. And they convey that,” she said.  “We're trying to show that chamber music can be incredibly fun."    

Tonight's Trinity Baptist Church concert is called Into the Twilight.

"Starting off with a Schubert Quartetsatz, a short and very stormy string quartet. And we're doing a really cool arrangement of Don Quixote. And the second half we're doing a living composer — John Harbison — Twilight Music,” she said. “And then we're finishing with the lush, romantic Fauré piano quintet."

Saturday night's selection is called Baying at the Moon, and starts with Beethoven's Moonlight sonata.

"And then a piece by Shostokovich. It's the Viola Sonata, his very last piece he ever wrote," she said.

Additional pieces feature several guest musicians.

"The last piece is a beautiful Beethoven sextet for two horns and string quartet," she said.

The Cactus Pear Music Festival wraps next weekend.  

IF YOU GO What: Cactus Pear Music Festival Where: various, check schedule When: varies Cost:  $5-$28

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