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

New Life To Day Of The Dead, Classical Music And The Beatles: Your Weekend Is Here

Courtesy Day of the Dead San Antonio
Frida and Diego barge

Witness a new Day of the Dead event at La Villita. Listen to a symphony reimagine the Beatles. And then watch a youth arts group team up with members of a chamber orchestra. The weekend is here, and there’s much to do! 

First off, let’s head to La Villita where Chef Johnny Hernandez is co-producing the city's brand new Day of the Dead San Antonio. He reminds us that some Unesco World Heritage designations aren’t for buildings or communities, but for cultural concepts.

Credit courtesy Day of the Dead San Antonio
From left Chef Hernandez, Father Garcia-Silver, Javier Ruiz-Gallindo, Andres Muñoz Barge Preview Oct. 8, 2019.

"What people don't realize is that Day of the Dead is a UNESCO celebration of humanity," he said.

And he thinks San Antonio has enough connection to the Day of the Dead that it should embrace the custom as its own.  

"It is certainly not Halloween. It’s not scary. It’s not about death. It's about life and the celebration of life," he said. 

The city's celebration will take place around La Villita and the San Antonio river, where tonight a brand new river parade kicks off.

"What is being produced has never been seen before in San Antonio," Hernandez said. 

Dozens of nightlit Day of the Dead floats will float the horseshoe bend downtown, and then La Villita events run all weekend.

"There's going to be a lot of music, a lot of entertainment, a lot of dance," he said. 

There will be much food, drink and lots of activities for the young ones.

"We have some workshops for kids to do. Also, if they want to make their own bread. We have sugar skull decorating," he said.

Processions will play out every day, pan de muerte will be cooked, and of course, there will be many altars. Some will be family altars, and others were created by artists.

“It's going to be magical," he said. 

Credit Courtesy Day of the Dead San Antonio
Selena Catrina

IF YOU GO What: Day of the Dead San Antonio Where: La Villita When: 6 -11 p.m. Friday & Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday Cost:  mostly free, certain events ticketed

Also Friday and Saturday nights: If you like the San Antonio Symphony, and you like the Beatles, Jenna Jernigan says you're in for a treat.

"Revolution: The Music of the Beatles, a Symphonic Experience is a really fun, magical journey. It features Grammy winner Jeff Tysik's arrangements, and they're transcribed from the original Abbey Road Recordings," she said.

Classically trained Beatles producer George Martin wrote scores to accompany the group’s songs, famously giving much of the music a sound a feel that other rock-n-roll groups didn’t have. This Revolution: The Music of the Beatles performance is one that plays the band’s music with each city’s symphony.  

"And there's also a group of people to do on the band, and they do this with other orchestras all around the nation," Jernigan said.

This is a mixture of symphonic music with rock musicians added to represent the Beatles themselves. Two of the musicians chosen for this show are well known in San Antonio: Emilio and Diego Navaira, sons of Tejano Superstar Emilio Navaira, Sr. 

Associate Conductor Noam Avieltakes the reins on this production.

“She grew up in Israel but she has a lot of really strong connections to the Beatles from her time growing up,” Jernigan said. “So it's really fun to hear her talk about those things."

Credit Jack Morgan
Diego and Emilio Navaira

IF YOU GO What: Revolution: The Music of the Beatles Where: The Tobin Center When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday Cost:  $15-$100

Then, on Saturday Chamber group Agarita teams up with afterschool youth arts group Say Sí. Here's pianist Daniel Anastasio:

"It's a concert that features spoken word by Say Sí students, as well as movement, and our own program of music to accompany that," he said. 

As to what music they're playing, he says it will be a real mix.

"Traditional music like Ravel Trio to like music of today like young composer Molly Joyce,” Anastasio said. “It's a real diverse program."

Sarah Silver Manzke plays violin with the San Antonio Symphony, and Agarita.

"There actually will be one live spoken word segment, or piece, that's really powerful and very, very cool, with some movement as well," she said.

Credit Natalia Sun
Sarah Silver Manzke, husband Marc and son Ori

This is all part of Say Sí's Muertitosfestcelebration, which features a lot of student art.

"It is free admission, however if you want to make sure you get a great seat for the show, be sure to show up early to get your seats," Manzke said.

The event is Saturday at 3 p.m. at Say Sí on South Alamo Street.

"We think it'll be powerful."

IF YOU GO What: Agarita at Say Sí Where: Say Sí When: 3 p.m. Saturday Cost:  free

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