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

Musical Collaborations And A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play: Your Weekend Is Here

Natalia Sun
Agarita's pianist Daniel Anastasio

Explore the lives of immigrant Cuban cigar rollers. Enjoy the music from some of the best movies ever made. And use a concert at the Women's Club to introduce a friend to classical music. The weekend is here, and the fun awaits. 

First off, the Classic Theater's Kelly Roush recommends their production of Anna In The Tropics.

"We open Anna in the Tropics tonight (Friday). It is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Nilo Cruz, about a Cuban immigrant family who rolls cigars," she said.

Credit Siggi Ragnar
Josey Porras, Joshua Segovia

Set in 1920s Ybor City, outside Tampa — just listen to what this cigar factory does for its workers. 

"They bring in a lector, to read to them literature while they roll cigars all day," Roush said.

In this production, the lector is reading Anna Karenina to them.

"We watch how the story affects each of them and pulls them apart in some ways, and pulls them together, in many ways,” she said. “It's really lovely and intimate."

Roush says back then Cubans arrived confident in what they had to offer the new world.

"The Cuban immigrants came over saying 'We have our hands. We are bringing industry to you,' and made Tampa as affluent as it was," Roush said.

The industry changed over time though, and mechanization brought the lector's time to a close.

"Lectors were gone from the factories by 1931, because you couldn't hear them over the machines," she said. 

Credit Jack Morgan
Set piece from Anna In The Tropics

But you can get a glimpse of their time here through Anna in the Tropics on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through March 1. 

IF YOU GO What: Anna in the Tropics Where: Classic Theatre When: 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. on Sunday Cost:  $19-$34

On Saturday, Chamber Ensemble Agarita has a collaboration planned. Here's Violist Marisa Bushman.

Credit Natalia Sun
Marisa Bushman

“We are performing at the Women's Club of San Antonio — a performance called Stanzas of Sound. It will be a collaboration with award-winning poet  Laura Van Prooyen,” Bushman said. “In basically pairing some of her selections of her work The Amazing Machine, poems, with music.”

Sarah Silver Manzke plays violin.

“This program is quite diverse and really cool from a musical perspective. Marisa will be playing this really cool piece called The Three G's by Kenji Bunch, in which she actually tunes three of her strings to G,” she said. “It creates a really cool, kind of edgy sound that most people aren't used to hearing from a solo viola. We are also playing pieces by Jessica Meyer, a string trio.”

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

The concert is held at the Victorian mansion Women's Club, but the concert’s not restricted to members. 

“Everyone's welcome! We hope to have a really big crowd,” Bushman said. “The most important thing to remember about all our concerts is that they're free. Bring someone who hasn't been to a classical music concert before." 

 IF YOU GO What: Agarita concert Where: San Antonio Women’s Club When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday Cost:  free

Then on Oscar Sunday, another musical collaboration at the Tobin Center. Here’s Youth Orchestra of San Antonio’s Troy Peters. 

Troy Peters conducts a group of YOSA musicians.
Credit courtesy Libby Day
Troy Peters

"On Sunday we're going to be performing At The Movies, a program of film music, for chorus and orchestra, with the San Antonio Chamber Choir and  YOSA collaborating on this amazing concert," he said. 

And given its odd time slot, you needn't choose one event or the other.

"It's a 4-o'clock concert and so you'll get out in plenty of time to make it home and see the red carpet," he said.

The Chamber Choir's Rick Bjella says they're doing something really different this time 'round.

Credit Jeannie Barrick
Rick Bjella

"Yeah, we're starting off with Carmina Burana. We have eight high school choirs that are joining us from the balconies, so the surround sound effect for the audience; it'll be just amazing," he said. 

Carmina Burana is a piece that a lot of people who don't know choral music would know.

“Yeah, they do!” chuckled Bjella. 

[insert Carmina Burana here]

Peters listed some of the other numbers attendees will see being played. 

“And then we're moving on to film music classics by John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Danny Elfman, lots of familiar titles like Schindler's List and Star Wars and music that you will remember,” he said. 

Most songs are collaborations, but as Bjella notes, not all.

"We have one feature for the choir alone. We're doing the Elgar Nimrod Movement, with just the voices," he said. 

The YOSA symphony has just one piece they’re playing alone as well.

IF YOU GO What: YOSA/San Antonio Chamber Choir concert Where: Tobin Center When: 4 p.m. Sunday Cost:  $16-$22

Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the incorrect date for Agarita. It is on Saturday.

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