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

Opera, Baroque And A Gallery Opening: Your Weekend Is Here

This weekend, you can learn more about unique Chicano art. You can rediscover Romeo and Juliet. And then you enjoy an elegant and creative take on baroque music.  

First off, head to downtown's Centro De Artes Gallery for a two-floor, two tiered visual arts exhibit. Here's artist José Esquivel.

"It's yet to be discovered by the rest of America and considered to be part of American art," he said.   

He's talking about the work of three Chicano artists displayed in what the gallery is calling Los Maestros.

"Los Maestros means that we were teachers — teachers that first started this Chicano art movement."

Credit Jack Morgan

That movement grew out of the political activism of the ‘60s, and the 100+ paintings and drawings of the exhibit show works from Jose, Rudy Trevino and Jesse Almazán. Esquivel said just looking around his neighborhood he found never-ending art inspiration.

"The barrio where we grew up just had all this material that I considered to be a gold mine," he said.

It's an amazing overview from three different perspectives. The first floor exhibit was curated by Suzy González and Michael Menchaca and covers newer and more diverse voices.

"XicanX New Visions is looking at the history of the Chicano art movement from the past and the present and how it's progressed,"  González said.

Menchaca said the 72 pieces represent the work of 34 different artists.

Credit Jack Morgan
Painting from Centro De Artes exhibition

"To make sure that we included a range of genders, documentation statuses, education backgrounds, different regions throughout the nation, and ancestral backgrounds," he said. 

Both exhibits run through late June and are free from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. daily. 

IF YOU GO What: Los Maestros And XicanX Exhibition Where: Centro De Artes When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily Cost:  free

Then on Saturday, Antony Walker and Opera San Antonio brings you a story you probably know.

"Bellini's The Capulets and the Montagues is based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, which is a story that comes from almost a thousand years ago now in Italy," he said. 

This one though, has a twist on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

"In the final scene Juliet actually wakes up before Romeo dies. And they have a little duet," Walker said.

Walker is here from Washington D.C. and says this production is top notch.

"I'm really thrilled with the cast, I have to say. You have singers who are absolutely excellent in this repertoire," he said. 

Music will be provided by chamber quartet Agarita.

"What wonderful players! As you can tell I'm really excited about it!" he said laughing. 

The concert will be performed at the University of the Incarnate Word, and the Italian singing will be translated and titled above the performance so you can understand every word.

IF YOU GO What: The Capulets and the Motagues Where: Luella Bennack Music Center When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday Cost:  $45

Then on Sunday a concert from the Austin Baroque Orchestra, a group which Billy Traylor says takes Baroque music very seriously.  

Credit Courtesy of Austin Baroque Orchestra
Austin Baroque Orchestra

"We perform music everywhere from the 16th to the 19th century, and we do so using copies of instruments from the appropriate time periods," he said.

Sunday's concert actually has very curious roots: A manuscript from Colonial and very religious New Orleans. Traylor speculated on the reasons for the music. 

"It gave them pop music with sacred text to sort of keep their mind out of the gutter," he said. 

Oddly, they would take popular music, and re-purpose it, like Weird Al Yankovic. Although their objectives were quite different than his. 

"Weird Al — he does it because it's funny," Traylor said. "In the case of this manuscript  from New Orleans it was done, basically I think to keep the girls from listening to pop music."

He will bring from Austin four sopranos to sing.

"And we'll have a small ensemble with a violin, a flute, viola de gamba, a theorbo and Harpsichord," he said. "Theorbo is the big bass lute with the long strings that was developed in the 16th and 17th centuries."

The Our Lady of the Atonement church concert begins with a pre-concert backstory talk to give context and what to look out for. And it's free. 

IF YOU GO What: Austin Baroque Orchestra Where: Our Lady of Atonement Catholic Church When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday talk, 3 p.m. performance Cost:  free

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