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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world. To listen to KPAC 88.3 FM, simply open the player in the gray ribbon at the top of this page and choose KPAC: Classical Music.

Momentos Musicales 2022 on KPAC

Hispanic Heritage Month
NPR

Momentos Musicales is a set of weekday miniatures exploring the migration of Hispanic/Latinx culture and music across multiple borders. Migration is a hot button issue, describing immigrants arriving at our southern borders, fleeing violence, poverty or famine in their native lands, more often arriving from Central America and Mexico. Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ll examine the influence and migration of cultures as it relates to classical music.

Listen each weekday at 2:00 on KPAC 88.3 FM for the program, hosted by TPR's James Baker. The first episode is available for listening at the top of this page, and additional episodes are embedded below.

Broadcast of "Momentos Musicales" on KPAC is made possible by Soluna & El Mirasol Restaurants, and PlainsCapital Bank.

EPISODE 1

The Mexican composer Eugenio Toussaint depicted migration in his ballet score "Dias de los Muertos," which follows the Arteaga Family from the village of Xochiltepec, migrating toward the Arizona border alongside many other hungry Mexican families. The Arteagas finally cross over to join other family members who have settled in a place called Avongate. It's an invented story which mirrors today's reality.

Immigration is multi-faceted. It's not just the poor, the hungry, the disenfranchised with only the clothes on their backs. Immigration can be short term. It can be Eugenio Toussaint's ballet crossing the border to be danced in Tucson. It might be the Orquesta Filarmonica de la Ciudad de Mexico, barnstorming across America in 1981. Maybe you heard them when they concluded their tour at Lila Cockrell Theater here in San Antonio. It was a special evening which opened with something Mexican, maybe Janitzio by Revueltas, and ended with Respighi's "Pines of Rome," As I sat in my mezzanine seat, I became more and more enamored by this orchestra. It was a relatively young orchestra, but was loaded with fine players.

The programming by the Mexico City Philharmonic was typical of most of the orchestras across Latin America, at least the most successful of them. That's what their home town audiences want to hear – a mix of Revueltas, Chavez, Marquez with Beethoven, Brahms and Respighi, and that's what they play when they tour beyond their borders.

Several months later I auditioned for, and won, a seat in the Mexico City Phil. Six weeks later the orchestra boarded a plane and flew to NYC for a special concert at the UN. What a thrill to enter that building to play with A-list soloists. There was something universal about this, especially when Kurt Waldheim, Secretary-General of the United Nations, spoke to the audience that day of the power of music in a troubled world. What a thrill.

His words: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to thank the great artists and the members of the wonderful orchestra who have made this celebration on United Nations Day possible. With their help let us send out from the United Nations a message of peace, of harmony, and above all, a message of hope."

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James first introduced himself to KPAC listeners at midnight on April 8, 1993, presenting Dvorak's 7th Symphony played by the Cleveland Orchestra. Soon after, he became the regular overnight announcer on KPAC.