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It was all about connections, this Cavatina concert.  Only two instruments, both relatively simple but with a storied history:  an acoustic guitar and a golden flute – what could be simpler?  But what melodies and historical connections they produced! 

There were two musicians, connected by their countries’ surprisingly interwoven histories and cultures.  Eugenia Molinar, flutist extraordinaire, explained to us that her husband’s Slavic aunt spoke archaic Spanish and that her own Spanish grandmother lit a Shabat candle every Friday evening; she didn’t even realize the significance of the candle but, like the music her own granddaughter now performs, the candle was engrained in her cultural memory from centuries past.  The richness of this program (which included music from the Seventeenth Century to modern music) kept the audience captive in its mastery and, more importantly, its warmth.  The Temple was the perfect venue for exploring heritage.

Denis Azabagic, despite his self-deprecating humor about his status as second fiddle to his wife’s golden flute, is quite obviously a master of the kind of quiet, lyrical and utterly magical guitar music this audience greatly appreciated.  The two musicians together were able to spin a mystical web of swirling cadenzas, irresistible tangos and superb sound.

The two musicians together were able to spin a mystical web of swirling cadenzas, irresistible tangos and superb sound.

This concert was unique in that it presented the premiere of a work by Matthew Dunne.  The connection between Mr. Dunne and the Cavatina is a close one and the duo had the pleasure of meeting the person in honor of whom Mr. Dunne composed his Three Artisans, flutist Tal Perkes.  Matthew Dunne is also a well-known guitarist and has composed music for some of the best guitarists now performing; but this composition came straight from the heart.  His good friend, Tal (a flutist with the San Antonio Symphony), was posthumously honored as artist, architect and flutist and his tribute was flawlessly performed by the Cavatina Duo.

This was a different chamber music concert: only two musicians filling Temple with amazing technique and connecting with the audience in a particularly heartfelt way.  I noted as well one more connection:  when the Cavatina performed Isabel, by Joseph Williams, a piece inspired by Sephardic Jews who were driven from Ms. Molinar’s homeland of Spain in the Sixteenth Century, I remembered I had heard that this date, January 27th, marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  And just as the ugliness of the death of Isabel, this young Jewish woman in Spain, the beauty of the music endures.  Just as the sorrow for the death of a good friend and fellow artist saddens, he is immortalized in music.

– E Doyle

Cavatina Duo Concert

January 27, 2019

World Premier: this concert will feature a special SACMS-commissioned piece by S.A. composer Matthew Dunne to celebrate the life of the late San Antonio Symphony Principal Flutist Tal Perkes.


“Three Artisans” was composed in memory of the flutist Tal Perkes and was inspired by significant passions he held throughout his life. The Painter begins with a pensive musing by the solo flute, and continues with a whimsical and improvisatory gypsy jazz-inspired tune. The Architect is a tightly constructed, organically developed piece that pays homage to his late-inlife pursuit of design and building, while The Flute Player is a tribute to his musical spirit and virtuosity. Tal was an avid traveler, both literally (as his flute career demanded), and intellectually, as his curiosity and interests ranged across an unusually wide spectrum. As a nod to this traveling spirit, each movement has a connection to music from gypsy traditions; midcentury European jazz in the first, a theme inspired by a traditional Romani tune in the second, and Flamenco influences in the third. (Matthew Dunne)


Cavatina Duo

The Cavatina Duo – Eugenia Moliner, flute (Spain) and Denis Azabagic, guitar (Bosnia)—has become one of the most impressive combinations of its kind in the world. Dedicated soloists and chamber musicians, the Cavatina Duo breaks convention with their combination of instruments. Add to that their daring choices of varied and versatile repertoire, and the result is new sounds, colors and musical phrasings, which in return awakens a high level of emotion and audience response. A Cavatina Duo concert is a musical experience you don’t want to miss.

The Cavatina Duo has captivated audiences with their electrifying performances in such major venues and festivals as Ravinia’s Rising Stars series (Chicago), Da Camera Society (Los Angeles), Aix-en-Provence Summer Festival (France), the National Concert Hall of Taipei (Taiwan), National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing (China), National Flute Convention Gala Concert (USA), the Harris Theater (Chicago), Kolkata International Guitar Festival (India), Foundation Principe Felipe and Palau de la Musica (Spain), among many others.

Radio and television stations in Europe and North America such as WFMT and NPR have broadcast the duo’s performances. They have been the subjects of interviews in international magazines such as Chamber Music America, TodoFlauta (Spain), FluteTalk (USA), Classical Guitar (UK), Guitarra Magazine (web), Soundboard (USA) and Flute—the British Flute Society. They are the first guitar and flute duo to be featured on the covers of both Classical Guitar Magazine (UK) and the cover of FluteTalk (USA)

Cavatina Duo has performed with orchestras and string quartets in Europe, USA, India, South Korea and Mexico including the Chicago Sinfonietta, Traverse Symphony, Sarajevo Philharmonic, Daejeon Philharmonic and the Youth Orchestra of Monterrey, Mexico. In 2010 Cavatina Duo gave the world premier of another work commissioned by them from Alan Thomas, “Concerto for Flute, Guitar and Orchestra,” with the Camerata Serbica at the Guitar Art Festival in Belgrade.

Eugenia Moliner has been acclaimed as “brilliant” by the British Flute Society magazine. She has performed with principal musicians from the Chicago Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony orchestras as well with many chamber ensembles, including the Chicago Chamber Musicians, Civitas Ensemble, Chinese Fine Arts Musicians. This season she will collaborate with the Aspen String Trio. Her discography includes seven CDs.

A prize-winner in twenty-four international competitions, Denis Azabagic has been described as a “virtuoso with flawless technique” by Soundboard Magazine. He has appeared as soloist with orchestras such as the Chicago and Madrid Symphonies, among many others. Azabagic has collaborated with the Chicago Chamber Musicians, the Civitas Ensemble and the Cuarteto Casals. His discography includes twelve CDs, two DVDs and a manual.

“Style, sympathy, and technical aplomb …’s doubtful that the Cavatina’s sophisticated and artistic playing could be surpassed!”


“They are first-rate musicians, consummate performers with exquisite musical taste.”

Diane Mitchell, Hemet (CA) Community Concert Association


Eugenia Moliner (flute)
Denis Azabagic (guitar)


Les Folies d’Espagne


Fantasy on themes from “La Traviata,” after Krakamp, Briccialdi and Tarrega (Commissioned by
the Cavatina Duo)


(World Premier)
Three Artisans

Histoire du Tango


Temple Beth-El
Address: 211 Belknap Place
Time: 3:15 PM


The holidays have come and gone, and they do so faster each year.  Have you noticed, too?  Seems like I just got the Christmas tree decorated, the wreath up on the door and the cards posted hither and yon (I don’t have nearly as many “hither and yons” as I used to, I noticed).  Now it’s time to pick up the paper and the ribbons, dividing up that which can be re-used and that which goes into the recycler; it’s time to take down the jaunty little tree with its fruit of  precious ornaments, its icicles of foil and my favorite crocheted angles, its chandelier crystals that sparkled in the tiny lights.  And with it all packed away, so goes that very special feeling one has at Christmas time.  It’s the same sense of joyful possibilities I’ve felt since childhood, I confess.  By the first week in January, I’ve settle back into my old habits, the optimism I felt for the old world and its woes has settled into grey reality as I wonder if the furnace will make it through just one more winter. 

…But in hopes that I can capture again some of the fun of seasons past, I offer a re-gifted gift of wasted thyme and other strange and well-seasoned thoughts…

Among the leftovers, though, I found some craziness I had not been able to cram into the blog posts of the old year, and – waste not, want not (or whatnot as the case may be), I’ve made the brave decision not to pack them away, rather to try to find a place for them.  So what follows is a bit like saving a New Year’s champagne cork, trying to work it back into the bottle and hope that the champagne will keep its bubble.  I apologize in advance; I know the champagne’s probably flat and the Christmas turkey should have been made into soup by now.  But in hopes that I can capture again some of the fun of seasons past, I offer a re-gifted gift of wasted thyme and other strange and well-seasoned thoughts:

1)   Have you ever thought about the sound of a spider playing castanets?  Now, add to that a flamingo dancing – of course – flamenco.  If you’re thinking of Berlioz, you’re just cheating!

2)   Do black holes really exist, or are they products of the fevered imagination of some astrophysicist trying to scare us all half to death with the prospect of an enormous vacuum cleaner pulling us ever closer? Bless you, Stephen Hawking.  I wish you could come back and tell us just what a black hole is.  Does it make a terrible sucking sound?  Would it terrify house cats?  Maybe there are millions of little black holes and we live with them not even knowing.  Might explain missing socks and keys….

3)   Does anyone really know how to use Microsoft 10?

4)   Do window washers working on the windows of multi-story buildings ever look down?  I suppose the very brave who have confidence in the scaffolding and the straps might, but why would anyone be up there, squeegee-ing windows?  Perhaps the feeling that they are doing something no one else would dare to try – like playing a Paganini sonata on a borrowed violin, maybe.  Perhaps they fool their minds into believing that the clouds are their friends, or that the people on the street really are just ants.  And you know the old saying that maybe they keep in mind:  it’s not the fall, it’s the landing.

5)   What was the last really good movie you saw?  Was it in color or black and white?

6)   Consider the tango, please.  Of course, we know it’s an institution in Argentina, but how did people imagine that distinctive rhythm and even begin to think they could dance to it let alone write so many variations?   Living in Buenos Aires, I recognized the tango as the music of the latest revolution; it was played, in its many iterations, over and over again when the news was too inflammatory to broadcast, so my association with tango may not be as pleasant as yours.  You enjoy the compositions of Piazzolla and Gardel as sensual, beautiful music.  I grit my teeth and wait for the sound of shattering windows.  It’s all in the associations.

Fear not for we do have some truly exciting, non-re-gifted presents for you.

Well, it’s definitely time to re-cork the champagne.  It may be a bit flat, but mix it with some orange juice and call it mimosa.  Cheers!  Here’s to 2019 and wonderful music to enjoy just as much as flamingos dancing – no, I’m not going there again.  Fear not for we do have some truly exciting, non-re-gifted presents for you. January 27, we present the Cavatina Duo, doing what no one’s ever done before with just a guitar and a flute played by two masters of their instruments.  Furthermore, we bring you the world premiere of “Three Artisans,” a composition by San Antonio’s own master of the guitar, Matthew Dunne.  Shake off the cobwebs and leftovers of 2018 and begin a bright, sparkling season of musical joy.

Best wishes for your own new year!

– E Doyle

American String Quartet with Poet, Tom Sleigh Outreach Event

American String Quartet with Poet, Tom Sleigh at Brandeis High School on November 12, 2018

On Veteran’s Day, Monday, November 12, SACMS hosted one of its most exciting Outreach events ever.  It was exciting because we had 450 music students in the audience at Brandeis High School!  The American String Quartet along with poet, Tom Sleigh, pulled back the curtain and explained how they put together their marvelous program Lyric in Time of War.  For those of you who were lucky enough to be in the audience on Sunday, November 11, you know this was an unusual program in that it was without intermission or applause until the end.  And in between musical selections, there were readings by Mr. Sleigh and author Phil Klay.  The format was different at the Outreach as artists explained throughout the program how music sometimes says more than words, and the brevity of poetry can encapsulate the essence of a difficult topic such as war.

Mr. Sleigh read some poetry during the educational concert on Monday and explained how he chose the poems.  The mutual respect and synchronicity of spirit between the musicians and the narrator was palpable to all.  The quartet played portions of Shostakovich Quartet No. 8, Bach from Well-Tempered Clavier, Bartók Quartet No. 6, and Beethoven Op. 95 Serioso, all music they chose to express some aspect of warOr in the instance of the Bach work, peace. 

The students showed maturity in their numerous insightful and thoughtful questions; they were also rapt with attention when listening.  Much of the credit for this extraordinary educational experience goes to Kevin and Jennifer Garcia-Hettinger who are music teachers at Brandeis High School and private string teachers.  Kevin went out of his way to bus in several middle school classes of music students.  We are grateful to have such generous mentoring in our community for the next generation of musicians.

If you enjoy knowing about our Outreach events and want to support more, please consider making a gift to the Mandel Outreach Perpetual Trust. Details at

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

The Holiday Bowl

Here we are, just a few days before Thanksgiving and the official start of the Christmas season.  The River will soon be festooned with lights, downtown buildings will sport lights and decorations and cars will sprout antlers and red noses on their hoods.  In my house, there is a slight vibration, a humming sound coming from a kitchen cabinet – and I know what it is.   It is the atoms that make up the special, green pottery bowl; they are quivering with anticipation of their annual holiday turn.

You know there has to be a story here and here it is.  Years ago, I became the current keeper of a large bowl.  It’s an ordinary-looking bowl: made of sturdy pottery, a dark jade green in color and with a wide rim that allows a firm grip.  It holds about 2 quarts, I guess, although I’ve never tested capacity.  I suspect that it may have been one of a set of green pottery bowls, but I don’t know for sure.  Anyway, if it was, it is the sole survivor.

And why is it special, this rather homely green bowl?  Originally, it was in the care of my grandmother, a dairy farmer from Ireland.  Perhaps the color appealed to her, perhaps it was the heft of the pottery.  She was a lady known to be a superb bread maker, and the green bowl would have been just the right size and shape for dough.  Then the bowl came down to my mother.  In my recollection of home, the same home where my grandmother had lived, there was a large, walk-in pantry that smelled of spices and contained rows of mysterious glass jars and bins for flour and sugar.  There on a shelf was everything needed for holiday meal preparation: a big, black roaster oven, ample enough for an enormous turkey, the pot that was big enough for a dozen or more potatoes (not to be mistaken for the sweet potato pot); there was the colander you’d need for the green beans; the pie plates for that special pecan pie that only my mother could make; the cut glass dish for the cranberry sauce – and the green pottery bowl.

Originally, it was in the care of my grandmother, a dairy farmer from Ireland.  Perhaps the color appealed to her, perhaps it was the heft of the pottery.  She was a lady known to be a superb bread maker, and the green bowl would have been just the right size and shape for dough. 

In my experience, the green pottery bowl was only used to make dressing for the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys.  (Some call it “stuffing,” but I think that sounds like something you’d put in a mattress.)   Three or four days before the start of the serious preparation began, slices of bread would be arranged on baking sheets and left in a sunny window to dry out.  Then we’d make corn bread that included a little bacon grease in the mix.  And then someone would be assigned to very carefully lift the green pottery bowl from the pantry shelf and wipe it with a dish towel.  In goes the cut-up bread, in goes the cubed corn bread, in goes the celery and spices, in goes the stock — and the magic begins.           

So now I have made holiday dressing in the green pottery bowl for more than 50 years.  It has traveled the world over with my dishes and pots and pans, but is only taken down from its special place for the creation of dressing.  I suspect that this bowl carries within its pottery some very special spices, some magical ingredient that three generations of women have ingrained into it.  It has a little bit of Ireland, a little bit of Texas farm, a smidge of Bolivia, a taste of Argentina and of Brazil and a cold, cold touch of Quebec stored away in its elemental clay.  This is a bowl that knows its place and its role, and always gives its all to every holiday feast.  It has not a chip or scratch, it has NEVER experienced a dishwasher and will be passed on to yet another generation in my family.  It’s probably not worth the pottery it’s made of, but in my family, it is a treasure.

In these coming days, I will carefully lift the green pottery bowl from its place in the cupboard, wipe it out with a dish towel, think of my mother and grandmother, and start making the world’s best dressing!

I hope you too have a treasure and a tradition to enjoy this holiday season.  And here’s to all the cherished green pottery bowls.  Best wishes from your friends, the San Antonio Chamber Music Society.

– E Doyle

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