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Ariel Quartet Outreach Event

Ariel Quartet Outreach at Lamar Elementary School on November 11, 2019

Kudos to SACMS board member, Paul Giolma, for having us invited to present an educational outreach for very young listeners at Lamar Elementary.  Lamar is situated on one of the streets that defines the border of Mahncke Park just off Broadway.  We were greeted at the entrance by a magnificent and huge oak tree estimated to be 150 years old.  As we made our way to the gymnasium, we passed by many more equally beautiful and old oak trees in the courtyard.  The gym, open, airy, and decorated in bright colors, was our concert hall for the two concerts.  The students sat happily on the floor and squeezed up close to be near the quartet members.   A wide age range attended – for the first concert, second and third graders, and for the second, fourth through sixth graders.

The musicians began by speaking in their native languages – Sasha Kazovsky in Russian; Amit Even-Tov in Hebrew; and Jan Grüning in German.  Of course, almost no one could understand what they were saying.  So then the concept of music as universal language was introduced.  Violinist Gershon Gerchikov explained the difference between the instruments that comprise a string quartet.  The group played movements from a Haydn Quartet and a Beethoven Quartet demonstrating moods ranging from happy to sad and from introverted to extroverted.

If you would like to support the Outreach events of the SACMS, please consider donating to the Mandel Trust for Education.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

Apollo’s Fire Outreach Event

Apollo’s Fire Outreach at The Towers on October 7, 2019

On October 7, rejuvenated by one of the first cool mornings of our south Texas autumn, residents of The Towers enjoyed a delightful private concert of baroque violin and traverso music. Violinist Olivier Brault and traverso (wooden flute) player Kathie Stewart delivered an intimate performance under the beautiful vaulted skylight in The Towers lobby.  We watched puffy white clouds go by while listening to music of Telemann and Bach. Both musicians explained how their instruments came to be developed and how they differ from their modern-day descendants. Each musician performed a solo work displaying characteristics of the baroque period specific to their instrument. They followed up by playing several movements from a Telemann duet.

Olivier appears to be living stylishly with one foot in an earlier century.  He sports a long ponytail tied with a black ribbon and Benjamin Franklin style glasses. He also wore an old-fashioned vest accented with a gold watch chain dangling from the pocket.  He is the very embodiment of a baroque musician!

We are pleased to be able to present Outreach Events around our community. If you would like to support this activity, please consider making a gift to the Mandel Outreach Perpetual Trust.  

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

Wu Han Outreach Event

Wu-Han at St. Mary’s Hall on April 28, 2019

Following the Han-Setzer-Finckel Trio concert on Sunday April 28, pianist Wu Han gave a beautiful Outreach Concert at St. Mary’s Hall for around 250 students aged 14-17, faculty, and a handful of Chamber Music Society board members. Chaplain Cameron Gunnin set the scene beautifully with a vivid description of Wu Han that captured her multi-faceted career in a compelling way. The students were incredibly well-behaved, attentive, and respectful. It was obvious that they are well-shepherded by Chaplain Gunnin and the faculty at St. Mary’s Hall.

Wu Han talked about her life growing up in Taiwan and attending a private Catholic school where she had a rigorous training and education. She also described with infectious enthusiasm her many jobs ranging from performer, to arts administrator, to fund raiser, to educator. She played several works by Spanish composers Albéniz and Granados that she had recently performed on tour in Spain.

During the Q&A portion of the concert one young man asked Wu Han if she knew any music by French composer Erik Satie. She replied no, but that she had recently recorded the Faure Piano Quartets and advised that he should listen to them. She told the student that if he would give her his address, she would mail him a copy of the CD when it is released. Sure enough, I saw him up on stage after the concert exchanging addresses with her. She told me later that he had told her that listening to classical music relaxed him and allowed him to do better in basketball games!

Throughout the Q&A Wu Han’s answers to the students’ questions were global in scope and had applications for skills in lifemanship.  Wu Han and her trio are amazing ambassadors for musicians in modern society.  It is obvious by the way the trio embraced every aspect of their visit here – from Wu Han’s brilliant introduction to the Sunday concert, to the beautiful expression of the playing, to the warm interaction with audience members after the concert – that they embrace a life dedicated to the celebration and nurturing support  of live music performance.   

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

Eighth Blackbird Outreach Event

Eighth Blackbird Outreach at Morningside Manor Assisted Living on March 11, 2019

On March 11 Eighth Blackbird shared their talent with a segment of the population that is too often forgotten.  They played for an hour in the Morningside Manor assisted living unit.  Their pieces were thoughtfully chosen and warmly introduced to the quiet audience of elderly people who mostly arrived by wheelchair.

The program was completely different from the music performed by the group on Sunday here in the Temple.  We had the chance to hear a compelling work by Eighth Blackbird flutist Nathalie Joachim, from her piece “Fanm d’Aviti” (Women of Haiti).  Etude No. 12, a minimalist piece by the revered American composer Philip Glass, was soothingly played by pianist, Lisa Kaplan.  Violinist Yvonne Lam gave a riveting performance of a solo work for violin – “Dissolve, O My Heart” by Missy Mazzoli.  The group ended with “The Days Run Away” by Peter Garland, a piece for all the instruments that brought the program to a calming end.

It is difficult to witness a program in an assisted living environment without feeling very much humbled by the power of music to heal and soothe.  We are grateful to Eighth Blackbird for their loving kindness in presenting this concert.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

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

Brentano String Quartet Outreach Event

Brentano String Quartet at the Juvenile Detention Center on October 8th, 2018

On October 8th the San Antonio Chamber Music Society sponsored their third outreach event at the Juvenile Detention Center. It is always interesting to attend an event at this facility.  The staff that cares for the youth at the center focuses on education, not punishment.  The Brentano String Quartet members commented that the behavior and attention of these students was above average for any given group of students.

Audience members were treated to music by Haydn, Purcell, Bartok, Dvorak, and Mendelssohn.  Violinist Serena Canin beautifully described the Purcell movement which depicts love, loss, and sorrow – then she summed up as she tapped her heart, by saying “all of those things…” Serena’s comment left me rather breathless.

The second movement of the Bartok second quartet was the piece that really drew them in.  Violinist, Mark Steinberg introduced the work explaining how Bartok gathered much of his musical material for compositions in the small villages of Hungary.  In this work, Bartok was imitating tribal and ritual drumming.  Students visibly became more engaged during this music.

Those of us observing the concert could see how the students’ demeanor changed from arriving with slumped shoulders, to sitting up a little straighter (and in awe) during the Bartok, to all out toe-tapping during the Mendelssohn quartet movement which concluded the program.

Towards the end of the concert, one girl asked violist Misha Amory “Why are you here?”  His response was “We were invited.”  She seemed in disbelief.  So, he emphasized that “yes, we were invited and of course we accepted.”

At the end of the program cellist Nina Lee spontaneously told the students how happy the quartet was to have been able to spend the morning with them and share their music. One girl shouted out “if you played like that in court I would confess to everything!”

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

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