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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 www.SACMS.org.

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

Orion String Quartet Outreach Event

Orion String Quartet at Bexar County Jail on April 16, 2018

On a beautiful San Antonio spring morning with crisp temperatures, Kenneth Bloom and I set out with the Orion String Quartet on a trip to the Bexar County Jail.  The jail has a population capacity of 6,000 and the inmates are awaiting trial.  The wait can be up to 2 years.  Orion’s music touched the souls of only the tip of the iceberg, but in such circumstances even one touched soul means everything.

We started out in the Chapel in the Annex where women are housed.  The setting was stark with only blue plastic chairs for people to sit, a rustic altar, and a few colorful posters with biblical verses.  There was a bank of windows about 30 feet above the floor that let in peaceful natural light.  Violist, Steve Tenenbom, set a casual atmosphere chatting easily with the women who were all dressed uniformly in navy blue jumpsuits.  At one point Steve asked if any of them played instruments.  About 15 raised their hands and Steve went patiently around the room allowing every woman to say what they played.

The quartet played several movements from the program that they played on Sunday for the SACMS.  The notable moment in each chapel was when they played the Cavatina movement from Beethoven’s Op. 130.  One could have heard a pin drop during this hauntingly gorgeous and introspective music.

After 45 minutes, the quartet packed up and we headed over to the main building where they played in the men’s Chapel.  The dynamic was quite different.  The men, dressed in orange jumpsuits, were much more extroverted in their reactions calling out their (quite perceptive) observations about the music.  Again, the Cavatina noticeably calmed the audience.

It was a privilege to share this experience with the Orion Quartet who were true diplomats sharing their art and generosity of spirit and good will.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

American Brass Quintet Outreach Event

American Brass Quintet Outreach at Sacred Heart Chapel on March 5, 2018

On March 5, 2018 we heard an inspired Outreach Concert by the American Brass Quintet in the stunning Sacred Heart Chapel.  The title ‘chapel’ is a misnomer as the building is a remarkably beautiful and rather large English Gothic church which took 28 years to build.  It boasts an incredible, at least 4 to 5 seconds, reverberation of sound.  The chapel is a great source of pride to the people in the San Antonio community at large and to the West Side neighborhood in particular.  It was a fitting spot in which to hear resplendent and impeccably performed brass music.  The members of ABQ relished being able to perform in this space.

The American Brass Quintet played selections taken from their program performed on Sunday, including the commissioned work the river remembers by San Antonio composer James Scott Balentine.  San Antonio Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla gave a beautifully dramatic reading of her poem, This River Here, which provided the inspiration for Dr. Balentine’s workThere was an interesting panel discussion among composer, poet, and performers regarding the creative process in presenting, experiencing, and creating a work of art.  Over the weekend the work was played three times.  Each time the depth, flow and mystery of the San Antonio River was expanded.

This concert was a fitting and memorable tribute to our San Antonio’s Tricentennial.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

Chanticleer Outreach Event

Choral Masterclass Led By Fred Scott – Music Director Of Chanticleer at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on January 22, 2018

On January 22 we were lucky to have Fred Scott lead a masterclass for three school choirs.  The class lasted an hour and a half with each choir receiving 30 minutes of coaching by Mr. Scott.  The participating choirs performed in order of age beginning with Children’s Choir of San Antonio comprised of 5th-7th graders.  They were followed by the Madison High School Choir, and then the Trinity University Chorale.  Each choir sounded magnificent and went from great to greater!  The inspiration of being in one of the most visually and sonically superior churches in San Antonio, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, was a bonus.

The love of making music could be seen on the face of every chorister.  And then when Fred began to coach each group they showed the eager and joyful expressions of learning and improving.  Fred talked about hard and soft vowels and consonants, head-bobbing, French and Italian pronunciation, and more.  He also instructed the choir members to look at the audience and not always be glued to the conductor.

This masterclass was a unique experience among our many outreach events.  We are most grateful to the amazing musicians of Chanticleer and their equally amazing Music Director, Fred Scott for an extraordinary weekend.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

Our kids are already getting warmed up and they sound glorious 😊 we hope you are on your way to hear it in person!

Posted by The Children's Chorus of San Antonio on Monday, January 22, 2018

Rebel Baroque Outreach Event

Rebel Baroque with Matthias Maute at Judson Montessori School on November 13, 2017

On Monday morning November 13 the students at Judson Montessori School had a delightful treat when the spirited Rebel Baroque group played an informal concert for them.  The younger students sat up close on the floor of the gymnasium, while the older students sat in chairs behind them.  The students at Judson are very lucky to have as their music teacher, the talented harpsichord builder Gerald Self who generously loaned one of his harpsichords to SACMS for these performances.  Many of the students are taught how to play recorder by Mr. Self, and five of them were invited up on the stage to perform a piece by Anthony Holbourne.

The Rebel musicians played several works from their Sunday program and interspersed their performances with time out for Q&A.  It was also wonderful to hear the individual players play solos on their instruments. Harpsichordist Dongsuk Shin played a beautiful Bach Prelude that wowed the audience, and Matthias Maute played a spry unaccompanied work on recorder.

Submitted by Allyson Dawkins

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