The ART SIDE OF FIESTA
By JASMINA WELLINGHOFF
It’s Fiesta week and there’s no shortage of things to do. – parades, NIOSA, food fairs, exhibitions, parties, etc. Here are a few of my favorites that I would like to invite you to check out.
The San Antonio Symphony’s contribution to Fiesta is a trio of popular concerts called Fiesta POPS, which usually showcase Spanish/Mexican/Latin themes. The orchestra will be joined by the mariachi group Campanas de America and the Guadalupe Dance Company, the sizzling, exuberant ensemble that performs Mexican folk dances and Andalusian flamenco like the pros that they are. It’s almost impossible to stay still while watching them whirl and step to the lively rhythms of Jalisco, Veracruz and other regions of Mexico.
To make it even more special, this year, the concerts also feature Mexican baritone Octavio Moreno who will sing two numbers from “To Cross the Face of the Moon,” the first ever mariachi opera composed by Jalisco native Jose “Pepe” Martinez, the music director of the famous Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. The opera was premiered by the Houston Grand Opera in 2010, and later traveled to Paris, France, where the jaded French audiences greeted it with tears and joy, according to reports. Tears because the story was moving, joy because it was “something new and fresh.”
To balance things out, associate conductor Akiko Fujimoto has added a few classical compositions to the program as well, from – who else? – Spanish and Latin American composers. Talk about entertainment! It sounds like a winner to me. (tickets: 223-8624, www.tobi.tobincenter.org)
For more glorious music, albeit of a different genre, plan to be at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church downtown on the closing day of Fiesta, April 30. The church is known for its multifaceted music program, and for this occasion its choirs will be joined by a chamber orchestra to perform “music from the English Cathedral Tradition.” Handel’s organ concerto will also be part of the program. And it’s a free concert, to boot. I’ll be there.
A very different but also highly enjoyable event is the Fiesta Art Fair at the Southwest School of Art. The food and music bands will be there but what you’ll also find is an abundance of quality art and craft exhibits, from attractive one-of-a-kind jewelry and hand-crafted leather goods to paintings, prints, ceramics, glass pieces, and more. The atmosphere is pleasant and civilized, conducive to chatting with the artists. Last year 110 artists from 30 states took part in the fair. (Saturday and Sunday; for details go to www.swschool.org.
And for something truly relaxing, try to visit the River Walk during the Ford Mariachi Festival (April 25-27, evenings) when barges carrying mariachi bands from area schools serenade restaurant patrons and strolling visitors along the waterway. So nice!
Photos: The Guadalupe Dance Company