January used to be a relatively quiet month for artists and audiences alike, giving people some time to recover from the normally intense holiday season. It’s no longer the case. January 2016 is bursting with interesting stuff on many fronts but especially in music.
To begin with, the Las Americas Festival is in full swing with some of the most interesting concerts scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 22-24 and in the days to follow. Tonight and Saturday, the San Antonio Symphony will present “American Cello,” that includes the world premiere of “of fields unfolding… echoing depths of resonant light,” a new cello concerto by American composer Jeffrey Mumford with cellist Christine Lamprea. To keep with the Las Americas theme, the concert will also feature Astor Piazzolla’s “Tangazo,” described as “an evocative ode” to Buenos Aires,” as well as John Adams’ Él Dorado,” and Bernstein’s “Divertimento,” “a rollicking tribute” to Boston and that city’s symphony.
But there’s a lot more. Another brand new work will premiere Monday and Tuesday when the city’s unique SOLI Chamber Ensemble joins the festivities. The only group devoted exclusively to new music, the SOLI commissioned international star Clarice Assad to create a new piece, titled “Elementos,” especially for this occasion. Other compositions on the program will take you on a veritable tour of the Americas, from Argentina, Brazil and Peru to Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. (www.solichamberensemble.com)
And let’s mention the Carver Community Cultural Center’s contribution to the festival which is a sure audience pleaser: the Monterrey Jazz Festival on Tour, featuring six top jazz musicians all of whom have performed at the famed summer festival in California (www.thecarver.org). (For more info on other Las Americas events go to the SAS site www.sasymphony.org/Fest50)
On the theater front, I suggest you see “Stage Kiss,” an engaging comedy by Sarah Ruhl which is also a premiere of sorts, since this is the play’s first San Antonio production. (www.theplayhousesa.org)
And the Majestic Theater will start a week-long run of the touring musical “Kinky Boots,” winner of multiple Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Choreography and Best Original Music, the latter written by Cyndi Lauper. (www.majestic.theatresanantonio.com)
Photo: Renee Garvens and Tyler Keyes in “Stage Kiss”; photo by Siggi Ragnar