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The mission of Musical Bridges Around the World (MBAW) is to introduce music and musicians of many cultures to the San Antonio public, and it has been doing just that for the past 15 years. Then four years ago, the organization started its International Music Festival that brings more musical riches to local audiences over a span of a couple of weeks. Suffice to say, that if I could, I would go to every one of the scheduled concerts. It’s a unique opportunity to experience a range of styles, genres and cultures live and in close-up. Do not expect folkloric music, however. These artists are innovators who follow their own muses.

The festival opens this weekend with American gospel and soul music, and then continues with a lineup of artists from Spain, Canada, Indonesia, Syria, Argentina and Cuba.

On Valentine’s Day, accordion virtuoso Victor Prieto and his jazz trio from the Spanish province of Galicia, will entertain concertgoers at The Southwest School of Art Chapel. Yes, jazz trio. You don’t normally associate the accordion with jazz, but that’s why this guy is an innovator. He will be followed on Feb. 16 by Zoe Keating, a Canadian cellist who combines live performance with computer-generated music to create her own unique sound. (Also at SSA).

Two days later, Indonesian piano prodigy Joey Alexander and his trio will wow the crowd at the Empire Theater. And this will be followed by a show that intrigues me the most – the play/performance piece, “Lost Spring.” created by Syrian-Armenian artists about the genocide the Armenian people experienced during WWI. Visual artist Kevork Mourad will be on stage, creating paintings on the spot as the action develops. (Alvarez Theater, Tobin Center)

In honor of the San Antonio Symphony’s ongoing Mozart Festival, MBAW is also presenting an evening of “opera bits” from the composer’s best known operas, sung by up-and-coming vocalists from the Houston Grand Opera Studio. (Empire Theater) No great innovation here, but, as far as I know, this is be the only operatic contribution to the Mozart fest. And Mozart wrote quite a few operas.

The fest will close with two great concerts: JP Jofre Hard Tango Chamber Band (Empire Theater), and the Cuban jazz star, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and his quartet at the Tobin Center.
For only $60 you can reserve a seat for all eight events. Otherwise, access is free but the venues may fill up fast. (www.musicalbridges.org)
Have fun!

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