Music Without Borders

God created the universe in 6 days! I am creating Musical Bridges’ 16th season and it takes me a LOT longer… I have many colorful elements that have yet to come together. God had to play with Light, Dark, Water, the Firmament you know… and I have to play with the dates available at a venue, for the guest artists, around San Antonio Symphony, San Antonio Arts and the Chamber Music Society scheduling, Spring Break, Passover, Easter, Fiesta and Luminaria, one-of-a-kind world class unique programing, potential funding for it, volunteer availability, guest artist’s hospitality logistics, collaborations with other organizations… and did I mention funding, and did I mentioned funding? Sometimes I wonder if to play with Light, Dark, Water and mountains would be easier…

I have a universe of my own and my building material is unique. I like to play with different genres and create truly one-of-a-kind projects – a musical melting pot that makes my blood boil with excitement. How does the combination of Flamenco from Barcelona and the St Petersburg String Quartet performing in the same concert sound to you? I find this idea incredibly invigorating! Thank goodness Alla Aranovskaya- the first violin from the quartet did not blink when I asked her if they are open to this project. “Sure!” she said, “no problem, we will come up with something spectacular!” Flamenco dancer Jose Emanuel Alvarez dazzled us as a part of our tourist routine in Barcelona last summer and now we are negotiating his visit to San Antonio as part of our inaugural International Festival.

When Cristina Pato from Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project was performing for Musical Bridges in San Antonio this season, she introduced me to some weird musicians. I am spending hours on Youtube playing with idea of bringing in the FANTASTIC clarinetist Kinan Azmeh of Syrian origin. Born, raised and educated in Damascus, now completing his doctorate in New York. His playing of the classical repertoire as well as his own compositions is mesmerizing.

By weird, I mean extremely talented one-of-a-kind musicians who hold the highest educational degrees in western music, but at the same time they feel comfortable in the worlds of music at large. They improvise and are highly influenced by their cultural and ethnic roots. Their esthetic creates a magical universe of music – music without borders.

The Israeli-Palestinian classical piano duo Duo Amal, is another first for us. Two young musicians bridge very difficult historical borders just by playing together. I decided to bring them to San Antonio and include them in our festival because I love the idea! Their repertoire consists of well-known compositions as well as pieces dedicated to them that reflect their cultural backgrounds. They are young, handsome piano virtuosos with a blessing from maestro Zubin Mehta himself. As an outcome of my recent Trade and Cultural Mission trip to India, the world’s best tabla player, Sandeep Das will bring authentic performances to San Fernando Cathedral and our Kids-to-Concerts. We anticipate 10,000 kids will be introduced to Indian culture by his dazzling performances.

I am not a god and would not want to be one, (Okay, I might consider being Aphrodite if you insist, but only her!) My season-creating neurosis is a big part of a one-of-a-kind fun I have every spring. I am well on the way to creating our 16th season. My next challenge is to figure out a way to combine a famous Cuban violinist, an innovative ballet company from Dallas, and a Mexican Chamber Orchestra. I am shaking with anticipation of creating a delicious combination of flavors showcasing the mise en place in their artistic glory in one harmonious masterpiece. Identifying the best international artists and producing them in unexpected multicultural programing brings me as close as possible to the divine entity and creates a truly one–of-a kind esthetic – Music Without Borders!