Throughout San Antonio, musicians are singing scales and rehearsing on bassoons, basses, and bajo sextos for a new season of concerts. The following sampling of locally based professional ensembles illustrates the city’s diverse and creative musical offerings running through the end of the year and well into 2018.

San Antonio Chamber Choir

The San Antonio Chamber Choir during a recent rehearsal. Courtesy photo.
The San Antonio Chamber Choir rehearses for forthcoming performances. Credit: Courtesy / San Antonio Chamber Choir

San Antonio’s only paid professional choral ensemble will begin its 2017-18 season this weekend with Only in Sleep, a poetic program exploring dream life. Artistic Director Rick Bjella said he is fascinated by the moods and powers our subconscious minds unleash in sleep, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s dream of building a plane. The concert ends with “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine” by contemporary composer Eric Whitacre.

Bjella’s brother, violinist Steve Bjella, will join the Chamber Choir in a performance of Bach’s Chaconne (from the Violin Partita No. 2) to which Rick Bjella added a choral complement – eight voices singing the third stanza of W.H. Auden’s poem Funeral Blues:

“He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.”

Bach wrote the Chaconne, Bjella said, after returning home from playing for a duke to discover his wife had died. Sleepless, he wrote the lamentation. Bjella changed the stanza’s “he” to “she.”

The concerts will be on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 3 and 7:30 p.m. in the Rotunda of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, and on Sunday at 3 p.m. in the University of the Incarnate Word Concert Hall. The San Antonio Chamber Choir is the Tobin’s resident choral music ensemble.

The University of the Incarnate Word Cardinal Singers and singers from the Chamber Choir’s All-State for ALL Choir Camp will join in on two pieces of music.

On Dec. 16 and 17, the season will continue with The Mystery of Christmas: Jazz and the San Antonio Chamber Choir featuring 1,000 years of jazz and choral music from Hildegard to Brubeck. The Jazz Protagonists will join the performance, as will the North East School of the Arts Dancers.

The Dec. 16 concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the McNay Art Museum‘s Leeper Auditorium, and the Dec. 17 performance will be at 3 p.m. at the Tobin’s Carlos Alvarez Studio Theatre.

Three other programs are scheduled in 2018 including San Antonio: Our Life, Our Music, part of the city’s Tricentennial celebrations.

For tickets, click here. 

Camerata San Antonio

Camerata, San Antonio’s premier string quartet, has been described as “fully equal to the best string quartets on the international circuit.” In its 14th season, it will perform six programs in Boerne, Kerrville and, on Sunday afternoons, at the University of the Incarnate Word Concert Hall. Camerata was founded in 2003 by Kenneth and Emily Freudigman, principal cellist and assistant principal violinist, respectively, of the San Antonio Symphony.

In the season opener on Oct. 1, pianist Viktor Valkov will join Camerata in romantic quintets by Frühling and Brahms, then fast forward in time to the witty Entre’ acte for String Quartet composed by Caroline Shaw, the youngest winner of the Pulitzer Prize in composition.

On Nov. 5, Camerata will present “Vivid Impressions” with quartets by French and Spanish giants Fauré, Debussy, and Turina.

The season extends through April 29, 2018 with “The Camerata Salon,” “The Notorious H.B.G.” (Haydn, Beethoven, and Philip Glass), a recital by San Antonio Symphony oboist Paul Lueders, a concert of Prokofiev, Bartók, and Ornstein with guest pianist Valkov.

For ticket and location information, click here.

SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Members of the SOLI Chamber Ensemble (from left) David Mollenauer, Stephanie Key, Ertan Torgul, and Carolyn True. Credit: Courtesy / SOLI Chamber Ensemble

A champion of contemporary chamber music, SOLI is known well beyond San Antonio for offering concerts that stretch the boundaries of traditional performances. The ensemble will present world premieres of six new commissioned works in three programs.

The first program, “On the Verge,” was designed with its new musical home Jazz TX in mind and includes three works by contemporary composers Sebastian Currier, Daniel Schnyder, and George Tsontakis. The concerts will take place Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Jazz TX, and Oct. 3 in Trinity University’s Ruth Taylor Recital Hall, also at 7:30 p.m.

Pre-concert talks start at 7 p.m. For tickets, click here.

SOLI will memorialize clarinetist and new music advocate Laura Flax (1951-2017) in concerts on Feb. 5 and 6 in the same venues and at the same hours. Flax, who was based in New York, was the sister of local arts patron Freda Flax and considered a trailblazer for women in classical music. The program will include a new work for solo clarinet written by composer Shulamit Ran – a friend of the late Flax – in her honor.

The final program of the season, “Americans in Italy,” will preview concerts SOLI will give when it serves as Ensemble-in-Residence at the Alba Music Festival Composition Program May 26 through June 4, 2018. SOLI will premiere works by four American faculty members of the festival, Jennifer Jolley, Elliott Myles McKinley, Peter Farmer, and Luke Dahn.

In addition to its regular season, SOLI is cooperating with Texas Public Radio to host an Open Mic Night at Jazz, TX on Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. On March 25, 2018, the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio and mezzo soprano Tynan Davis will join SOLI for a repeat performance of Ballads of the Borderland, written by locally based composer Ethan Wickman.

Tuesday Musical Club  

Christine Lamprea and Daniel Anastasio.
Christine Lamprea and Daniel Anastasio. Credit: Courtesy Tuesday Musical Club.

While anyone entering Brackenridge Park from Mulberry Avenue has passed the Tuesday Music Club – located in a white building next to the Sunken Gardens – most likely don’t know it is the oldest women’s music club in Texas. Its founder, Anna Goodman Hertzberg, was a New Yorker starved for culture on the frontier who created the club in 1901. Mandatory auditions are no longer the rule and its annual Musical Teas continue now as the Artist Series.

The club’s 95th season will begin Oct. 10 as a homecoming for two acclaimed San Antonio musicians, cellist Christine Lamprea and concert pianist Daniel Anastasio. Lamprea started playing cello in fifth grade in San Antonio. She was a member of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (YOSA) and studied with San Antonio Symphony principal cellist Kenneth Freudigman. After graduating from the Texas Military Institute, she studied at The Juilliard School, then earned a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory. She has appeared as a soloist with the San Antonio Symphony and the orchestras of Houston, New Jersey, and Detroit and at Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center.

Anastasio also joined YOSA and was a student leader of the Tuesday Musical Club Juniors. He won the Club’s Bowman Award and the San Antonio Symphony’s “Future Stars” competition. After earning a B.A. in music and philosophy at Cornell University, he received a master’s of music at Juilliard and is completing a Doctor of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University. Anastasio and his wife direct BLUEPRINTS, an eclectic concert series in Manhattan, which presents pianists from different genres in concerts combining classical music and contemporary works, including jazz and free improvisation.

The Tuesday Musical Club season will continue with three concerts in 2018: the Cantus vocal ensemble on Jan. 23, Grammy Award-winning organist Nathan Laube on Feb. 13, and pianist Martina Filjak – whose playing the New York Times called “brilliant, sensitive, and imaginative” – will perform on April 10.

Concerts take place at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church at 2 p.m., save for the Feb. 13 organ concert, which will be at Trinity University’s Parker Chapel at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, call (210) 279-1118 or click here. 

Nancy Cook-Monroe is a local freelance writer and public relations consultant. She has written about San Antonio arts and civic scenes since she could hold a pencil.