The Children’s Chorus of San Antonio and Doc Watkins and his Orchestra will share the stage at the Tobin Center for Performing Arts during their performance “Live at the Copa Havana” on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m.
The performance is part of the San Antonio Symphony‘s sixth winter festival Las Américas, and will feature music in Spanish, Portuguese, and Crow, an American-Indian language.
Tickets to the show start at $20 and can be purchased here. Cabaret-style seating will be available.
The show includes a chorus of more than 40 children performing Latin and Afro-Cuban jazz music, and includes three original pieces written by Watkins, San Antonio’s “King of Jazz.”
“(Watkins) is familiar with the organization … so it’s wonderful to collaborate with him in this new way,” said Anne Schelleng, executive director of the Children’s Chorus. “He certainly has a deep knowledge of how our ensembles work and what (the students) are capable of, so he was able to craft something for them that suits their abilities and also stretches them.”
The experience of performing brand new music with a lively Latin orchestra, Schelleng said, is something that will add a special element to the performance.
“It’s a tremendous experience for anybody, especially our young singers, to give life to a new work or a new arrangement,” she said. “It’s going to be a great evening–a lot of high energy, exciting, kind of tap-your-toe and dance-in-your-seat concert.”
Watkins formerly played with the Children’s Chorus as a principal accompanist until he left to pursue a solo career in 2011. Working with the group once again has inspired him to get the word out about the singing talent and culture that is ripe in San Antonio.
“I think it’s important that people are aware of what’s going on in their own backyard, there’s this wonderful, talented children’s chorus,” he said. “I think the pairing with the Symphony and the music of the Americas, that’s something you’re not going to find in other cities.”
The show will be split into thirds, Schelleng said, with the first part being a performance of “music specifically for choral” by the Children’s Chorus, followed by a performance by Watkins and his Latin orchestra. There will also be one solo performance by one of the students in the Children’s Chorus. The night will conclude with a joint-performance by both the Children’s Chorus and Watkins.
The repertoire, Watkins said, is “a special part of the musical and cultural fabric of San Antonio” since the city has long been a hub that perpetuates Latin American culture.
“We’re gonna feature everything from Mexico to Puerto Rico to Cuba to Brazilian bossa novas,” he said. “It’s a great variety of stuff.”
The San Antonio Children’s Chorus features young singers of ages ranging from five to 22, Schelleng said, and is formed by children who represent “over 60 different zip codes in the metropolitan area.” The “Live at the Copa Havana” group includes some of the most advanced middle school and high school students in the Children’s Chorus, she added.
Hannah Jury has been singing in the Children’ Chorus for six years. This sort of cultural performance, she said, is one that is both challenging and inspiring.
“I love the cultural implications that the songs have,” she said. “There are so many different facets in Latin American culture and the songs we’re singing will cover a lot of them. Its really fun to sing them in the style they’re meant to be sung.”
Rebecca Morgan, associate conductor of the Children’s Chorus, said the presence of the Latin orchestra, featuring a vibrant horn section among other instruments, will make the performance unlike any other that they’ve given before.
“I’m most looking forward to seeing the band come to life with the music that we’ve been learning,” she said. “(The children) are excited that it’s going to be a different feel of a concert than we’ve ever given before.”
The Children’s Chorus has been preparing for “Live at the Copa Havana” since early January and though many of the students cite singing in another language as their biggest challenge, Schelleng prefers to look at it with a sense of optimism.
“I don’t look at it as a challenge so much as an opportunity,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for them to explore music that they haven’t necessarily had a good grasp on before.”
The Symphony’s Las Américas festival features musical performances that celebrate the works of composers from North, South, and Central America, and runs from Jan. 5 until May 22. For the festival’s full schedule of events, click here.
*Top image: The Children’s Choir of San Antonio will be performing “Live at the Copa Havana” at the Tobin Center on Tuesday Feb. at 7:30 p.m. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone
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