Edmar Castaneda, a Colombian harp player, performs at the 2015 International Music Festival. Photo by Scott Ball.

Musical Bridges Around the World has made connecting the world through the performing arts their mission. The local nonprofit’s third annual International Music Festival is the epitome of this mission and begins on Friday, Feb. 12 with performances running through Sunday, Feb. 21.

Musical Bridges Artistic Director and CEO Anya Grokhovski said the festival will feature hand-picked musicians from all over the world.

“I searched for musicians everywhere,” she said. “The artists we use are world class and some of the best from around the globe.”

A dancer performs at the 2015 International Music Festival. Photo by Scott Ball.
A dancer performs at the 2015 International Music Festival. Photo by Scott Ball.

This year’s programming features five distinct cultural shows with musical styles ranging from jazz to world music. Each show will portray cultural and musical collaborations of artists from diverse backgrounds.

All shows are free and open to the public on a first come, first serve basis.

Reserved seating for all five festival concerts is available with a $50 donation which makes you an official International Music Festival member. All $50 donations include an invitation to the festival’s closing reception on Feb. 21 that will have wine and hors d’oeuvres. To sign up for a festival membership, click here.

Musical Bridges Director of Development and Marketing Suhail Arastu said the organization was inspired by a statistic stating that less than 46% of Americans are passport holders. He saw this as an opportunity to help bring global culture to the states, starting with San Antonio, to encourage the public to embrace the global community.

“Most of what people know about the outside world is through news media … that usually tends to focus on conflicts,” he said. “(The festival) is about highlighting the creativity and artistry of conflict-ridden zones in the context of the performing arts.”

The first Musical Bridges International Music Festival featured a performance by an Israeli-Palestinian piano duo, he added.

“The concept is uniting people one concert at a time,” he said.

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The organization offers free multicultural dance and musical performances throughout the year in an effort to bring world-class artistry to San Antonio residents. Below is the complete list of shows and descriptions for the 2016 International Music Festival:

Jazz Invocation

Friday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity University’s Laurie Auditorium, 1 Trinity Place

The festival kicks off with an American jazz performance by jazz giant Charles Lloyd. Lloyd received the National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Honor as a 2015 Jazz Master and is a saxophonist, flutist, composer and arranger. He will be joined by contemporary guitarist and film composer Bill Frisell, Grammy-nominated drummer Eric Harland, Grammy-award-winning guitarist Greg Leisz, and bassist Reuben Rogers who has played with world-renowned jazz artists.

Persion Impressions 

Saturday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Empire Theatre, 226 N. St. Mary’s Street

This culturally-exotic program will feature music by members of the Silk Road Ensemble, a multicultural performing arts group spearheaded by the great cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Performers include Indian tablaist Sandeep Das, Iranian kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor, and American cellist Michael Block who will supply a musical fusion representing each of their cultural backgrounds.

“L’histoire du Soldat”  

Sunday, Feb. 14 at 3 p.m. at the Carver Cultural Center, 226 N. Hackberry

The “Valentine’s Day show”, as Grokhovski called it, will be a theatrical presentation and include a specially-choreographed ballet performance of Stravinsky’s “L’histoire du Soldat” by the Avant Chamber Ballet Dallas. The ballet will feature a musical collaboration of pianist Baya Kakouberi, internationally-acclaimed soloist, chamber musician, and clarinetist Julian Milkis, and violinist Gary Levinson, senior principal associate concertmaster of The Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The latter part of the show will include a solo performance by Puerto-Rican soprano Carelle Flores.

“Singing Strings”  

Saturday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Motherhouse Chapel of the Incarnate Word, 4503 Broadway St.

Cellist Boris Andrianov and guitarist Dmitri Illarionov will make a special trip from Moscow to take the stage at the Motherhouse Chapel for “Singing Strings,” Grokhovski said. The award-winning Russian musicians will have both solo and joint-performances, and will also be joined by Puerto-Rican Soprano soloist Carelle Flores who will offer her unique vocal talent to the night’s programming.

“Souvenir de la Russie” 

Sunday, Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. at San Antonio College’s McAllister Auditorium, San Pedro Avenue & West Courtland Place

Russian dance ensemble Barynya will join concert duo AleAnya and Flying Balalaika Brothers in a collaboration of dance and music. Brynya is choreographing a new ballet for the occasion, Grokhovski said, which will involve them dancing around two pianists. The night will feature traditional world music, Russian and Ukrainian folk dances, and original Russian-infused musical pieces.

*Top image: Edmar Castaneda, a Colombian harp player, performs at the 2015 International Music Festival. Photo by Scott Ball.

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Camille Garcia is a journalist born and raised in San Antonio. She formerly worked at the San Antonio Report as assistant editor and reporter. Her email is camillenicgarcia@gmail.com