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The Newsletter of Musical Offerings

Jazz Meets ClassicalTM XIV— the music of Dave Brubeck and his mentor Darius Milhaud

by James Scott Balentine

Jazz Meets Classical XIV was in spectacular form in its presentation at the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) and the Witte Museum on April 10 and 11th, 2006. Featuring the music of composer and pianist Dave Brubeck, the concert was cleverly tied into the 25th anniversary of the San Antonio Museum of Art and the 250th anniversary of Mozart.

Leader of one of jazz’s most popular and influential quartets, Dave Brubeck was one of a growing number of jazz pianists who sought classical training in composition, and helped create a more refined, sophisticated music that embodied the best of both worlds. Together with saxophonist Paul Desmond, the quartet created a body of jazz standards that remains on the must-know list for jazz musicians still today, including Take Five, Blue Rondo a la Turk, In your Own Sweet Way, and Unsquare Dance.

The music of Brubeck’s teacher and mentor, Darius Milhaud, was also featured on the concert with performances of his Saudades do Brasil by soloists Joan Christenson, David Mollenauer, and Matthew Diekman, with superb guest pianist Jay Flippin, a Kentucky professor-jazzman who was recently honored as the 2006 Kentucky Artist of the Year. Saxophonist Bill King and Jay Flippin presented a dazzling performance of Milhaud’s Scaramouche, one of the most often performed solo works for alto saxophone.

Jazz Meets Classical members
Jazz Meets Classical ensemble at the San Antonio Museum of Art.
L to R; Joan Christenson, violin; Matthew Diekman, viola; Jay Flippin, piano;
David Mollenauer, cello; Darrel Tidaback, bass; Stephen Girko, clarinet;
Curtis Calderon, trumpet, flugelhorn; Kyle Keener, drums; Bill King, saxophone;
Matthew Dunne, guitar

Dave Brubeck often ventured deeply into his classical background, composing music for choral and orchestral performance, including oratorios, cantatas, sacred music as well as secular, and incorporating jazz elements of improvisation and swing in interesting and innovative ways. A recent work (2001) for string orchestra entitled Regret, adapted for string quartet and clarinet for this concert, revealed a mature and skillful artist as completely at home in this medium as he was with the blues fifty years earlier. Sharing the classical composing spotlight was San Antonio composer James Scott Balentine, whose Homage a Dave was commissioned by Musical Offerings for this program.

All of the music for this event was inventively arranged for Musical Offerings by guitarist Matt Dunne, bassist Darrel Tidaback, and pianist Jay Flippin. As with all Jazz Meets Classical concerts, skillful and inspired improvisation was plentiful, with special kudos to clarinetist Steve Girko, and guest trumpeter Curtis Calderon. A surprise and extra special treat to close the program had drummer and vocalist Kyle Keener singing Brubeck’s biggest hit, Take Five, to a wildly enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

The concerts were presented to standing room only audiences both nights and the SAMA and the Witte Museum contributed to the funding of the events. The appearances of the musicians and arrangers for both concerts were made possible by a generous grant from the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts. Thank you RHR Fund for your continued support of Jazz Meets Classical. For the audience and performers alike, a good time was had by all!

2005-2006 Musical Offerings Season Review

Third Guerra Library Concert in 2005

by Michael Gast

Michael Gast Hose-a-phone
Michael Gast (right) demonstrates a homemade hose-a-phone

Musical Offerings was chosen to present three concerts in 2005 in conjunction with the first anniversary of the new Henry A. Guerra, Jr. Public Library branch at 7978 Military Drive West. The first two events were presented in April 2005; Taste of Tango and a miniature version of Jazz Meets Classical.

In November, 2005, Artist Director, Joan Christenson, and board member Michael Gast gave a lecture-demonstration that explored the physics of sound and how musical instruments work. The history of string and brass instruments were explored in an entertaining and informative manner to a rapt audience in the lecture hall at Guerra Public Library. Joan and Michael took turns playing a variety of familiar and improvised instruments that the audience could make at home. The attendees also participated in accompanying the duo with polyrhythmic hand clapping, and had the opportunity to ask a variety of questions at the end of the program.

Working with MO to present these concerts was Barbara Celitans, San Antonio Public Library Program Manager and Heidi Hoecker, San Antonio Public Service Manager of the Guerra Library. The concerts are made possible by Councilman Enrique M. Barrera from District 6 who allocated Human Development Services Funds for special programs at Guerra. Mrs. Celitans said that Musical Offerings was chosen to present the concerts because of their broad versatility of concert formats. All concerts were free of charge to the public.

Horn Trio Picture
Horn Trio Heaven ensemble at Christ Episcopal Church
L to R: Joan Christenson, violin; Carolyn True, piano;
Michael Gast, horn

Horn Trio Heaven

On November 8, 2005, Joan Christenson, Michael Gast and Carolyn True ascended to horn trio heaven. There, in a church with beautiful stained-glass windows, they performed the most splendid, glorious music: the Johannes Brahms Horn Trio, the Jean-Marie Leclair Sonata for Violin and Piano in D major, the Gilbert Vinter Hunter Moon for Horn and Piano, the Reinhold Gličre Nocturne and Intermezzo for Horn and Piano, and the Kerry Turner Quarter-After-Four for Horn, Violin, and Piano. They had awaited this heavenly reunion since 1996 and alas they found themselves on cloud nine. It was the fulfillment of a wonderful dream and they vowed to return to horn trio heaven in the future!

Taste of Tango, Hot, Hot, Hot!!!

Taste of Tango members
Taste of Tango ensemble at the Instituto de Mexico
L to R: Joan Christenson, violin; Christine Debus, piano;
Josue Vasquez-Garcia; Loreen Alvariz, Matthew Dunne,
Mark Rubinstein. Photo by William D’Amato

Certain activities cannot be performed alone–such as quarreling, singing a duet, and dancing the tango. Musical Offerings presented two sensational Taste of Tango concerts in 2005-2006; at Texas Lutheran University, in September 2005, and at the Instituto de Mexico in February 2006. Performers were Mark Rubinstein, accordion; Joan Christenson, violin; Christine Debus, piano; and Matthew Dunne, bass.

This is the fourth presentation of classic and modern tangos by this improvisatory group in conjunction with expert tango dancers and teachers, Loreen Alvarez and Josue Vasquez-Garcia of Puro Tango de San Antonio. Before the Texas Lutheran University concert, Loreen and Josue instructed students in the sensual ballroom dance that originated in Argentina. During the Instituto performance, Puro Tango members & aficionados presented Tango art creations in any media form.

Photo by William D'Amato

MO news is good news.....message from the Artistic Director

Joan Christenson
Joan Christenson

A warm welcome to Musical Offerings’ second newsletter! We have just wrapped up a twenty-second season of concerts, including Taste of Tango, Horn Trio Heaven and the best Jazz Meets Classical ever. As I look back on this season, which included a Texas premier, a newly commissioned work, and the celebration of two anniversaries, what stands out for me is the high level of musicianship in this city and the wonderful musicians who have collaborated with me on these first-rate concerts.

The 2006-2007 season will continue with the same innovative programming that has defined Musical Offerings through the years. Our ability to present unique collaborations creates a special niche for us in San Antonio. We’ll be acquiring a new logo, so check out our upcoming face-lift, as well as fresh photographs of the Jazz Meets Classical ensemble.

Please enjoy the newsletter. We invite you to familiarize yourself with Musical Offerings, to attend our concerts and to share in our versatile programming and creative collaborations.

Why should you support Musical Offerings?

Did you know that Musical Offerings has sponsored the following events:

And participated in the following events; Chamber music concerts in conjunction with:

How Can I Help?

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San Antonio, Texas 78209

Newsletter name by Eric Brahinsky.