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The Newsletter of Musical Offerings

Jazz Meets Classical XV Again Plays to a Draw

The Music of Brazil and the Music of Latin America

by Guildhian Pennyweather

Musical Offerings’ Jazz Meets Classical celebrated its fifteenth year with three concerts and two unique programs, presenting music inspired by Brazilian and Latin American composers, dances and popular songs, and two world premiere performances by composers Matthew Dunne and James Scott Balentine.

The Music of Brazil opened to a very enthusiastic standing-room-only audience at the Instituto de México on March 31, the first half featuring the famous Bachianas Brasilieras #5 of Heitor Villa-Lobos, with soprano Linda Poetschke. A relatively recent work by Brazilian guitarist and composer Sérgio Assad featured the refined and energetic playing of clarinetist Stephen Girko, flutist Tal Perkes, guitarist Matt Dunne, pianist Mark Rubinstein, and violinist, Joan Christenson.

Closing the first half was the premiere performance of Esferas da Vida, a new work by San Antonio composer, and Jazz Meets Classical regular, James Scott Balentine. This work was created with the support of an award from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, in collaboration with Musical Offerings for this performance. The Artist Foundation, created in 2006 by visionary artists Bettie Ward and Patricia Pratchett, envisions San Antonio as a community where artists help shape the identity of our area and are recognized as part of the cultural economy. Esferas da Vida was conceived as a concertino for soloists Michael Gast, horn, and guitarist Matthew Dunne, along with strings, including Jeannine Fancher on viola, and a rhythm section of piano, Mark Rubinstein; bass, Zlatan Redzic; and percussion, Kyle Keener.

Jazz Meets Classical members
Jazz Meets Classical core ensemble. L to R; Matthew Dunne, guitar; Jeannine Fancher,
viola; Stephen Girko, clarinet; Darrel Tidaback, bass; Joan Christenson, violin; Mark
Rubinstein, piano; James Scott Balentine, saxophone. Photo by Susan Riley.

The second part of the program opened with Matthew Dunne’s Cafezinho, a quartet originally conceived for the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, and adapted for this concert by the composer. It was the perfect piece to bridge the decreasing gap between classical techniques and jazz, incorporating a samba feel with classical compositional techniques, and including beautiful melodies and harmonies idiomatic of Brazilian jazz and popular music. The remainder of the program relaxed into several well-known bossa novas, arranged by talented long- time JMC bassist Darrel Tidaback, featuring jazz vocalist Joan Carroll . The program, which repeated at the Witte Museum several days later on April 3, garnered a standing ovation and enthusiastic praise from the audience.

For the first time in its 15 year history, Jazz Meets Classical presented a separate program at the San Antonio Museum of Art, to support and enhance the Latin American gallery. The program, The Music of Latin America, included music of Cuban clarinetist, saxophonist and composer Paquito d’Rivera, Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, and Carinhoso by Pixinguinha, stunningly played by David Mollenauer.

The Instituto, the SAMA, and the Witte significantly contributed to the funding of the concerts. Through a generous grant, the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts underwrote the fees for Joan Christenson and arranger Darrel Tidaback at SAMA, and musician and arranger fees at the Witte. Thank you RHR Fund, SAMA, and the Witte Museum for your continued support of Jazz Meets Classical.

The Jazz Meets Classical Series continues to attract sell-out crowds and an enthusiastic following, and this year proved to be one of the best ever. See you next year at JMC XVI!

2006-2007 Musical Offerings Season Review

Blurring the Lines Photo
L to R: Jean Robinson, Elain Barber, Joan Christenson and Matthew Diekman
stand in front of At the Concert by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Photo by Mimi Quintanilla.

Blurring the Lines Makes Big Impression

by Matthew Diekman

On December 4, 2006, Musical Offerings presented Blurring the Lines: French Impressionist Music at the San Antonio Museum of Art, performed in conjunction with the San Antonio Museum of Art’s special exhibition Collecting the Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

Almost all compositions included the harp, a prominent instrument in the Impressionist era. Claude Debussy’s Trio for flute, viola and harp, and Ravel’s charming Sonatine featured flutist Jean Robinson, violist Matthew Diekman and harpist Elaine Barber. Violinist Joan Christenson joined the group for Debussy’s Serenade of the Doll and the humorous Golliwog’s Cakewalk.

Ms. Robinson opened the concert with an off-stage performance of Debussy’s beautiful and eerie Syrinx, which was even more inspiring given the Gallery’s Impressionist masterpieces that surrounded the event. Also on the program were: Ibert’s Deux Interludes for violin, harp and flute, Ibert’s Entre’Acte for violin and harp, and Ravel’s Pièce en forme de Habanera for flute and harp. Between the music and the art, the event was truly “illuminating.”

Michael Gast Picture
Christine Debus, piano; Michael Gast, horn, perform
at the San Antonio Museum of Art.
Photo by Chris Christenson

Horn player tells it like it was…

Minnesota Orchestra Principal Hornist, Michael Gast, presented a lecture- demonstration entitled Hunting Horn: From the Forest to Carnegie Hall at the San Antonio Museum of Art February 19, 2007. The multi-media event was programmed to enhance SAMA’s special exhibition, A Noble Pastime: Hunting Pictures from the Collection of the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation. Gast gave a simple, yet entertaining history of the horn’s journey from the hunting parties of the 17th century French courts to its inclusion in the modern symphony orchestra. Attendees were treated to sound recordings of French Cor-de-Chasse ensembles, and the Hunt Symphony of Leopold Mozart, which featured hunting horns and dogs barking at specifically cued moments.

Pianist Christine Debus joined Michael in concert presentations of several virtuostic contest pieces for horn from the French Conservatory. Gast’s intention was to plant the sound of the instruments in the listeners’ minds while they viewed the art collection. The event culminated with a question and answer session, and a spirited account of Paul Dukas’ demanding contest piece Villanelle.

Chansons D’amour

by Owen Duggan

Chansons D’amour members
L to R: Matthew Dunne, guitar; Jaon Christenson, violin;
Faith Debow, piano; Gail Wettstein, soprano; Owen Duggan, baritone.
Photo by Chris Christenson

On February 13, 2007, Valentine’s Eve, the Musical Offerings audience was treated to Music of the Night, a recital of songs of nighttime and romance. Special guests Gail Wettstein, soprano; Owen Duggan, baritone; Matthew Dunne, guitarist & Faith Debow, pianist were joined by Joan Christenson to offer up a melodic feast including works by Dowland, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Bizet, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Villa-Lobos and Lloyd Webber.

Special highlights included Joan and Faith’s passionate rendering of Beethoven’s Romance in Fand the premiere of an original adaptation by Owen Duggan of folk melodies from Northumbria and Scotland entitled “ Highland Lullaby,” played by the entire ensemble. The concert closed with “Danny Boy, ” specially arranged with Owen and Gail respectively portraying a father who awaits the return from war of his beloved son. The concert was held in the warm acoustical environment of the newly refurbished Ruth Taylor Hall at Trinity University.

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

Joan Christenson
Joan Christenson

A warm welcome to Musical Offerings’ third newsletter and twenty-third season of spectacular chamber music concerts! Over the past season, we have continued to build upon our successes by presenting first-class chamber music concerts to growing audiences. We have also further developed our website,, and formulated a spiffy new e-newsletter. And Musical Offerings continues to present the premier chamber music event in San Antonio, Jazz Meets Classical, now in its fifteenth season.

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.

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.

What’s up?

Looking forward to

2007-2008 with Musical Offerings

Still in the planning stages, and many dates are TBA, but here are some tidbits...

Taste of Tango
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center

Music to Art concerts at the San Antonio Museum of Art

Jazz Meets Classical XVI
San Antonio Museum of Art
Witte Museum
Instituto de Mexico

Why should you support Musical Offerings?

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

  • Jazz Meets Classical Series at the Witte Museum, the Landing at the Riverwalk, the San Antonio Museum of Art and the McNay Art Museum 1992-2005
  • Taste of Tango at Our Lady of the Lake University 2001, the First Unitarian Universalist Church 2004, Texas Lutheran University 2005, Instituto de Mexico 2006
  • 3 chamber orchestra programs conducted by Christopher Wilkins 1992-95
  • Gallery Concerts Series at the San Antonio Museum of Art 1983-1993

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

  • 25th Anniversary of the San Antonio Museum of Art 2006
  • First anniversary of the Henry A. Guerra Public Library branch 2005
  • Educational Concerts in schools for Class Acts 2002-2003, Campus Concerts sponsored by the San Antonio Symphony League 2004, Guerra Public Library Branch, 2005
  • Opening of the William L. Cowden Gallery and The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art, San Antonio Museum of Art
  • The Southwest Guitar Festival 2000
  • The Virgil Thompson Centennial with the San Antonio Symphony 1997
  • Mexico: 30 Centuries of Splendor Art Exhibit 1991

I would like to support MO with the gift of MOney

Honduras pic
Michael Gast, horn, and Joan Christenson, violin, perform
with neighborhood children and expatriate guitarist, Christopher Goldman,
at fundraiser for local school in Roatan, Honduras
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PO Box 6991
San Antonio, Texas 78209

Newsletter name by Eric Brahinsky.