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News and notes from San Antonio's other music scene

Defining contemporary classical music can be a sticky business. With popular culture and musical forms filtering in through the experience and musical vocabulary of composers and performers, the lines of stylistic distinction often become blurry. When the relative values of live performance and recorded products are called into question, it gets even more complicated.

Modern technology allows composers the freedom to create entire works digitally, sampling instrumental tones and qualities, combining them with electronic and found sounds, controlling all the basic elements of composition, performance, and recorded product. Add to that the ability to incorporate digital images and you have a whole new set of aesthetic possibilities and dilemmas. Which takes precedence, the image or the music? Should the two elements be subjected to the same artistic scrutiny, or do we let a composer slack on visual integrity? How does one control image or sound quality, or does one even try? If you remove the live musicians, do you still have a concert? How does one "perform" pre-recorded music in a concert setting?

On November 1, the UTSA Music Department New Music Series will present several works for video and electronic music by composers highly regarded in both musical and experimental media circles, including Dennis Miller's Cross Contours, featuring the composer's original music and computer-generated imagery. The performance also will feature three collaborative pieces by composer Allan Schindler and filmmaker Stephanie Maxwell, David Ogborn's The City is Burning for horn and electronic music, as well as other works for live musicians. It will be interesting to see how all the elements come together. Call 458-5685 for more info.

For a more conventional concert setting of equally new music, the Composers' Alliance of San Antonio presents works by local composers David Heuser, Beth May, Michael Twomey, Misook Kim, Elisenda Fábregas, William Ross, and Ken Metz on Saturday, November 12. Call 999-8261 for info.

Camerata San Antonio will open its season on October 16 with more traditional fare: Schubert, Beethoven, and Brahms. Our Lady of the Lake University will present a performance of Beethoven Piano Sonatas on October 22; the Chamber Music Society will host the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble on October 23; and Musical Bridges will continue its season-long tribute to Mozart on November 13 with the short comic opera The Impressario, the Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, and Mozart a la Jazz featuring the prodigious improvisational talent of pianist Valeri Grohovski with Hamilton Price on bass and Gerry Gibbs on percussion.

- Diana Lyn Roberts


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