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Arts Classical attitude


News and notes from San Antonio’s other music scene

In music schools and concert halls, hundreds of performances take place every day. Skills are honed through rigorous practice, interpretive nuance through thoughtful engagement with the music. Yet there is another quality that clearly defines a successful performer: stage presence.

Some come by it naturally, others cultivate it. Sure, a handful of performers command enough attention through sheer virtuosity that it doesn’t matter how they present themselves — say Itzak Perelman, or Pinchas Zukerman, who recently performed with the Symphony as both soloist and conductor. For others, an utter lack of presence undermines their talent. It’s like a dinner party where one person is charming no matter how mundane the conversation, and another practically non-existent regardless of their insight or erudition.

Stage presence comes in many styles: graceful, exuberant, or suave and self-possessed, like Leonard Bernstein. One engages audiences with sheer assertive intensity, another’s easy manner reinforces his grasp of the art. Sex appeal certainly has its place: Franz Liszt sent polite 19th-century ladies into passionate swoons with his intense Hungarian charm and keyboard acrobatics. Cellist Amanda Forsythe, on tour with Zukerman, exudes a palpable sexuality the moment she hits the stage, and backs it up with trenchant, passionate nuance in her playing.

Whatever form it takes, stage presence adds a crucial element to the audience’s willingness to go down a given musical road. Music is an interpretive, subjective art. Discerning audiences want to know their guide has something to offer. Contemporary or traditional, whimsical or brooding, musical interpretation requires self-awareness. Here are a few upcoming performance styles to observe:

For crossover electro-acoustic improvisation, check out APPARATII March 8 at Our Lady of the Lake University, featuring PseudoBuddha’s Bobdog Catlin and James Cobb, plus John Cortez, James Sidlo, and film artist Kevin Cacy. Free; call 434-6711, Ext. 8137. For black-tie-and-tails flair, world-renowned pianist Andre Watts performs the “Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra” with the San Antonio Symphony March 10-11; call 554-1010. On March 19, the new San Antonio Chamber Choir covers a range of styles, juxtaposing 16th- and 17th-century motets with Brahms’ “Motet, Op. 29, No. 2,” Morten Lauridsen’s “Four Madrigals on Renaissance Texts,” and American Folk Hymns. More info at

For chamber-music chic, the highly acclaimed Brentano Quartet performs works by Schubert, Shostakovich, and Beethoven March 26 for the San Antonio Chamber Music Society. Call 408-1558 or visit For a dose of the sexy-girl-group phenomenon, and excellent musicianship to boot, the Eroica Trio performs for the Tuesday Musical Club on April 4. Call 344-5929 or visit

And, to top off our tour of performance styles, the UTSA Monday Night Artist Series hosts the University of North Texas African Percussion Ensemble on March 20. Call 458-4354

Diana Roberts

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