Fire and Blood: Detroit, Diego Rivera, and Vodka

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also 139315-7 & 112945 & 47), Rivera, Diego (1886-1957) / Detroit Institute of Arts, USA / Gift of Edsel B. Ford / The Bridgeman Art Library

also 139315-7 & 112945 & 47), Rivera, Diego (1886-1957) / Detroit Institute of Arts, USA / Gift of Edsel B. Ford / The Bridgeman Art Library

Robert RivardWhat do Diego Rivera, Detroit, the violin and vodka share in common? It’s complicated, but it makes San Antonio after dark, Saturday, March 9, a whole lot more interesting.

Put another way, for young San Antonio professionals who want to experience classical music and an after-party in a bold new way, get your tickets now for a very unconventional experience with the San Antonio Symphony.

It’s all about Club Coda, a new downtown cultural organization for young professionals who want classical music served up in a more social and contemporary way. How new? This is the club’s first event.

David Filner

SA Symphony Interim President/CEO David Filner. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

“The Symphony is excited about our first Club Coda event for young professionals,” said David Filner, the interim president and CEO. “We feel that it is critical to find new and innovative ways to invite as many people as possible in our community to experience the great music of the Symphony.  We believe that by expanding a simple Symphony concert into an evening length social event complete with interesting people, delicious food and drinks, and incredible music, Club Coda audiences will have a very unique and enjoyable experience that will make them want to come back for more. “

The audience will be treated to a modern concerto, Fire and Blood, composed by Michael Daugherty, a celebrated American composer born in 1954 who is strongly influenced by the pop culture references of his generation. His music is bold, colorful, and dramatic. Fire and Blood, a concerto for violin and orchestra, is only a decade old, first performed in 2003 by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

 

Sebastian Lang-Lessing

Sebastian Lang-Lessing. Photo courtesy of the SA Symphony.

“Michael Daugherty’s Fire and Blood is an incredibly interesting work by one of America’s greatest living composers,” said SA Symphony conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing. “I think that our audiences will enjoy this amazing piece, especially on a program that also features selections from Wagner’s The Ring.”

For Millennials and others living in San Antonio who have not yet experienced an evening in the Majestic Theater with Lang-Lessing conducting,  this alone is worth the price of admission.

Alexandre Da Costa, the young Montreal-born violinist, will be the evening’s soloist. The 31-year-old virtuoso, with his shock of brown hair, hip elegance, and sensuous playing style, should make classical music even more alluring to the young professionals in the audience. Click on his name (above), sit back, and just listen for a    few minutes.

Daugherty’s work will be paired with the Symphony’s orchestral highlights of 19th century German composer Richard Wagner’s Rings series, music that had an enormous influence on J.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy for those who need another contemporary cultural reference.

The Detroit connection brings us to Mexican artist and muralist Diego Rivera (1886-1957). We’ll get to the vodka next.

Rivera, Mexico’s greatest 20th century artist, enjoyed a long, tumultuous career, one that took the committed Marxist first to Paris, back to Mexico and on to California, New York, and yes, Detroit, where he painted some of his most ambitious murals. His work in the United States in the 1930s was a major influence on the future of American public art and the formation of the Works Projects Administration, the most ambitious program in Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal agency, which employed millions in the Depression on public works projects, many of them public art works. One of those projects was San Antonio’s River Walk.

Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford, commissioned Rivera in 1932 to come to Detroit and paint a series of murals extolling America’s industrial might, notably the automobile manufacturing industry. Rivera spent two years painting murals on the four interior courtyard walls of the Detroit Institute of Art, a work that came to be known as Detroit Industry.

(Click photo for enlarged image.) North wall of a mural depicting Detroit Industry, 1932-33 (fresco) (see also 139315-7 & 112945 & 47), Rivera, Diego (1886-1957) / Detroit Institute of Arts, USA / Gift of Edsel B. Ford / The Bridgeman Art Library

(Click photo for large, high-resolution image – trust me, it’s worth it.) North wall of Diego Rivera’s mural depicting Detroit Industry, 1932-33 (fresco) (see also 139315-7 & 112945 & 47). Rivera, Diego (1886-1957) / Detroit Institute of Arts, USA / Gift of Edsel B. Ford / The Bridgeman Art Library

According to the Boosey & Hawkes webpage, “It was Rivera himself who predicted the possibility of turning his murals into music, after returning from a tour of the Ford factories: ‘In my ears, I heard the wonderful symphony which came from his factories where metals were shaped into tools for men’s service. It was a new music, waiting for the composer … to give it communicable form.’ ”

Nearly three-quarters of a century later, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra commissioned Daugherty to do just that, with the work making its debit in the Motor City in 2003. Now, 10 years later, San Antonio will be introduced to the concerto that traces Rivera’s rather volcanic life from Mexico to Detroit.

The Fire and Blood concerto, only 25 minutes long, is divided into three movements: Volcano, River Rouge and Assembly Line, giving us fire, blood and the cacophony of factory life.

After the concerto, patrons will cross Houston Street to Bromley Communications to mingle for two full hours with Maestro Lang-Lessing, Da Costa, and other symphony musicians while enjoying hors d’ourves from Bohanan’s and vodka cocktails courtesy of Cinco Vodka. Fortunately for Symphony lovers, Ernesto Bromley, the agency’s namesake jefe, is a Symphony supporter and board member.

Tickets are $50, which covers the concerto and the party. So, slip into a black dress, or the male equivalent, and come experience great classical music up close and personal. Symphony patrons who take their concertos straight up can skip the vodka party and attend the same concert Friday, March 8. Tickets range from $20-80.

Full disclosure: The Arsenal Group performs communications consulting services for the San Antonio Symphony, but does not publish any sponsored stories on the Rivard Report site.

 Follow Robert Rivard on Twitter @rivardreport or on Facebook.

 Related Stories on the Rivard Report:

Kirill Gerstein and Brent Watkins: Two venues. Two styles. Two masters. February 2013

After Beethoven, now Brahms: A Festival of Discovery January 2013

A Symphony of Songs for the Homeless at the Haven for Hope December 2012

Sing for the Cure: San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers Strike Right Chord September 2012

One thought on “Fire and Blood: Detroit, Diego Rivera, and Vodka

  1. Great piece–thanks especially for the background about the Detroit Rivera works (loved being able to see them up close) and the Detroit connection. Houston Grand Opera is embarking on the Ring operas starting in April/May of this year so it will be good to hear Wagner highlights in March.
    Would it not be ever so cool if the symphony were able to go to the Toyota plant and perform the Fire and Blood concerto there?
    I think there is interest among millenials and many new to San Antonio about opportunities to hear classical music live, but it is challenging to find out about the many opportunities.

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