Musical Bridges Around the World Introduces Audiences to Cultures Across the Globe.
Arts nonprofit offers 7 key programs from Musical Evenings at San Fernando Cathedral to Kids to Concerts
By Rudy Arispe
What started 24 years ago with a small gathering of fellow music lovers who enjoyed hosting private concerts at each other’s homes with good food and drink has flourished into one of San Antonio’s major arts organizations known as Musical Bridges Around the World (MBAW).
Today, MBAW transforms lives through multicultural performing and visual arts by shattering barriers, creating connectivity and inspiring hope for those with the least access. Its public programs, such as the Russell Hill Rogers Musical Evenings at San Fernando Cathedral and Kids to Concerts, among others, reached more than 25,500 people last season free of charge.
Recently, MBAW received a $200,000 grant from The Ford Foundation to support the organization’s music programs that benefit seniors, adult and children’s audiences alike.
“We are so grateful for the generous support of The Ford Foundation for this substantial gift that will allow Musical Bridges Around the World to offer important programming at no cost to the public,” said Anya Grokhovski, MBAW artistic director & CEO. “This grant helps us to continue to introduce San Antonians and visitors to cultures around the world.”
Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., chair of The Ford Foundation Board of Trustees, said he has been impressed for years by the level of MBAW’s operations and programming, including the annual International Music Festival and, most recently, the 2020 Gurwitz International Piano Competition.
Additionally, MBAW serves the public and disadvantaged communities, while fostering San Antonio’s reputation as a cosmopolitan cultural center and promoting tourism, Grokhovski explained. Seven core programs take the community on exhilarating musical experiences including:
- Russell Hill Rogers Musical Evenings at San Fernando Cathedral: Free public concert series held on select Sunday evenings in the heart of historic downtown.
- Kids to Concerts: Educational concert program that introduces children grades K-12 in Title 1 schools to cultures from around the world through music and dance.
- Musical Sprouts: Innovative educational program measuring the impact of arts-enhanced learning through STEAM (STEM + Art = STEAM) curricula in partnership with the University of Texas.
- Golden Age: Provides outstanding musical performances to seniors 60+, many of whom suffer from neurological disorders, including dementia.
- International Music Festival: Annual multi-week and multi-venue performance series featuring world-class artists in thought-provoking pairings designed to challenge mass media stereotypes that are too often the only exposure people have to foreign lands.
- The Gurwitz International Piano Competition: In 2017, MBAW absorbed San Antonio’s International Piano Competition. The 2020 competition was the first under MBAW’s direction with both in-person attendees and livestream audiences from 48 United States and 25 countries.
- MBAW Art Gallery: Presents new exhibits of local and international artists quarterly and participates in city-wide art events including FotoSeptiembre and Contemporary Arts Month.
Grokhovski said MBAW’s mission addresses multiple needs including fulfilling a lack of high- quality performing arts free to the public; the need to improve learning outcomes for underprivileged youth; the need for safe, accessible and recreational activities with proven mental health benefits for seniors; and the need to represent the full diversity of the city.
MBAW presents its final concert of the 2020-21 season, ”Through a Child’s Eyes,” at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 6. It celebrates the achievements of MBAW’s two educational programs – Kids to Concerts and Musical Sprouts – and their impact on children as they journeyed to Russia, Japan, Spain and San Antonio’s Sister Cities around the globe. The concert will also feature brand new piano performances by The Gurwitz Ambassadors filmed at San Fernando Cathedral, as well as other highlights from this season’s virtual performances. For more information, www.mbaw.org.