The Arts

June 6, 2012

Embracing the Fine Arts of the Rio Grande Valley


One of the things that always preoccupied me as a destination management professional, were the negative perceptions about our area and the people of the Rio Grande Valley. Some believe we all dress in cowboy attire, while others believe we only speak Spanish. Worse yet, the perception out there is that we are not a safe place, and that we are not very cultured, especially in the field of Fine Arts.

Nothing can be further from the truth, and CODA, The Final Concert, held at the University of Texas Pan American this past Sunday, June 3rd, is concrete proof that we are an arts-rich community. UTPA organized this concert as a farewell to their Fine Arts building which is closing its doors forever. The new Performing Arts Center will, according to UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen, impact generations to come and guarantee a vibrant and culturally-rich future for our region.

About 900 people  attended this free concert, and enjoyed a medley of live and previously videotaped performances. The program began with a piano performance by John Raimo, UTPA faculty Emeritus, accompanied by Dahlia Guerra, Dean, College of Arts and Humanities.   Marian Monta, Founder, UTPA Theater, addressed the audience with a trip down memory lane. She recalled the time when she first came to UTPA, her experiences, and all the theater performances UTPA students have produced. She mentioned Valente Rodriguez, now a well-known Hollywood actor and UTPA Alumni, and his work every summer when he visits and motivates UTPA students to succeed.

Via videotape, the Valley Symphony Orchestra, conducted by maestro Peter Dabrowski, entertained the crowd. Classical music performances by Carl Seale, Faculty Emeritus, Linda Musollari, Soprano, UTPA Alumna, and son Laert accompanied by Quartetto Bravura, highlighted the event. The Harmonious Blacksmithby Handel/ Forbes was performed by the RGV Tuba Euphonium Quartet among other classical selections.

The feature photograph for this article was taken during the performance of Passacaglia by Handel/Halvorse & Preludium and Allegro by F. Fisher, by Daniel Andai, violin, Marialice Shary Shrivers Endowed Chair in Fine Arts, with Joel Pagan, viola, and Brendan Kinsella, piano. Both Joel and Brendan are UTPA Assistant Professors.

No UTPA concert would be complete without dance performances. The CODA concert had a couple of great dance performances; first was the UTPA Ballet Folklorico performing traditional dances from the state of Yucatan, Mexico, followed by the UTPA Modern Dance Company performing Sleeping Beauty, Blue Bird Variations.  A spectacular closing performance by UTPA Mariachi Aztlan which included El Son de la Negra; Mariachi Aztlan has performed for President Obama. It has also been awarded multiple recognitions, and will be participating in the Smithsonian Folkloric Festival this month, representing the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Heart felt closing remarks by UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen, motivated the crowd to continue supporting the performing arts and artists of the valley. “The Arts make us human,” he said. I could not agree more. The Valley is a kaleidoscope of talent and culture, and is one of the fastest growing areas in the county. The arts are not only present in the Rio Grande Valley, they are thriving!

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About the Author

Nydia O
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou. La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley. From this bi-cultural corner on the tip of Texas, I share my poems and my spiritual and travel experiences. I also blog about the arts, nature and my passion for historic preservation and architecture. But most importantly, let's talk about "la vida" - living our lives - in a vacation state of mind. Contributions and comments are always welcome .


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