"Silent World" by Robert Michaelson & Jim Sparkman

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Musical Bridges' Art Gallery hosted its very first photography opening on Friday, August 29th as a part of the city-wide Fotoseptiembre festival.  The opening celebrated "Silent World," the first exhibit of underwater photographers Robert Michaelson & Jim Sparkman.

The exhibit was featured in many publications including the San Antonio Current as "Editor's Pick" and the Rivard Report.  A constant flow of over 100 guests moved throughout the gallery; enjoying photography, wine, hors d'oeuvres, and live jazz by George & Aaron Prado.  

Robert and Jim's work attracted many underwater enthusiasts & divers that came to admire all of the colorful and enchanting photos.  Many of the photos were sold and some even back-ordered because of their popularity.  

Musical Bridges' would like to give a special thanks to Fotoseptiembre Founder Michael Mehl and his wife Ann Kinser for letting us be a part of this year's festival.  

The exhibit at the Musical Bridges' Art Gallery will be available for viewing through October 10th.  To schedule a visit, please call (210) 464-1534.

Pictured above, Jim Sparkman

Photo courtesy of Michael Mehl, Fotoseptiembre USA

Flying Balalaika Brothers Visit 6 San Antonio Retirement Communities

Musical Bridges Around the World (MBAW) completed the second segment of its new retirement community outreach program, Golden Age 2014, funded by the Texas Commission on the Arts.  The Flying Balalaika Brothers visited six different retirement communities on August 21 & 22; Granada Homes, Army Residence Community, Adante Senior Living, Franklin Park Sonterra, Wedgwood Senior Apartments, and Emeritus at Woodbridge Estates.

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The Flying Balalaika Brothers brough their 45 minute program to each of the six retirement communities; world fusion music sprinkled with the glitter of Russian fairy tales.  They performed a variety of pieces and visited with the residents.

A special thanks to the Texas Commission on the Arts, and all of the participating retirement communities for making this concert series a success!

The original Flying Balalaika Brothers were formed in Los Angeles in 1995 by Zhenya Kolykhanov (a.k.a. Z Rock), the former lead guitarist of the Russian surf/rockabilly group Red Elvises.  The group started as a street band and later transformed into the group Red Elvises; which had a large history of performing for clubs, motion pictures, and tv shows in California.  After Zhenya set up shop in Austin, TX, he reestablished The Flying Balalaika Brothers.  The band represents a blend of traditional world music and original musical pieces.  The group has found a home in the musically rich culture in Austin, TX.

MBAW Board Member, Entrepreneur of the Year

Musical Bridges Around the World is extremely proud and excited to announce that Board Member Susan Franklin and her husband Aubra Franklin have been honored as the 2014 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year!  We are so thankful to such a successful Board of Directors as we prepare for our 17th season!

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 From Austin Business Journal, June 6, 2014

By: Colin Pope, Editor

Aubra and Susan Franklin started their entrepreneurial journey in 1995, and since then the Franklin brand based in San Antonio has been a market leader for senior housing.

Aubra Franklin in chairman and CEO of Franklin Companies, a business that takes on development, construction and management capabilities.  He also oversees the Artisan brand of multifamily communities.  The Franklins employs 450 individuals and improve the lives of about 5,000 residents.

What's the best advice you can offer an aspiring entrepreneur?  Susan:  First, you must identify and live into your core values, which should be central to your enterprise.  Aubra and I live by the values of integrity, transparency, and empowerment.  They form the lens through which we evaluate our opportunities, and they are the cornerstone of our success.

Second, you must be constantly moving forward.  Staying idle is not an option.  In the face of uncertainty you cannot be stymied by indecision or doubt.  In the early stages, your fledgling enterprise will derive its lifeblood from your passion and tenacity.  Overcoming the challenges that arise will make you a stronger leader through the life of your company.

Third, surround yourself with people who thoroughly understand you.

What's the secret to your company's success?  Susan:  Our culture.  Franklin Companies is a unique organization made up of over 400 employees, and we consider them all to be an extension of our family.  We take interest in our employees' professional development and personal success and provide an affirming environment where they can flourish.  We are the standard bearers for the culture we want [to spread] across our company.  We know it all starts at the top, and we take that responsibility very seriously.

In regard to your company's culture, what are you most proud of?  Aubra:  I am particularly proud that "empowerment" is not simply a buzzword at Franklin Companies.  Leadership and management approaches that rely on employees to simply "follow" are things of the past.  Today's leaders need to put their people first, translate the corporate vision and empower their people to achieve it by providing hte knowledge, skills, and the opportunity for performance.  Involving others and encouraging them to take ownership instills a sense of pride that can unleash incredible outcomes.

What's the biggest mistake you've made in business, and what did you learn from it?  Aubra:  Allowing functional divisions to operate as independent entities.  As we grew, our primary divisions-development, construction and management-operated within individual silos leaving tremendous economies of scale untapped.  When I realized the synergies available to us through a more integrated approach, I changed the corporate culture to be inclusive of all divisions by re-organizing our structure to capture all divisions under the umbrella of The Franklin Companies.

Tell us about an unexpected obstacle to your company's growth and how you dealt with it.  Aubra:  Like many, the financial collapse of 2008 was certainly an unexpected obstacle for us.  As others were retreating and the lending markets had shut down, we stood firm and set a new vision for senior living in San Antonio.  Franklin Companies moved forward with its flagship project, Franklin Park Sonterra, which was completed as the market corrected.  Sonterra is now 100% occupied and has paved the way for Franklin Park Alamo Heights, which is expected to open in 2015.  I am very proud of the way we stayed focused and navigated those turbulent waters.

New Retirement Community Outreach Program

Duo Aleanya-Retirement2MBAW completed its first segment of a new retirement community outreach program, Golden Age 2014, funded by the Texas Commission on the Arts.  Duo AleAnya visited five different retirement communities on July 14th & 15th;  Wedgewood Luxury Senior Apartments, Golden Estates Rehabilitation Center, Madison Estates, The Towers on Park Lane & Adante Senior Living.  

Duo AleAnya brought their hour-long 4 hands program to each of the five retirement communities.  They performed a variety of pieces including several Tchaikovsky favorites.  Some of the residents were brought to tears of joy as they listened to the Duo's beautiful performance in the comfort their very own community.  

Musical Bridges is excited to be bringing The Flying Balalaikla Brothers to six retirement communities at the end of August as part of this program!  A special thanks to the Texas Commission on the Arts, Golden Manor Jewish Senior Services and Executive Director Daniel Laser for making The Golden Age 2014 concert series possible!

Alena Gorina and Anya Grokhovski (Duo AleAnya) are concert pianists with extensive concert experience as both soloists and chamber musicians who came together to share their love of piano repertory.  Their programming is greatly infludenced by their cultural and educational roots.  Alena was born, raised and educated in Belorussia (a former part of the Soviet Union) and Anya in Moscow, Russia.  Needless to say, Russian music takes a special place in the hearts of Duo AleAnya.  Both Alena and Anya hold Doctoral Degrees in piano performance; Alena from UT Austin and Anya from the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music in Moscow.  Currently Alena is a lecturer at Texas State University, San Marcos and Anya Grokhovski is the Artistic Director of Musical Bridges Around the World.