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Gracias a La Vida! | 8th Annual International Music Festival

23 March 2022 | 7:00 pm

Free & Open to the Public, Tickets Required for Entry


An international all-star cast will present a stylistic collaboration of Spanish, Mexican and Latin music with modern and latin jazz styles. Incomparable one-of-a-kind Mexican jazz singer Magos Herrera will be joined by Victor Prieto, accordion virtuoso from Galicia and Musical Bridges’ favorite San Antonio jazz trio featuring Aaron Prado on piano.

Check out the full International Music Festival at: mbaw.org/imf


Magos Herrera, voice

Born in Mexico City and currently based out of New York City, Magos Herrera is a dazzling jazz singer-songwriter, producer, and educator. Declared as “One of the greatest contemporary interpreters of the song” by The Latin Jazz Network, Magos is regarded as one of the most active vocalists in the contemporary Latin American jazz scene, she is best known for her eloquent vocal improvisation and her singular bold style, which embraces elements of contemporary jazz with Ibero-American melodies and rhythms singing in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, in a style that elegantly blends and surpasses language boundaries.

“She gets way under the skin of the song, recalling great communicators like Edith Piaf or Billie Holiday” is how NPR describes Herrera’s talents who has recorded 9 albums including joint collaborations with producer Javier Limón in addition to having participated as a guest artist of several recordings and albums. An accomplished artist, Magos has performed in leading international cultural venues such as Lincoln Center in NYC, Kennedy Center in DC, Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Union Chapel in London, Duc des Lombards in Paris, Kamani Auditorium in Delhi, Palau de la Musica in Valencia, and has been part of the line-up of some of the most memorable jazz festivals around the world including Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Festival Internacional Cervantino, to mention a few. Throughout her career, Magos has garnered important awards and recognitions, including a Grammy short-list nomination in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category for her album Distancia (2009), and is the only female artist to have received the Berklee College of Music’s Master of Latin Music Award. She is well known for championing women’s causes, served as spokesperson for UN Women, and has contributed to important campaigns including UNITE to end violence against women and He For She, as a promoter of gender equality. She serves as an artistic advisor of the “National Sawdust”, one of Brooklyn’s most innovative venues, and as a frequent collaborator for radio and TV Magos produces and hosts a weekly radio program from New York for Mexico’s Public Radio.

In 2018 Magos released her album Dreamers (Sony Music) in collaboration with Brooklyn Rider. ”Dreamers is not only a work of art, setting musicians of the highest order to accomplish music with purpose, but it is a work of love as well,” wrote Sounds and colors on this highly acclaimed album that rapidly got into #1 Amazon, #2 iTunes and got into the Top lists of The New York Times, Billboard classical, NPR Music, NPR Alt Latino, PRI The world, among others and was nominated for the international Grammys for Best arrangement with the song “Niña”. This recording includes gems of the Ibero- American songbook reimagined by a superb group of arrangers including Jaques Morelenbaum, Gonzalo Grau, Diego Schissi, Guillermo Klein, and Brooklyn Rider’s own Colin Jacobsen. In the same year, Magos received the Omecíhuatl Medal, an award granted by the Women’s Institute of the government of Mexico City in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the empowerment of women through the arts and culture and has been included as one of the most creative Mexicans in the world by Forbes Mexico. Herrera is a 2020 recipient of Chamber Music Americas New Jazz Works Award, a 2021 South Arts Jazz Road Creative Residencies, and Cafe Royal grants and currently, she serves as a Cultural Diplomatic Advisor for the Mexican Government.

Created and recorded remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic and in collaboration with composer Paola Prestini, in December 2020 Herrera released her tenth album “Con Alma”, an operatic tableau on isolation (National Sawdust Tracks), exploring the question of how we can find communion in a time of isolation. With more than 30 musicians around the globe including Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería, Jeff Zeigler, Kinan Azmeh, Romero Lubambo, Gonzalo Grau, Vinicius Gomes, Diego Schissi, Ensemble Sjella, Constellation Choir, and The Young People’s Chorus of New York City this artifact of our time was presented as a virtual digital experience on Dec 13th through National Sawdust virtual stage Mexican Government Secretary of Culture platforms directed by multimedia director Ashley Tata and in collaboration with visual artists Kevork Mourad.

In retrospective as NPR describes on Herrera’s work “She’s stretching the very notion of jazz singing, pushing past the diva pleasantries into a sound that’s bold, thrilling and effortlessly global”.


Victor Prieto, accordion

There are some musicians who always get classified in the “beyond” categories in the magazine polls. They are usually musicians that are in such a unique area of music that there are few peers to make a single category for their respective instrumental talent and focus. Victor Prieto belongs to that list.

Grammy Winner Victor Prieto is hailed by The New York Times as “A fiendishly skilled accordionist and composer” and by The All About Jazz as “One of the best World music and Jazz accordionists nowadays”.

He has changed the way musicians and spectators view accordion by revolutionizing both technique and sound (Chord approach on both hands). His love for the traditional Galician music and classical education enriches his compositions with explosive rhythm and colors uniquely combining Galician Roots, Celtic, Brazilian, Jazz, Tango, and Classical music

Victor continues collaborating on world stages with Yo-Yo Ma (Songs of Joy and Peace, Sony BMG Masterworks. “2010 Grammy Winning Album”), Arturo O’Farrill Latin Jazz Orchestra, Cristina Pato, The Maria Schneider Orchestra, Valinor Quartet (“Second Half” 2014 Grammy Nominated album) Paquito D’Rivera, Chris Cheek, Christian Howes Group.

He teaches Master Classes in US Berklee College of Music, “Playing outside the Box”, Spain, Italy, Portugal and has headed the jazz accordion studies at the Brooklyn Conservatory, New York and he also was the Chairman of the Accordion department at Adagio Conservatory, Lugo (Spain).
Some of Victor’s awards and prizes are: The Creative Performer award from the Spanish Association of Artists and Performers, and the first prize CMZK’s Concourse of Composition.

Victor Prieto holds a Degree in Jazz accordion performance from Berklee College of Music, where he studied with a full scholarship and a Diploma in classical accordion from Ourense – Spain Conservatory. He is the only one to date to specialize in jazz accordion studies, Berklee College of Music does not offer any classes focusing on accordion. Uninhibited by these circumstances, Victor created his own study program applying the expertise offered by educators at Berklee to the accordion. His students are internationally renowned accordionists and teachers.

Aaron Prado Jazz Trio

–Aaron Prado, DMA, piano–
Aaron is a pianist, composer, educator, and radio personality based in San Antonio, Texas. Prado received a Doctorate of Musical Arts in piano performance at the University of Texas at Austin’s Butler School of Music in 2014. Prior, Prado attended Columbia University for undergraduate study and New York University for a Master’s Degree. From 2003-2009, Prado was Music Director at Trinity University’s jazz radio station – KRTU 91.7FM – where he is currently the host of “Aaron Prado Presents” – heard Sundays 2:00-4:00 p.m. In 2011, Prado debuted his “San Antonio Jazz Suite” – a large-scale composition scored for big band, string quartet, and narration that tells the story of San Antonio. In 2015, Prado published a book of transcriptions of solo recordings by jazz pianist Bill Evans (published by Hal Leonard). In 2018, Prado received a grant from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio to compose “The Hero’s Journey” – the piece premiered at the Instituto Cultural de Mexico. In 2019, Prado released two albums: a sextet album “Live at Jazz, TX” and a trio album of original music called “And Now…” Prado teaches and is President of the Faculty Senate at Northwest Vista College.

The piece “Sister Cities” was commissioned by Musical Bridges Around the World and premiered in February 2018 during the International Music Festival. Featuring musicians from Sister Cities across the globe, the piece celebrates the spirit of collaboration, cultural exchange, and dialogue championed by the Sister Cities organization. Utilizing elements common to countless cultures, including chant, the pentatonic scale, juxtaposition of triple and duple meters, and counterpoint, the piece features the musicians layering individual statements as well as unison exclamations. Collective improvisation represents exchange of ideas, and the perpetually ascending harmony of the climax suggests the heights to which we aspire as an international community. My deepest gratitude to the musicians for bringing this piece to life on the stage and now virtually as an affirmation of the power of music to strengthen connections in the face of incredible suffering, upheaval, and turmoil.

Dr. Prado also plays an essential and vital role in “The Quilt” film project, as the head music supervisor as well as the composer of the original soundtrack of the film.

–Johnathan Alexander, percussion–
Johnathan Alexander has been a professional musician for 20+ years and has been one of the top and highly regarded first-call musicians in the South Texas/ Texas region and internationally. He has played/ worked with such musicians as Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Dave Matthews, Branford Marsalis, Butch Miles, Andre Hayworth, and much more. He is a graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. He is a performer, teacher, and clinician that has been on the scene for the last 20 years and is still doing all aforementioned to this day.

–Brandon Rivas, bass–
Brandon Antonio Rivas was born in 1975 in San Antonio, TX. At an early age, Brandon showed an interest in music largely due to his father, who is a trumpet player. He participated in numerous orchestras including the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio, where he was Principle Bassist. He was then selected to the All-State Orchestra of Texas. Brandon received numerous scholarship offers and chose Loyola University where he was selected as Principal Bassist. Always having an interest in Jazz, he then decided to study at the University of New Orleans, under the direction of Ellis Marsalis. It was there that he quickly developed into a sought-after and first-call bassist on the New Orleans jazz scene.
Brandon has been employed by and performed with the following musicians: The Nelson Riddle Orchestra, The Mambo Kings, Ellis Marsalis, Donald Harrison, Nicholas Payton, Mark Whitfield, New Birth Brass Band, Charles Neville, Kermit Ruffin, Harry Connick, Sr., Adela Dalto, Harold Battiste, Henry Butler, Irvin Mayfield, Bob French and the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, Wes Anderson, Steve Masakowski, Peter Martin, Merl Saunders, Corey Henry and the Young Gentleman, Gerry Gibbs Third Trio From the Sun,
and John Vidacovich.

Brandon has served as a clinician in Austria and Italy. He has also performed on extensive tours with various bands. Included in these are two European tours with the Harold Battiste All-Stars, and a tour of Spain with Donald Harrison. Brandon was employed as a studio musician by the Sound Factory Studio in Memphis, TN. He has played on numerous recordings!

Selected Discography: Ban Gibson – “Zat You Santa Claus,” Eric Hoctor- “Hanging by a Thread,” Cronk “Wegotchew,” Fiesta San Antonio Album, 2002-2003, Sista Tee Dee – “UMAMI,” Loretta Cormier – “Under a Blanket of Blue,” Owen Dugan – “An Elephant Never Forgets,” and Latin Playerz- “Spiritual Awakening, ” (Grammy Nominated).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

– Are tickets required for entry to the concert?
Yes, but they are free! Seating is first-come-first-served.

– How do I get a ticket?
Tickets are available on this page, mbaw.org/imf or on Eventbrite

– Why can I only get two tickets at a time? What if I bring my family?
Because of a large amount of duplicating information coming through on our end, ticket numbers are reserved for two maximum, but this does not mean you are restricted access to two people only. As long as one member of the party presents their ticket at the door, any party size will be allowed in. Any member of your party may also register for tickets separately if they so choose.

– What do I show at the door?
To help our attendants, please have your ticket ready when you get there. Attendants will be ready to scan the QR code on your ticket (print, email, or app).

– What if I forget to get a ticket(s) or don’t have one when I get there?
An attendant at the door can help you register and get in quickly and easily. If you have registered but have forgotten the ticket, an attendant can pull up your name and check you in manually.

– What are the current health protocols I need to follow?
Masks are currently strongly encouraged. The event organizer may make the decision to require masks at any time leading up to the event.

– How do I get to the Empire Theatre? Where do I park?
Please refer to the Empire’s location/parking information here: https://www.majesticempire.com/info/parking-directions

– Can I take picture(s) or video(s)?
No flash photography. We ask that you limit photos or videos to a minimum during the actual performance as a courtesy to our artists.

Any other questions? Contact us.


23 March 2022
7:00 pm
Free & Open to the Public, Tickets Required for Entry
Event Category:


Charline McCombs Empire Theatre
226 N St Mary's St
San Antonio, TX 78205 United States