The Quilt: A Living History of African American Music | Musical Evenings at San Fernando Cathedral
January 23 @ 7:00 pmFree & Open to the Public, Tickets Required for Entry
This concert showcases outstanding musicians featured in Musical Bridges’ upcoming documentary film “The Quilt: A Living History of African American Music”. Performers include vocalist Beverly Houston, mezzo-soprano Veronica Williams, poet/vocalist Andrea Vocab Sanderson, trombonist Ron Wilkins, guitarist/vocalist Marc “Mockingbird” Smith, and pianist Aaron Prado’s jazz trio with drummer Johnathan Alexander and bassist Brandon Rivas. The program will highlight historical spirituals all the way to music of the present day.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
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).
Beverly Houston, voice
Beverly Houston is an International Recording & Performing Artist who received the San Antonio People’s Choice Award as Top R&B Artist. She has eight San Antonio Current Music Awards for Best Female Vocalist, and a large display of other awards and recognition plaques. The Jazz Market and San Antonio Fans selected Houston as 2013 Jazzy Fiesta Queen San Antonio. In June 2020, Houston performed for WellMed, an international live musical broadcast. She delivers the National Anthem at NBA games, U.S. open swim championship and at other events, as well as opening the 2019 Fiesta San Antonio with her rendition of the National Anthem.
Houston has performed around the country with national stars as Kirk Whalum, BB King, Bobby Bland, Etta James, ZZ Hill, John Lee Hooker, the Temptations, Chicago, the Coasters, Barbara Lynn, Philip Bailey of Earth Wind & Fire, Midnight Star, Commodores, and others. She travelled to Russia on a 19-day jazz tour with Russian-born pianist and one of MBAW’s founders Valeri Grohovski, performing at 9 major cities. She performed in Lithuania and made a stop-over in Prague, Czech Republic and Paris, France. Houston also performed in the Dominican Republic at the luxurious NOW Larimar Punta Cana Resort, and in Jamaica & Cancun; and in 2019 on the Carnival Cruiseline.
Houston co-hosted with Motion Picture Hollywood Star John Schneider in a television program, “Gimme the Mike,” a spin-off from American Idol. She sat as anchor DJ on the radio and made appearances on numerous television shows around the world. She has also produced several recording projects under the Hotline Records label.
Houston has received the LaPrensa Foundation’s Entertainer of the Year Award, the Texas Legislative Black Caucus’ 1999 Outstanding Texan Award, and was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame in 2004.
Veronica Williams, mezzo-soprano
Veronica Williams is an up-and-coming mezzo-soprano known for her “thrilling instrument” and “overwhelming authority” on stage. Most recently Ms. Williams made her debut with the Austin Symphony Orchestra as the alto soloist in G.F. Handel’s Messiah. In 2018, she was personally invited by Maestro Sebastian Lang Lessing to join the San Antonio Symphony as their first ever Singer-In-Residence. As a result, she was the featured soloist in Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony I, Manuel De Falla’s El Amor Brujo, and Sergei Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky throughout the Symphony’s 2018-2019 season. This summer, Ms. Williams will be debuting the roles of Bizet’s Carmen with the Texas Concert Opera Collective, and Ježibaba in a Luke Housner (LAH-SOW) production of Dvořák’s Rusalka. She also joins the Chicago Summer Opera singing Bradamante in Handel’s Alcina.
Ms. Williams received her Master of Music Degree from Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, and her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Previous roles include Cornelia in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, the Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Baba Yaga in Jason Tremblay’s Gretel! The Musical, Mrs. Ott in Floyd’s Susannah, the titular role in Handel’s Rinaldo, Concepción in Ravel’s L’heure Espagnole, the Old Prioress in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, Hansel in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and the title roles of Cesti’s Orontea and Eisler’s Die Mutter. Now based in Austin, Texas, Ms. Williams is a proud member of Local Opera Local Artists (LOLA), One Ounce Opera, and the Texas Concert Opera Collective, and has had the privilege of performing with Austin Opera’s chorus in previous seasons. When Veronica is not performing, she enjoys teaching and guiding talent in her growing and diverse voice studio.
Andrea Vocab Sanderson, poet & vocalist
Andrea Sanderson, San Antonio Poet Laureate 2020-2023, performs as “Vocab” in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas. “Watching her perform, the word “hero” comes to mind. And not “hero” for the sake of just skill, but for her work in her community: Sanderson teaches poetry workshops, mentors, builds up and encourages artists to pursue their art, and gives them platforms to showcase their talent.
Sanderson’s interest in other people’s art and artistic development became a passion of hers, and she started curating her own shows and creating platforms for other artists to hone their craft by hosting open mics.” (From The San Antonio Current, Jan. 16, 2018.) Her poetry is published in, The Texas Observer, January 2016 Issue, Pariah Anthology SFA Press, March 2016, and Sycorax’s Daughters, Cedar Grove Publishing, January 2017, Soundbite Vol. 3, Anti-Languorous Project, Spring 2019. Her debut book entitled: She Lives In Music, published on Flower Song Press, was released on Valentine’s Day 2020. Her album She Tastes Like Music, is available on all music streaming platforms.
She received awards, Performer of the Year, Influencer of the Year, from Project Forward, and Dream Voice, from the Dream Week Commission. Sanderson is the winner of the 2019 People’s Choice Award, awarded by Luminaria Artist Foundation (formerly known as: Artist Foundation of San Antonio). In May of 2020 she was awarded Best Live Entertainment/Band Musician of the Year by the SEA Awards.
Ron Wilkins, trombone & vocals
New York City/Austin, TX-based musician Ron Wilkins has been performing on tenor and bass trombones, euphonium, tuba, bass trumpet and vocals for over forty years. He has performed at the highest levels touring around the world with his own groups as well as premiere artists. Ron is a member of the Birdland Big Band, Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, and runs his own New York City big band alongside trombonist Rebecca Patterson which features their writing and includes some of New York City’s premiere musicians.
Ron’s uncanny musicianship has led him to perform in many diverse musical genres. He has performed with artists such as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Rosemary Clooney, Lena Horne, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Dizzy Gilespie, The Count Basie Orchestra, Mingus Big Band, The Temptations, Johnny Mathis, Jimmy Heath, Jon Faddis, Eddie Daniels, Randy Brecker, Wycliffe Gordon, and groups such as The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Jimmy Heath Big Band, Arturo O’ Farrill and his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band and Small Group, Chris Potter Big Band, Ed Palermo Big Band, Affinity Brass Quintet, Uptown Brass Quintet, Livio Almeida Brazilian Dectet, Memo Acevedo’s Building Bridges Band, San Antonio Brass, Capitol of Texas Brass Quintet, San Antonio Symphony and Festival Orchestra, Austin Symphony and Austin Pops, Mid-Texas Symphony, Victoria Symphony, Temple Symphony, and the Flint Symphony where he was twice guest artist for their summer pops concert series. Ron has performed with many touring Broadway shows, including “Frozen”, “West Side Story”, “Wicked”, “The Lion King”, Showboat”, “The Producers”, “Kinky Boots”, “Book Of Mormon”, “Shuffle Along” “Motown”, and many others. He is currently a sub on the Broadway shows Wicked, The Lion King, and Frozen. He was a featured artist on bass and tenor trombones at the International Trombone Festival in 2002 at the University of North Texas. Ron is also a veteran of the USAF Band of the West at Lackland AFB in San Antonio.
Ron’s latest album was released in August 2021 “TROMBOCALIST” ( Jazz Legacy Productions ), and is available at ronwilkins.net and streaming on Apple Music, Spotify, Box.com, and other sites.
Ron also has an extensive background as an educator. He is presently Professor of Jazz/Classical Trombone at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. Ron has performed as a guest artist from the elementary to university levels, jazz festivals, and has maintained his own private studio for decades. He has held positions at several colleges including the University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Incarnate Word, Texas Lutheran University, Northwest Vista College, and St. Mary’s University, where he has taught classical low brass, jazz studies, and jazz voice.
Ron is a Shires trombone artist and plays Giddings mouthpieces. He has worked with Ivan Giddings to create his own signature line of mouthpieces.
Marc "Mockingbird" Smith, guitar & vocals
Marc “Mockingbird” Smith is the leader of Mockingbird Express (formed in 2014). Informed by the psychedelic and blues traditions; Mockingbird Express plays blues and rock n’ roll music with the cool force of a DMT blast. Relying heavily on improvisation and instinct, the group explores retrogressive and progressive forms with intensity and ease. Debut album in 2018.