In 2016 MBAW will begin the third season of its new community outreach program, Golden Age. The goal is to positively impact the lives of senior citizens – many whom are unable to travel to outside performances due to lack of health and stamina. MBAW will produce concerts in more than 10 nursing homes and retirement communities in the San Antonio area. Golden Age is an asset to these centers as they are freed of the logistical and financial challenges of transport and ticketing fees. This year we hope to continue to reach more senior citizens than ever before. MBAW will take the hour-long, interactive performances to more than 4,000 seniors this year!
Golden Age concerts are engaging and specifically geared toward the audience. During the performances – artists share historical and anecdotal stories, creating a casual, friendly environment. Following the concerts, performers visit with the audience — often the community holds a reception so residents can converse and share their appreciation and love of music with one another. These concerts lift the spirits of residents in the centers and improves their quality of life. The concerts instill within them a sense of youth, health and vivacity. As stated in Assisted Living Today, “Studies continue to demonstrate the positive impact music has on patients suffering from all forms of neurological disorders, including dementia. Its benefits affect both the physical and mental issues that stem from mental illness.”
Daniel Laser Executive DirectorGolden Manor Jewish Senior Services
Flying Balalaika Brothers
The Flying Balalaika Brothers folk ensemble was 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. After humble beginning as a street band, the new virtuoso trio made of the stunning representatives of the Russian Balalaika School and expatriates from different parts of the former Soviet Union, became frequent guest artists in popular clubs, motion pictures, and TV shows in California. In 2008 FBB moved to Austin and took a rightful place in the live music capital of US. The band represents a blend of traditional world music, and original Russian-infused pieces. Audiences delight, “Flight of the Bumble Bee and Latin Cucaracha in one concert! WOW!” Frequently on tour nationally and internationally the group leaves its fans wanting more!
Pianist Elena Portnaya is an alumna of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and laureate of numerous international piano competitions. Elena has performed solo and in chamber ensembles in Russia, Poland, England, Portugal, Argentina, Italy, Switzerland and the United States. She became a Doctor of Musical Arts in 2009, when she completed her doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin. She loves to work with singers and has therefore worked as a rehearsal pianist for four seasons at the Butler Opera Center at UT Austin. During 2010 and 2011, she was one of the Houston Grand Opera Studio artists, working on the preparation of Madame Butterfly, Dead Man Walking and Ariadne auf Naxos, under the baton of the maestro Patrick Summers. Elena is currently an Artistic Coordinator at Musical Bridges Around the World.
Soprano Icy Monroe has been hailed as a passionate singer whose love for music flows through everyone that hears her. Ms. Monroe’s grace and talent has been conveyed through many roles including Susannah in Susannah, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, and Catherine in The Butler Opera Center’s world premiere of A View from the Bridge by William Bolcom (the chamber orchestra version). Ms. Monroe attended the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria during the summer of 2006. She won the state and regional National Association of Teachers of Singing Competitions (07-08), as well as the District Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 2007, 2008, and 2011. Ms. Monroe is also the winner of the 2008 Classical Singer Competition-University Division, and the winner of the “Peoples’ Choice” Award in the Dallas Opera Guild Competition for 2008.
Known for her outstanding musicianship, mezzo-soprano Veronica Williams is an up and coming young artist located in the Austin area. A previous student of Anya Grokhovski, she went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and her Master of Music degree from Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. Past operatic roles include the Old Prioress in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, Hansel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, and the title role in Hanns Eisler’s Die Mutter. Since her postgraduate return to Austin, Veronica has performed in Aida, and Der fliegende Hollander as a proud member of the Austin Opera chorus. She has also been making a mark in Austin’s live music scene as the newly appointed musical director of Cornerstone Reggae.
Ukrainian pianist Oleg Poliansky is the prizewinner of many international competitions, including the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Russia (1998), The International Duo Competition in Memoriam of Christian Ferras and Pierre Barbìzet in Marseille, France (1997), the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati, Ohio (1999), the Citta di Cantu in Italy (1998 and 2003), along with others in Tokyo, Japan (1986) and Montreal, Canada (1988). He has appeared with, and as a soloist for many highly-regarded orchestras, including among others: The Moscow Symphony Orchestra, The National Symphony of Ukraine and The Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra.
Alena Gorina & Anya Grokhovski are pianists with extensive concert experience as both soloists and chamber musicians who came together to share their love of piano ensemble repertory. Their programing is greatly influenced by their cultural and educational roots. Alena was born, raised, and educated in Belorussia (formerly, the Soviet Union) and Anya in Moscow, Russia. Needless to say, Russian music holds 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 is the Artistic Director of Musical Bridges Around the World, a non-profit cultural and educational organization based in San Antonio, Texas.