Irish Players coming to South Padre Island

It’s an early celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and all things joyfully Irish when the San Antonio Comhaltas Session Players perform at the Isla Grand Beach Resort on Friday and Saturday nights, February 20 – 21, 2015. Light refreshments and a cash bar will open the event at 6:30 p.m. and the concert will begin at 7:30 p.m.

The Comhaltas Session Players is one of the more than 400 international chapters of the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí (meaning “Society of the Musicians of Ireland”) which is the primary Irish organization dedicated to the promotion of the music, song, dance and the language of Ireland. The San Antonio Chapter was founded in 2011 and its members have earned praise as amazingly accomplished musicians of traditional Irish music. They have twice toured Ireland and played for the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins. A local pub owner and musician in Dingle, Ireland was quoted in the local newspaper praising the San Antonio Group as, “a class apart in terms of their precision and execution. They bring back the way sessions used to be played in pubs.”

Irish traditional music sessions are mostly informal gatherings at which people play Irish traditional music. While the concert setting for El Paseo Arts will feature a more formal performance format than that typically seen in Irish Pubs, the musicians and singers will nevertheless sit in a semi-circular arrangement that allows them to interact with one another as part of the spirit of creative cooperation that characterizes a traditional session. The San Antonio group consists of thirteen musicians and singers playing reels, jigs, airs, hornpipes, set dances, slides, polkas and mazurkas. Their instruments include whistle, flute, guitar, bouzouki, banjo, spoons, fiddle, accordion, and bodhran and electric piano.

The program will also feature some high flying spurts of Irish Set dancing performed by ten dancers from the Gildea School of Irish Dance. Dance is an integral part of Irish music as many of the traditional forms were developed specifically for dance. Playing with dancers gives the musicians a deeper understanding of the rhythms and nuances of the music.

The first half of the musical program for El Paseo Arts entitled “The Other Side of the Pond” will feature the traditional music and dance of Ireland including such numbers as “Ballydesmond Polkas”, “Fergus O’Flaherty’s Fancy Port Large Set”, “Lilting Banshee Set”, and “The Boys from the County Armagh/Bless ‘em All.” The second part of the program, entitled “This Side of the Pond” will focus on American Irish tunes and Texas-American Irish tunes, some of which were played at the two Irish settlements of San Patricio and Refugio. Musical numbers include “Dingle Bay”, “Stolen Kiss/Gypsy”, The Kerry Polka Set”, Johnson’s Motor Car set”, and “Tater Jack Walsh”. Of course, no Irish music concert would be complete without some knowledge of the Irish culture and history, so the concert will include some charming and interesting tales about the history of how the particular songs came to be composed.

Tickets for the concert event are $25 per person, $20 for El Paseo Arts Foundation members. Tickets are available for purchase at Paragraphs Book Store on South Padre Island and The Art Gallery in Port Isabel’s Lighthouse Square. Tickets may also be purchased online at http://www.elpaseoarts.org or https://facebook.com/ElPaseoArtsTX.

This unique event promises an evening of arts entertainment that can be enjoyed by everyone. Truly, the rafters will chime and the roof will be lifted by the beauty of the music and the spirit of “comhaltus” that will be shared by musicians, singers, dancers and the audience members. Stories will be told, dances will be danced, songs will be sung, music will be played and all in the traditional Irish way with plenty of laughter and Irish fun.

El Paseo Arts Foundation pays tribute to the Big Band Era

In the United States, during the twentieth century, each succeeding generation embraced its own immensely popular, rhythmically strong and rebellious musical forms. Each of these musical forms has left a permanent mark on American popular music, especially the sound of the Big Bands – led by musical icons such as Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman. It was a positive and optimistic music that provided the jazzy, upbeat soundtrack during one of the most difficult periods of American History. When the Jazz Age ended and the country was shocked back to reality by the Great Depression and World War II, the new beat for Americans was found in the music of the Big Bands. This was the music that accompanied more than sixteen million members of the “Greatest Generation” as they marched off to war, the music that lifted spirits on the home front, the music that welcomed our soldiers home, and the music that eased people’s worries during the post-war recession.Billy Ledbetter's Big Band

On Saturday, January 31, 2015, El Paseo Arts Foundation is delighted to pay tribute to the Big Band Era when it plays host to the Billy Ledbetter’s Orchestra in the ballroom of the Hilton Garden Inn. Billy Ledbetter’s Orchestra, with the band members in tuxedos and bow ties, is the personification of the Big Band music era, and when they settle into their chairs behind music stands, they bring a special touch of elegance and nostalgia to the evening’s entertainment. Billed as the “World’s Finest Dance Band”, this Houston group has a repertoire that includes every kind of music except opera. Join El Paseo Arts for an evening of music and dancing with a musical cavalcade that features swing, rock and roll, disco, country, and ballroom dances like the cha-cha, rumba and waltz. It’s a sentimental musical journey you won’t want to miss.

The evening begins with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar at 6:30 p.m. The music and dancing start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are $25 per person, $20 for members and are available for purchase at Paragraphs Book Store, The Art Gallery in Lighthouse Square, and online at elpaseoarts.org, Eventbrite, or facebook.com/ElPaseoArtsTX.

Cinematic sights of Morocco open 2015’s Foreign Film Festival season

The third annual Foreign Film Festival, sponsored by El Paseo Arts Foundation, opens on Tuesday, January 6, 2015. Known for presenting award winning, full-length independent feature films, the festival spotlights filmmakers from developing countries. This year’s films delight the senses from Morocco, Venezuela, Cameroon, Egypt, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Curated for excellent and thought provoking stories, these films present truly unique and yet universal human experiences. This year, our lens focuses on stories of children transcending war and class struggle, interplayed with parents making the best lives for their families.

We open with “Adios Carmen”, a film in Berber and Spanish from Morocco. 1975 saw brewing conflict in the Sahara, when newly married Zahia leaves her son Amar with his absentee uncle. Left to his own devices, Amar finds refuge with his neighbor, the exotic Spaniard Carmen. She introduces him to the Bollywood cinema, and lessons on life, love, and loss.
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El Paseo Arts to Hold Auditions for Boeing! Boeing! On February 18th and 19th

Fasten your seat belt for a non-stop ride as El Paseo Arts Foundation will hold auditions at Paragraphs Bookstore on Wednesday and Thursday, February 18th and 19th, at 7:00 p.m., for the April 1st and 2nd production of Boeing! Boeing! – winner of the 2008 Tony for Best Revival of a Play. It’s a show that will take actors and audiences alike up, up and away!

It’s 1960 and Bernard, a successful architect living in Paris juggles three fiancées – an American, an Italian and a German – each a beautiful airline hostess with frequent layovers in Paris. Following a carefully timed schedule based on airline itineraries, and with the help of his disapproving housekeeper, Bernard keeps one up, one down and one pending and each woman unaware of the others’ existence. However, Bernard’s perfect life gets bumpy when his naïve home-town friend Robert comes to stay, some unexpected bad weather causes schedule changes that throw off all of his careful planning. Soon all three stewardesses are in town simultaneously; timid Robert is forgetting which lies to tell to whom; and catastrophe looms. All this combines to create an evening of hilarious turbulence that is deliciously and deliriously innocent in its quaint “swinging sixties” style.

There are six fabulous parts in the play. Bernard is the American businessman trying to live the life of a hipster lothario in Paris. He is engaged to Gloria the take-charge, health obsessed American; to Gabriella, the sentimental, lusty Italian; and to Gretchen, the dominating but thin-skinned German. Berthe is Bernard’s chic, French existentialist maid who loves nothing more than to complain; and Robert is Bernard’s old college buddy – clumsy, unworldly and as green as a Wisconsin apple.

All the roles are very one-dimensional stereotypes and behaviors are often exaggerated, but the roles are all challenging for the actors in this high flying farce. Like all farces, this one has a lot of doors – seven of them – and they swing open and closed rapidly as Bernard and Robert try to keep the three fiancées apart and unaware of the other women’s presence in the apartment. Predictably that means that the show moves at a break-neck pace and involves lots of physical comedy.

Anyone interested in being part of this fun show either onstage or backstage is invited to attend auditions. Have questions or need additional information – contact JoAnn Evans at 956-572-5730.

The musical comedy/drama “Billy Bishop Goes to War” brings an extraordinary play to the El Paseo Arts stage at the Isla Grand Resort

The New York Times called Billy Bishop Goes to War “A high-flying ace of a show capturing the humor, the hellfire and the derring-do of an extraordinary career.” The New Yorker called it, “A delightful – and cunningly wrought – work of art.” El Paseo Arts Foundation in partnership with Brownsville’s Commemorative Air Force is proud to bring this amazing production to the Isla Grand Stage on Thursday and Friday, January 8 and 9, 2015. The evenings of theatre begin with light hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar at 6:30 p.m. The curtain goes up on the performance at 7:30 p.m.

Billy Bishop

The musical play written and composed by John Gray in collaboration with Eric Peterson is, on the surface, a biographical sketch of Billy Bishop, the highly decorated Canadian pilot who shot a record number of German planes in World War I. An aging Billy, surrounded by the memorabilia in his attic, recounts his past, and with the assistance of a pianist he performs songs is given extra resonance. The songs are sometimes raucous, sometimes mournful, but always steeped in the realities of wartime.

The songs feel like tunes of the WWI era, but the lyrics are pointed commentaries that support the play’s central themes. Billy’s epic story becomes a portrait of the different facets of war – the nobility, bravery and sacrifice it inspires and demands, the absurdities of military bureaucracy, the exhilaration and horror of combat, and the search for meaning by survivors who are often plagued by guilt. Continue reading

“Trailer Park” is sold out for Friday night

It is with both joy and disappointment to announce that Friday night’s performance of “The Great American Trailer Park” is sold out. Already purchased tickets will be honored, however seating is so limited that all online sales have been halted. Thank you all for making this show such a phenomenal success. For our lucky guests: we will welcome you for a final trip to Armadillo Acres tomorrow night!
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