SA24 – UIW Music Department Comes Together for New Documentary

July 29, 2022

Woman playing piano and man singingVisit any voice instructor’s studio or choral director’s music library and you’ll find a copy of Twenty-Four Italian Songs and Arias, a classic teaching text for singers. The book features famous pieces like Caro Mio Ben and Vittoria, Mio Core, staples in the classical music repertoire of vocalists around the world, including within the halls of UIW’s Department of Music. It was this book that inspired Assistant Dean and Professor of Music Kevin Salfen to create a “San Antonio version” of the music collection in 2019. The process – from writing the new pieces to premiering them – was all captured on film for a new documentary called SA24 – Two Dozen Songs From Now. The documentary, co-produced by Salfen and Dr. Ken Metz, professor, will be shared at the San Antonio Film Festival on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

To begin the project, Salfen initially partnered with the late Dr. Harold Rodinsky, poet and associate professor of Psychology, several years ago to recruit local poets who could author text for the new songs. Then, local composers set the poetry to music. Salfen and Metz are credited as composers for the book, along with UIW faculty member William Gokelman. Once the two dozen new pieces were written, it was time to share them with the world. The group gathered local performers, including UIW faculty, students and alumni from the Department of Music, to prepare a premiere at San Antonio’s Radius Center in September 2019. Local filmmaker Brian Allen documented it all, and with that, SA24 – Two Dozen Songs From Now was born.

“SA24 is about the joy of artistic collaboration, about the thrill of hearing your words set to music, of hearing your music come to life in live performance, of having the chance to perform a song for the first time when the poet and composer are there in the room with you,” shared Salfen. “The film is also an important piece of local history, featuring segments with city and state poet laureates and with important local composers and performers.”

Beyond having the chance to develop and publish the new musical text, the UIW Music family viewed the experience as a unique opportunity to come together in a meaningful way. The days of preparation bonded the musicians, poets, alumni and faculty, forming connections that all involved know will last a lifetime. Writers, composers, and performers – students and professionals – who may never have met otherwise,  were brought together, opening up rich possibilities for future collaboration. Maura Navarette Bojalil

“Getting to work with the faculty made me feel like an equal in the process of music-making,” remembered Maura Navarette Bojalil, an alumnae of the UIW Department of Music (pictured right). “I knew that I had crossed the line from student to performer. I owe it all to them.”

SA24 originally premiered at the Erie International Film Festival in December 2021 to rave reviews. The film was nominated for Best of Genre for Documentary Feature. However, Salfen, Metz, Allen and the local artists are excited to bring the film to a local audience.

“As gratifying as that was, the filmmakers weren’t able to attend the premiere,” Salfen explained. “Having the film screened in San Antonio, at the same venue where the performance happened in September 2019, and with many of the artists from the film in attendance, will be truly special.”

A “powerful tribute to the creative process,” the film will be screened at 9:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 2 at San Antonio’s Radius Center (106 Auditorium Circle #120). It’s a moment UIW’s Department of Music looks forward to in grateful anticipation.

When asked what he wants for the film’s viewers, Salfen shared, “My hope is that people who see the film will be reminded of how artistically vibrant San Antonio is and will be inspired to dream up their own artistic collaborations.”

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