So many things came together to build Texas as we know it today. So many disparate cultures have made their mark on our state and contributed to its cultural fabric. What’s so interesting is the commonalities. The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures
will present “Accordions Across Culture,” 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., on its free Second Sunday, May 8.
Culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and the museum will show what happens when cultures find common ground. The museum put together a program featuring the accordion as that common element. Visitors will get to see what happens when the instrument lands in the hands of a Tejano Conjunto player, a German Polka player, and a Czech Schottische player.
The museum tapped local favorite Flavio Longoria for the Conjunto role. Flavio is the son of Conjunto Hall of Fame accordionist Valerio Longoria, and the day’s activities feature a documentary on Valerio’s work, “Valerio Longoria: For a Quarter a Song.” Professor Manuel Medrano from UT-Brownsville, who produced the documentary, will attend to offer his insights.
For a San Antonio perspective, Juan Tejeda, director of the Tejano Conjunto festival, agreed to share some of his memories and perspective on the music and the people who brought the Conjunto scene into the limelight. Accordions Across Culture is a prelude of sorts, to Tejeda’s Tejano Conjunto Festival, scheduled for May 11 to 15.
Contrasting the Tejano Conjunto style with European influences is Laura Niland, band leader of the Yellow Roses Accordion Band. Through Niland’s music, the museum hopes to demonstrate the Polka and Schottische influence and underpinnings to the younger Conjunto style. Niland and the Yellow Roses can draw on a broad repertoire, including Latin, French, Italian, easy listening and Broadway tunes. That bag of tricks should come in handy as the event wraps up with a jam session, blending Conjunto with other styles.
In speaking with the institute’s Lupita Barrera from the education department, she said we always hear in conversation that cultures are different. Part of the museum’s mission is to search for the similarities. Cultures are alike, cultures differ and cultures blend. The accordion is just one commonality.
Accordions Across Culture is the Institute of Texan Cultures’ Free Second Sunday program for May 8. It’s Mothers’ Day, and the program should make for a good “serenada” for mom. The museum is open noon to 5 p.m., with the program running from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.