Austin Lyric Opera's Stampede
Wranglin' every kind of music in town
When you talk up that "live music capital of the world" thing, you include opera in the mix, right? Well, you should. Austin Lyric Opera includes almost every other kind of music in its mix. At its Armstrong Community Music School – the first community music school in the country run by an opera company, by the way – you can receive instruction in opera and classical music as well as jazz, bluegrass, blues, folk, you name it, taught by the likes of Darden Smith, Michael Fracasso, and Seth Walker. When ALO decided to start its own festival to raise funds for the school's programs and scholarships, it didn't limit itself to arias and overtures; it added a mess of blues, Latino rock, and Western swing. What's more, it's sharing some of the proceeds from these festival concerts with the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. How's that for inclusive?
Dubbed the Stampede, the festival provides a weeklong launch to ALO's 24th season. Audiences can enjoy unplugged concerts by Del Castillo and Seth Walker in the intimacy of Ducloux Hall at the Mary Ann Heller Opera Center, a giant concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel with Willie Nelson along for the ride, Master Pancake Theater mocking Pretty Woman, and, oh yes, even some opera: a new production of Verdi's La Traviata from ALO.
The idea for the Stampede came from ALO General Director Kevin Patterson, but he credits Benson, who has served on the opera's advisory council for years, with providing some key input. "Ray just kinda threw out: 'We know that you do all these things in the music school, so why don't you highlight all these styles and look for musicians who not only identify with these styles but have some musical background that connects what you're doing to the school?'"
Not surprisingly, Benson and the Wheel signed on pretty quickly. (More surprisingly, they'll be performing in Dell Hall on the Traviata set.) And in line with the Armstrong School's mission, the Wheel, Walker, and Del Castillo will each conduct an afternoon workshop on their respective styles of music open to musicmakers of every level. It supports the idea, Patterson says, that "we are that community resource for musicians. We're nurturing not only the dreams of students and young adults who might go on and become professional musicians in Austin but also the computer programmer who plays in a garage band. We're nurturing creativity on all those levels. By setting up the Stampede, we're celebrating the diversity of music in the community."
For more information, call 472-5992 or visit www.austinlyricopera.org.
ALO Stampede Schedule
Monday, Nov. 1: Pretty Woman with Master Pancake Theater. Purchase includes one ticket voucher for ALO's La Traviata. Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S. Lamar, 7pm.
Wednesday, Nov. 3: Blues Guitar Workshop with Seth Walker. Ducloux Hall, Mary Ann Heller Opera Center, 901 Barton Springs Rd., 4pm.
Blues Guitarist Seth Walker Unplugged. Ducloux Hall, Mary Ann Heller Opera Center, 901 Barton Springs Rd., 7:30pm.
Thursday, Nov. 4: Latino Music Workshop with Del Castillo. Ducloux Hall, Mary Ann Heller Opera Center, 901 Barton Springs Rd., 4pm.
Del Castillo Unplugged. Ducloux Hall, Mary Ann Heller Opera Center, 901 Barton Springs Rd., 7:30pm.
Friday, Nov. 5: Country Western Swing Music Workshop. Ducloux Hall, Mary Ann Heller Opera Center, 901 Barton Springs Rd., 4pm.
Asleep at the Wheel 40th Anniversary Concert with Willie Nelson. Dell Hall at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside, 7:30pm.
Saturday, Nov. 6: Opening night for La Traviata. Dell Hall at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside, 6pm.
Black Tie and Boots gala. Hyatt Regency Ballroom, 208 Barton Springs Rd., 9pm.
La Traviata continues through Nov. 14, Wednesday & Friday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 3pm, at Dell Hall at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside.