September 13, 2021—Austin Opera and the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin today announce a new collaboration with the creation of a new performance series. Concerts at the Consulate will spotlight Latinx composers and performers and celebrate Hispanic culture. The free series, curated by the renowned Mexican mezzo-soprano and Austin resident Claudia Chapa, kicks off with a concert by mezzo-soprano Stephanie Sanchez celebrating Mexican Independence Day. The concert will be captured at the Consulate’s 26,000 square foot space on Ben White Boulevard in East Austin to be released as a digital concert on October 1, 2021. The inaugural concert will be available for streaming on Austin Opera’s website and social media channels as part of its Live from Indy Terrace digital platform and on the Consulate’s streaming platforms. Subsequent events will be open to the public and will be available online.
Each of the Concerts at the Consulate events will include musical performances, discussions of the artistic and social context of the program, and the promotion of cultural and social organizations doing important work in Austin’s Latinx community. In addition to concerts featuring world-class Latinx singers, pianists, guitarists, and Mariachi groups, education programs for children will be offered as part of the series. The events will be programmed around important dates in the Mexican calendar:
Claudia Chapa, the Artistic Curator of the Concerts at the Consulate series, is well known to Austin Opera audiences for her performances in The Magic Flute, The Flying Dutchman, and Ariadne auf Naxos, in addition to her regular presence on the company’s Live from Indy Terrace streaming platform. As Curator she will oversee the development of authentic, engaging programming and the selection of artists to perform on the series.
“The arts are such a source of pride in Mexican culture, and with this series I hope to connect the Hispanic community that powers Austin with one of the crown jewels of the city’s arts scene,” says Ms. Chapa. “I know that audiences will enjoy these Latinx composers, whose work is steeped in the classical tradition. This is the music my parents and grandparents taught me—it is my history, our history—and I can’t wait to see it performed and received with the same attention and reverence as the great European masterpieces. It is an exciting time to present this music, and this new series is a great win for Austin. I am grateful for the support of the Mexican Consulate and Austin Opera.”
The series kicks off just after Mexican Independence Day on September 15 and sits within the broader Hispanic Heritage Month which seeks to honor not only the Mexican culture and its tremendous contributions to the fabric of Texas but also the many Latinx and Hispanic cultures. All performances will be held at the Consulate’s 26,000-square-foot facility on Ben White Boulevard in East Austin, an area with deep Latinx roots. The series will also be available for free digital streaming through Austin Opera’s Live from Indy Terrace platform on its website and YouTube and Vimeo channels as well as on the Consulate’s streaming platforms.
“As Consul General of Mexico in Austin, one of my main duties is to present what Mexico has to offer to Austin and Texas as a whole, including our cultural talents. With the collaboration of the Austin Opera, I am truly convinced that Mexican cultural heritage will be admirably represented with pride and dignity,” says Consul General of Mexico in Austin Pablo Marentes. “We are deeply grateful for this partnership, which will strengthen our identity as Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Latinx and Hispanics.”
“This series is an exciting next step in the longstanding relationship between the Opera and the Consulate, and we are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Latinx community on programming for this series and beyond” says Annie Burridge, the company’s General Director & CEO. “We are also so fortunate to have an artist of Claudia Chapa’s caliber at the center of this project. Her deep knowledge of Latinx music, extensive artistic network, understanding of Mexican culture, and infectious enthusiasm bring so much to Austin Opera, I can’t wait to discover the composers and performers she has programmed.”
The Consulate General of Mexico in Austin, is one of the 50 Mexican consular offices established in the United States. The history of the Consulate General dates back to the 1930s. In 1937, Don Eustacio Cepeda, who served as Consul de Facto, carried out his consular duties voluntarily and supervised by the Consulate General of Mexico in San Antonio. The consular district at the time included surrounding cities up to the towns of Georgetown and Temple, Texas. During the year 1938, the members of the American Chamber of Commerce of Austin, in collaboration with various groups of the Hispanic community such as the Mexican Honorary Commission, the Mexican Patriotic Committee and the Mexican Chamber of Workers, officially requested the Government of Mexico to open a consular office in the capital of the State of Texas.
Mexican resident Eustacio Cepeda was the pioneer of this formal petition to the Government of President Lázaro Cárdenas. That petition had nearly 500 signatures from Mexican and US citizens, including the signatures of state, county, and city officials. In 1940, upon approval of the installation of the first Mexican Consulate in Austin, Texas, Mr. Fidencio Soria was appointed as Consul of Mexico. The new consular office began its activities on February 1st of the same year. In April 5th, 1996 by common agreement between the governments of Mexico and the United States, the category of the Consular Representation was raised to Consulate General.
Nowadays, the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin, with a consular district covering 23 counties of Central Texas, serves about 800,000 Mexican nationals living in a 52,605 square kilometers area. The main services of this consular office includes documentation for Mexican nationals and foreigners, protection and legal assistance, community empowerment in health, education and financial matters, and Mexican cultural exchange.
More information regarding consular services:
Thank you to Carol Walsh-Knutson & Kelley Knutson for their underwriting support