From Lake Elmendorf to the River Walk, San Antonians are blessed with a surplus of beautiful waterways. Now a local composer is augmenting their visual appeal with a free series of sonic art performances in collaboration with the City of San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture.
According to a release, Alamo City sound artist Pamela Martinez will bring the happenings to two San Antonio dams in March. A Reiki master and educator putting out work as Teletextile, Martinez has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. National publications such as The Atlantic and the New York Times have lauded her densely layered soundscapes.
Martinez works with a revolving crew of collaborators to execute the events, creating “sound and ceremony” designed for specific sites. The San Antonio performances will explore “water as a carrier of culture throughout the city.”
The first two-act production will occur at Lake Elmendorf's 19th Street Dam on March 4 at 5 pm. The first act, “Transformation,” employs immersive staging to walk the audience into the dam's teeth. Guests are invited to contemplate the theme related to the different states of water and interpersonal development. The second act, “Our Power Together,” features an original score with percussion, horns, and choral elements.
“When I look at a dam, I see an opera house,” says Martinez via a release. “The majestic stage is set for the drama that is our lifeblood in the inevitable overflowing of water.”
Martinez will return for a second performance at the Roosevelt Control Tunnel Outlet Park on March 25 at 5:30 pm. The first act will reprise “Our Power Together,” staged with musicians floating on the San Antonio River in kayaks. The second act, “Flow,” encourages guests to promenade with the cast along the river up to the floating pavilion and the hidden three-mile water tunnel below.
The event will crescendo with “Dam! A Song of Water.” The composition was initially performed in October 2022 at Espada Dam in collaboration with the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The piece spotlighted the landmark and the Spanish colonial acequia system.
Both performances will last around an hour. Admission is free, but guests need to RSVP before the show. Tickets can also be upgraded by purchasing a digital download or reserved seating. Walking, however, will be a part of both events.
Participants are advised to dress appropriately for wet areas since performances will be held inside the dams and near the San Antonio River. Closed-toe or waterproof shoes with traction are encouraged. For safety reasons, the events will be rescheduled in the event of rain.
Those wanting to get a jumpstart on the performances can download a DAM! Audio Tour through geo-mapping app Echoes. The location-triggered sounds include remarks about the water’s nature, field recordings, and selections from Martinez’s work.