MusicMusic News

Agarita Free Outdoor Concert This Friday


Join Agarita, San Antonio’s innovative chamber ensemble, for a unique outdoor open-air pool concert with guest composer Nadia Botello.  Come and watch the program on deck or swim to the sounds!

Botello created a series of two unique compositions for Agarita meant to be heard below water that interact with the sounds and history of the San Antonio River.

“Ojo de Agua I” is an underwater sound installation that will be played before and after the concert for people to swim to and “Ojo de Agua II” will be heard during the performance both below and above the water.

The program will feature music by Debussy, Dvorak, Jessica Meyer, Nadia Botello, Timo Andres, Philip Glass and Chris Rogerson.

The pool opens at 6:30 p.m. to experience “Ojo de Agua I” — an underwater sound installation by Botello. The live musical program will be performed at 7:30 p.m., with audio live streamed in the pool for an immersive program. Enjoy the concert in the water or on deck.

This concert is FREE and open to the public. Friendly to all ages. Reception to follow.

Friday, May 6

6:30 p.m. (pool opens) — Experience an underwater sound installation by Composer Botello

7:30 p.m. — audio live-streamed in the pool for an immersive program

Heights Pool, 250 Viesca St, San Antonio.


“Ojo de Agua” is a series of two unique compositions meant to be heard both above and below water. “Ojo de Agua: I” is a long-form (three- to four hour) underwater installation that utilizes publicly available USGS water data from the San Antonio River and Olmos Creek (the nearest available monitoring station to the pool).Collaborating with Agarita, the musicians improvised based on prepared graphical interpretations of measurements related to the health of the river and creek (e.g. precipitation, discharge, height).

Those recordings, together with hydrophone recordings from significant historical sites along the San Antonio River, became the foundation for the underwater composition. The length allows the audience to never experience the same moment twice.

“Ojo de Agua: II” is a more traditional composition for Agarita that will be performed above and below water simultaneously. This piece also utilizes San Antonio River USGS water data; as well as a custom machine learning process to find patterns which are then translated into the composition and arrangement for the quartet. This process retains the “shape” of the last decade of data for the river which is heard throughout the work (e.g. some moments of the work are perhaps not what would be logical for a traditional composition, but is quite literally what the data/river is saying).

Altogether, the process and compositions for “Ojo de Agua” are meant to pose the questions: “What might the river be saying for itself?” and “What does it mean to really listen to a body of water?”. The process of listening underwater is a special and unique one where we listen through bone conduction instead of through our cochlear system; this short-cuts preconceived notions of what listening even means…listening is inherently physical and intimate, but hearing-abled people often assume you only use your ears in this process.

In reality, we use our entire bodies to listen all the time. (Bone conduction also allows people with hearing difficulties to access the compositions more easily, and aligns closer to how they experience sound in the world normally.)

Water is our most important resource. The city of San Antonio would not exist if it were not for the San Antonio River, the Edwards Aquifer, and the sundry springs and creeks throughout the area. As we navigate through drought, the ever-expanding built environment, pollution, and other major concerns… what kind of experience and questions can we provoke for an audience — listening in a pool with water provided by these systems — and what might that mean for the attention and care of our local waters?


An innovative chamber ensemble dedicated to producing bold, collaborative musical events, Agarita offers a new way to experience classical and contemporary music. Rooted in San Antonio and founded by Daniel Anastasio (piano), Marisa Bushman (viola), Ignacio Gallego (cello), and Sarah Silver Manzke (violin), Agarita nourishes the local community through artistic collaborations, community engagement and free, adventurous programming. With concise, eclectic performances that are “splendid – unified, spirited, [and] well prepared” (Greenberg, Incident Light), the young chamber group offers a new, open-armed experience for listeners.

Agarita was recently named San Antonio Magazine’s Best of the City 2021: Culture winner for its collaboration with area partners. It works intimately with local artists of various genres to weave cross-artistic narratives for each concert.

Agarita’s past collaborations have included the McNay Art Museum’s Pop América exhibit, lighting artist Chuck Drew, Cameron Beauchamp from the Grammy Award-winning vocal group Roomful of Teeth, chef Elizabeth Johnson and Pharm Table restaurant, poet Laura Van Prooyen, sculptor Danville Chadbourne, educational arts institution SAY Sí and the Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festivalfor a concert inside San Antonio’s historic Mission San José.

Photos courtesy Natalie Sun.