An appreciative audience welcomed the debut of the new Laredo-focused documentary film, “Rhapsody on the Rio Grande: A Confluence of Culture,” April 19 at Texas A&M International University’s (TAMIU) Center for the Fine and Performing Arts’ Theatre.
The debut was free of charge and open to the public.
It will begin airing on KLRN Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 8:30 p.m. Additional airdates are available online at klrn.org. The film will be available for viewing after broadcast at http://video.klrn.org
“Rhapsody on the Rio Grande,” is an innovative film produced with generous funding support from the City of Laredo, and based on a haunting musical composition, “Rapsodia,” by TAMIU faculty member and University organist Dr. Colin Campbell. It explores the river’s immutable ability to bring together diverse peoples and, using music, explores theme streams of culture, history and identity.
Dr. Pablo Arenaz, TAMIU president, said he believes the documentary film tells a powerful story.
“It’s a remarkable artistic offering that’s infused with what it means to be a citizen of our dynamic border. It masterfully draws from a universal palette of sound and image to share its story. I think audiences will be especially delighted to see familiar Laredo faces and hear traditional sounds that embrace that story,” Dr. Arenaz said.
Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said the documentary opens the door to the wonder that is Laredo.
“We are proud to collaborate on such a worthy endeavor. This film-making work of art showcases Laredo’s bountiful culture manifested through its rich history and gifted people,” said Mayor Saenz, “This documentary captures “nuestro Laredo,” our communities’ longstanding ability of bringing people and their talents together. As we show this film off to the world, I can only hope that the effect it has on viewers is as enticing and uplifting as I see it. Our community is complex in ways, yet, embraces simplicity in expression and care. We have outstanding educational institutions, truly one-of-a-kind music, talented people and invariably, our bilingual and bicultural border mix is a strength to be touted. This film opens the door to the wonder of who we are,” Saenz concluded.
Arthur Emerson, president and CEO of KLRN, which produced the film, said it is truly a labor of love.
“Rhapsody on the Rio Grande is a labor of love that has been in the making for two years. We are so pleased that the final product is ready for broadcast. Laredo has played an essential role in shaping the culture of South Central Texas, and this documentary takes the unique features and diverse talents of this community and brings them to light for all to see,” Emerson noted.
“Rapsodia” composer Dr. Campbell said he is both blessed and honored to have been part of the film.
“It is an overwhelming and fulfilling experience, seeing the planning of just over a year’s work coming together. Being involved in the planning, drafting and final composing of the work, recording the live performance, and now bringing it to screen…this is the pinnacle of any composer’s path. I am truly blessed and honored to be granted the opportunity to create a work that truly celebrates culture and cultural diversity, and focuses on Laredo and the Rio Grande. I have learned once again how music can unite and cross barriers, even at times when language fails to convey,” Campbell remarked.
The film was produced by KLRN and directed by Austin-based filmmaker Luke Dillard.
Part of the film’s special charm is its colorful use of the sounds of Campbell’s composition as performed in concert by the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Brendan Townsend, accompanied by the famed Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán de Guadalajara, directed by Fernando Martínez. The performance was videotaped with multiple cameras in a special TAMIU staging in late April 2016.
KLRN is the Emmy award‐winning Public Television station for South Central Texas and broadcasts to a 30‐county radius including Webb County. Its mission is to enrich the lives of South Central Texans through the power of communication—providing quality programs and services advancing education, art and culture, and community.
TAMIU’s long collaboration with KLRN includes its TAMIU-KLRN studio on campus. The Studio provides students a chance to create original video content, and provides expansive learning opportunities. The University offers both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication.
For additional information, contact the University’s Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at 956.326.2180, click on tamiu.edu or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, Suite 268.
Celebrating the film's release, left to right, Arthur Emerson, KLRN-CEO, Laredo Mayor Pete Saez, Composer Dr. Colin Campbell; Laredo music legend Elmo Lopez and TAMIU president, Dr. Pablo Arenaz.