Listening to classical music on the radio, I get transported every time they play Aaron Copeland, Gershwin, or Dvorak’s New World Symphony. For me, nothing evokes the USA quite as well as music from these geniuses. (Yes, I know Dvorak was Czech, but honestly–is there anything more evocative than the New World Symphony?) This got me to wishing, “Gee–I wish the orchestra here would play one of these symphonies.”
However, lines have been drawn, and a Mexican orchestra may have a hard time playing music that sings praises to that neighbor to the north–no matter how gorgeous the music is or how individuals in that orchestra may find things to admire about that neighbor.
It’s a complicated relationship, to put it lightly.
So now, who would be the Mexican equivalent of Dvorak, Gershwin, or Copeland?
Look no further, I think I have found him!
On September 1st, 2017, the Orquesta Filarmónica del Desierto debuted the Mexico 2010 Symphonic Suite by Arturo Rodriguez.
In the second movement, the violins sustained a single note, very quietly, providing a background for the other instruments to quietly shine. With the combination of that many violins, playing so quietly together, I found I was holding my breath for the longest time, delightfully waiting for the different sections to pass the melody around the orchestra.
Both the harp and the piano were given a number of chances to shine, which they did, integrating themselves seamlessly in and out of the larger orchestra.
For those who have heard a neighborhood band outside a church festival anywhere in Mexico, “out of tune” is a generous description. Tipping his hat to this cultural quirk, for a few bars towards the end, Rodriguez decided that the flutes and clarinets should reach a level of dissonance to evoke that squawky, neighborhood band. That dissonance in the hands of professionals–not squawky enthusiasts–added a level of tension that kept us on the edge of our seats.
And the bells–oh, the bells! It’s not possible to spend much time in any of Mexico’s colonial towns or cities without being barraged by the bells. But what a barrage! To be true to the sounds of Mexico, the bells had their moment to shine in the Mexico 2010 Symphonic Suite.
This concert on September 1st was recorded. I’m hoping that they may sell CDs of the concert–but I have no concrete word on that. I’ll update here, whenever they may be on sale!
Until then, here’s part of Arturo Rodriguez’s Maximiliano and Carlota, performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra in 2015:
Very evocative of that era!
For those unfamiliar with Mexican history, click the link to read about the story. It’s best read while listening to this piece!