Great Mexican Music in Houston
The Baroque Music Festival is proud to announce that it will be represented at the “Houston Celebrates Mexico 2010” events in Houston Texas on September 3-4, 2010. As part of a year of events marking the Bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence and the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, a “Mini Festival” of concerts and activities have been accepted by the Consulate General of Mexico in Houston, with the support of Bank of America.
Celebrating the rich tradition of Mexican music, The Baroque Music Festival’s Resident Ensemble Camerata Ventapane Houston has collaborated with the University of St. Thomas to present a weekend festival of musical events that will inform, entertain, and enrich. These programs are inspirations from our recent 4th International Baroque Music Festival in Mexico, a ten day series of events produced annually in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. Featured artists in this weekend celebration in Houston will be renowned cellist Carlos Prieto and composer Javier Alvarez, in addition to young musicians from both sides of the border. This will be an unusual opportunity to experience outstanding musical talent as a part of Houston Celebrates Mexico 2010.
Javier Alvarez. Mexican composer, educator, and recipient of many international awards, he is dean of the school of music, Conservatorio de las Rosas, in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, the oldest Music Conservatory in the Western Hemisphere.
Apollo Chamber Players. A consortium of dynamic young virtuosi that includes co-founders violinists Matthew Detrick and Timothy Peters, Apollo violist Matthew Carrington, and cellist Matthew Dudzik as festival performers.
Robert Brewer. Well known Houston organist-pianist-composer-choirmaster, Mr. Brewer lends his considerable talent to the Literary and Musical Evening in concert with Carlos Prieto.
Cecilia Duarte, Mexican mezzo-soprano, a frequent collaborator with Mexican composer Alberto Espino. Ms. Duarte is known to Houston audiences for her work with Houston Grand Opera and as soloist in other local venues.
Brady Knapp. Dr. Knapp is Professor of Choral and Vocal Studies at St. Thomas University. He is leader of the University Singers, Pop Singers, the St. Thomas Chamber Singers, head of the University’s Opera Workshop, and developer of a program in Pedagogy. He conducts choir concerts in the U.S. and abroad.
Carlos Prieto, internationally renowned cellist, author, raconteur, and winner of awards from heads of governments. Mr. Prieto is a prolific contributor to the flow of music throughout the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and the Far East. He has written seven books, premiered scores of compositions (many dedicated to him), and his discography includes more than ninety compositions.
The University of St. Thomas Chamber Singers. A small, select group of singers made up of students, local professionals and University of St. Thomas music alumni, and directed by Dr. Brady Knapp.
Weekend Festival Program
All events occur at The University of St. Thomas
Friday, September 3rd Cullen Hall, 7:30 pm
A Literary and Musical Evening
Free to students, faculty, and the public.
Presentation of the Book, ‘Adventures of a Cello,’ by its author, Carlos Prieto.
Cello and Piano Recital: Carlos Prieto, chelo, and Robert Brewer, piano.
Reception & Book Signing in the lobby by Mr. Prieto, sponsored by the River Oaks Bookstore
Saturday, September 4th 6:00 pm - 9pm
Cullen Hall, 6:00pm
Pre-Concert Lecture, Dawn and Sunset: Contemporary Music by Mexican Composers, by Dr. Javier Alvarez. Free to students, faculty, and the public.
St. Basil Chapel, 7:00pm
Music From the Baroque and Other Treasures Composed for the Cathedrals of Mexico. The University St. Thomas Chamber Singers and soloists, conducted by Dr. Brady Knapp. Free to students, faculty, and the public.
Jones Hall Patio, 7:45pm
Reception and refreshments al fresco. Cooling fruit drinks and botanas Mexicanas. Sponsored by the Mexican Tourism Office. Free to students, faculty, and the public.
The following events require a purchased Gala Ticket:
Jones Hall, 8:15pm
Gala Concert, Contemporary Classical and Popular Music. Two String Quartets composed by Dr. Javier Alvarez, performed by the Apollo Chamber Players. A Medley of Songs composed by Alberto Espino, sung by mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte, accompanied by the composer on the piano. A finale with Ms. Duarte, the Apollo Chamber Players, and Mr. Espino.
Crooker Center, 9:00pm
Gala Dinner. A chance to meet the artists and enjoy Margaritas and a dinner menu of Mexican delicacies, served with a selection of Mexican wines.
At first sight the five gallantly dressed gents, who hustled out of their dressing-room onto a patio of the Casa de Cultura, looked like unruly royalty from the 17th century. Their fancy frock coats, lace cravats, black trousers cleverly rolled up into breeches so that their white stockings could be seen, were all undermined by wigs that hinted at the fun to come. One wig was brown and furiously unkempt; another was a massive cotton bundle stacked high on the head of the shortest performer before us. As the whirlwind of clowning and high spiriting began, Metales M5 quickly took a musical hold on the audience and it was instantly obvious that these guys really know how to blow their horns.
The public, on that evening of July 18th, filled the patio and a long veranda of the Casa de Cultura, perched upon a rocky rise of the Bajada del Chorro. They had come to hear five splendid musicians from Morelia known as “Metales M5.” These gentlemen, forming a brass quintet, were appearing at the invitation of San Miguel’s Baroque Music Festival, and demonstrated to the young and inspiring musicians in the audience, the delights of playing a brass instrument.
But the brass was not only in their instruments. The leader and spokesman, Alexander Freund (piccolo trumpet), chats and chatters in fluent Spanish, introducing and commenting on selections from Bach and Mozart to Zarzuelas, Broadway shows, and film scores from the musical troves of Mexico. His comrades (Oscar Villegas, trumpet; Juan Carlos Quitero, French horn; Fernando Islas, trombone; and Jose Lopez Juarez ,tuba) join in antics like collapsing to the floor, bawling a bit of “O Solo Mio,” dueling with trumpets—all very rousing for an audience. But when the gentlemen play, they reveal filigree breath-control and a virtuosity that has crowned them—in the words of critics and peers from Canada to Chiapas—as “the finest Brass Ensemble in all of Mexico.” Metales M5 called their performance a “Didactic Concert,” and indeed it was a teaching experience that was highly interactive and executed with an enormous amount humor and expertise.
The Casa de Cultura offers two brass band classes as well as classes in a variety of other musical instruments and art forms. The Baroque Festival has several community outreach projects which have lead to diverse associations with children in schools and orphanages; university students pursuing culinary and hotel careers; the consortium of local
restaurants and tourist enterprises, many churches in town, and the every growing contemporary arts community. Inspiring, promoting and presenting cultural experiences for all of the people of San Miguel is the devotion of all of the Baroque Music festival events.
San Miguel de Allende has several hidden and abandoned historical and cultural treasures: Six historic organs that used to be at the center of the musical life of the city up to the middle of the last century.
The San Miguel Baroque Music Festival has created interest in restoring these jewels, and as a first step the Festival organized a seminar on organ restoration on May 13th of this year. This seminar took place at the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri complex and was enriched by the participation of three representatives from INAH (The National Institute of Anthropology and History), by four representative from the Institute of Historic Organs in Oaxaca, by several representatives of the guild of organ players in Mexico, by representatives of the main churches holding historic organs in San Miguel, and by representatives of the city government. The representatives from INAH talked about the requirements that need to be fulfilled for a restoration project to be approved, while the Director of the Institute of Historic Organs in Oaxaca shared her experiences with successful and not so successful organ restoration projects in other parts of Mexico. Organ players also shared their experiences with restored organs in Mexico and their valuable opinions regarding the requirements of a successful restoration project. Finally, the priests from San Felipe Neri and Atotonilco presented their plans to reintroduce quality music in religious services through the restored organs. The board of the Baroque Music Festival hopes that San Miguel’s organs come to life again after several decades of silence, making our city a Mecca for people who appreciate the unique and noble sound of these instruments. The response to this seminar was immediate, serving to underscore the genuine concern for these instruments.
Music and art are important in the Mexican culture and experts assert that music is an important part of child development, but music experiences in pre-school are often haphazard at best. Children may sing the national anthem and their school song at the beginning of each school day, but music education, beyond the simple songs sung by the students, is basically non-existent in the world of the orphans and the children of the disadvantaged districts in and around San Miguel.
The MELODIA program offered by the Baroque Music Festival, is the first comprehensive music program offered to San Miguel’s disadvantaged children. In 2009, the Festival invited the children from the Sta. Julia orphanage and the CASA day care center to participate in a music appreciation workshop conducted by Dr. Ana Treviño-Godfrey. Dr. Ana Trevino-Godfrey is a classically trained professional singer and mother of two, who earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the prestigious Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. She has taught children of all ages from infancy to professional levels, including teaching at Interlochen Arts Camp, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Rice University and Rice University’s Preparatory Summer Vocal Camp. In 2007, her love of music and children inspired her to create Prelude Music Classes for Children. She is a registered Music Together® teacher, and is a founding member and Soprano soloist with Mercury Baroque. Ana’s workshop was so well received that the Festival recruited her to help establish a music appreciation curriculum for the newly conceived outreach program MELODIA, which would provide on-going training for the children and additional workshops and training for the caretakers to work with the children on a daily basis (not just during the week of the festival).
The MELODIA pilot was officially launched during the 2010 Festival with the first of a four-part teacher training program held at the Mexiquito orphanage. The first MELODIA teacher-training workshop, “Nurturing children through Music”, armed 10 caretakers from the local orphanages (Sta. Julia, Mexiquito, Don Bosco, Los Angeles, and CASA daycare center) with an easy to follow curriculum and exercises for children ages 2-6. Dr. Ana conducted the workshop, and gave each caretaker their own set of instruments and music CDs for daily practice with their students.
Soprano, Cecily Duarte from the Houston Grand Opera conducting the music appreciation workshop with the children, presented a storybook Opera called "Alma la Gata de la Opera". The pre-school age children from all of the local orphanages were invited to participate.
The MELODIA program seeks to:
- provide affordable, accessible and professional music instruction to pre-school age children on a regular basis.
- create an atmosphere that embraces music awareness, diversity and innovation in the learning space.
- use effective instructional resources and on-going assessment to improve the learning process.
The Art Foundation Enrique Fernández Martínez, A.C. and the Festival of Baroque Music of San Miguel de Allende, A.C. have decided to contribute in academic and cultural aspects. For this, the two non profit organizations have signed a collaboration agreement so as to exchange personnel and experience in the fields of education, investigation and culture in general. Rodolfo Fernández Martínez Harris, President and General Director of the Art Foundation Enrique Fernández Martínez, A.C. and Rodrigo Antonio Treviño Lozano, General Director of the Festival of Baroque Music of San Miguel de Allende, A.C. signed the Collaboration Agreement on the 21st of September, 2009. This agreement shall be in effect for two years and can be extended implicitly for other equal periods of time. Both non profit organizations are united in their interests and purposes in the academic and cultural fields, which will allow them to provide continuous formation to the academic and cultural personnel of institutions and organizations in the municipality of Allende, giving them the opportunity to work with experts in disciplines related to music. The idea also is to establish communication channels that will allow the development of knowledge and appreciation of music to educators and academics of this region.