Behind the Program: Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería
Every opportunity we have to introduce new artists, ensembles, and repertoire to Ann Arbor becomes a highlight on a UMS performance season. This year, we are especially proud to welcome a number of debuts on our October 27 presentation of Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería, widely regarded as a top ensemble and musical institution in Mexico.
Discover the debuting artists and the music behind this program, which includes works that have never been performed before on a UMS presentation:
Meet the Artists
Carlos Miguel Prieto
Carlos Miguel Prieto is considered the leading Mexican conductor of his generation. A highly respected cultural leader, Prieto is Musical America’s 2019 Conductor of the Year. He possesses a wide-ranging repertoire, has led over 100 world premieres, and is a champion of American and Latin American composers.
In addition to his role as Artistic Director of Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería, Prieto serves as Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director of North Carolina Symphony, and Music Director of the Orchestra of the Americas. Prieto is a graduate of Princeton University and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Latin Grammy Award-winning pianist/composer Gabriela Montero’s visionary interpretations and unique compositional gifts have garnered her critical acclaim and a devoted following on the world stage. Celebrated for her exceptional musicality and unique ability to improvise, Montero has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras, and is a frequent collaborator with maestro Prieto.
While it is true that improvisation is more frequently associated with pianists belonging to the realms of jazz and popular music than with concert pianists, a substantial part of Gabriela Montero’s well-earned prestige comes from her great gift as an improviser. On that subject, she has stated:
I connect with my audience in a unique manner, and the audience connects with me. Since improvisation is a big part of who I am, it is the most natural and spontaneous way for me to express myself.
On the program with Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería, she will perform her own Concierto Latino for piano and orchestra. Completed in 2016, the concerto is a tribute to the diverse and rich cultures of Latin America, as well as a reflection of the challenges and struggles that some of its nations face. The concerto has three movements: Mambo, Habanera, and Joropo, each inspired by a different musical genre and rhythm from the region. The concerto showcases Montero’s virtuosic, expressive, and individualized piano playing, as well as her ability to blend classical and popular elements in a coherent and captivating way.
Here is a video of her performing the work from 2019, with Carlos Miguel Prieto and the Orchestra of the Americas:
More On the Program
Gabriela Ortiz Kauyumari
Latin Grammy nominated Gabriela Ortiz is one of the foremost composers in Mexico today, and one of the most vibrant musicians emerging in the international scene. Her musical language achieves an extraordinary and expressive synthesis of tradition and the avant-garde; combining high art, folk music and jazz in novel, frequently refined and always personal ways.
In Kauyumari, she explores aspects of aboriginal cultures and contrasting them with aspects of the modern world. She writes:
Among the Huichol people of Mexico, Kauyumari means “blue deer”. The blue deer represents a spiritual guide, one that is transformed through an extended pilgrimage into a hallucinogenic cactus called peyote. It allows the Huichol to communicate with their ancestors, do their bidding, and take on their role as guardians of the planet. Each year, these native Mexicans embark on a symbolic journey to “hunt” the blue deer, making offerings in gratitude for having been granted access to the invisible world, through which they also are able to heal the wounds of the soul. When I received the commission from the Los Angeles Philharmonic to compose a piece that would reflect on our return to the art stages following the pandemic, I immediately thought of the blue deer and its power to enter the world of the intangible as akin to a celebration of the reconvening of live music.
The world premiere of Kauyumari took place on October 9th, 2021, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. The following excerpt of the work is courtesy of the New York Philharmonic.
Carlos Chávez Symphony No. 2 (“Sinfonía India”)
It can be said without exaggeration that Carlos Chávez’s Sinfonía India is the best known and appreciated Mexican symphonic work in the United States. In the winter of 1935-1936, Chávez paid one of his many visits to the United States, and the Sinfonía India was born from an invitation to conduct a concert for the Columbia Broadcasting System. The work was written in New York between the end of 1935 and the beginning of 1936 and was first performed by Chávez himself conducting the CBS Orchestra on January 23rd, 1936. Among the first (of many) famous international conductors who soon took up Chávez’s Sinfonía India, special mention should be made of Leopold Stokowski, who wrote a letter to the composer asking for the score only five months after the work’s premiere.
Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería’s percussion section is known for its technical mastery, which will be on full display in this work! Sinfonía India’s orchestration includes a full suite of indigenous percussion instruments, in addition to familiar instruments such as tympani, tenor drum, cymbals, xylophone, and claves.
Silvestre Revueltas La noche de los mayas
La noche de los Mayas is a symphonic suite by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, based on his film score for the 1939 movie of the same name. The film explores Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage and culture, and the suite consists of four movements, each depicting a different aspect of the Mayan civilization.
The first movement, “Noche de los Mayas” (Night of the Mayas), is a slow and mysterious introduction. The second movement, “Noche de Jaranas” (Night of the Revelry), is a lively dance with complex rhythms. The third movement, “Noche de Yucatán” (Yucatán Night), is a lyrical and expressive nocturne that features an authentic Mayan melody. The final movement, “Noche de encantamiento” (Night of Enchantment), is a theme and variations that showcases the rich and colorful percussion section, which includes instruments such as bongos, congas, rattles, güiro, caracol, and tumkul.
La noche de los Mayas is a brilliant example of Revueltas’s fusion of Mexican folk elements and modern orchestral techniques.
Hear the Performance
Join us for the UMS debut of these spectacular artists, Friday, October 27 at 7:30 pm in Hill Auditorium!
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