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The Big Band Returns to San Miguel

By Beverly Russell

The Pro Musica symphony concert on Sunday January 29, at 5 p.m., closes a four-year absence of full orchestral performances at the Teatro Ángela Peralta, and brings the Sinfonieta Potosina back to San Miguel. The Sinfonieta, which played to a sell-out concerts last year, including a highly successful Garden Party performance to be reprised this coming March, returns with an expanded 28-musician orchestra and a program of symphonic excitement. This larger contingent of musicians allows for solo concertos to be presented. Jason Pettit’s interpretation of Haydn’ s famous Trumpet Concerto last fall was the start of this more ambitious programming. With an even grander orchestra and the 400-seat theater, the upcoming concert offers a veritable feast of concertos: two for French Horn and one for Cello.

Concert: Pro Musica Concert Series, Sinfonieta Potosina. Sun, Jan 29, 5pm. Teatro Ángela Peralta. 100/200/300/350 pesos.,

Under the baton of Maestro Antonio Cabrera the evening is packed with familiar melodies. It begins with Haydn’ s Symphony No. 104, known as The London. This work, written in 1795, with its graceful Minuetto and Trio third movement, conjures up all the aristocratic courtliness of the Georgian era.

It is followed by two Mozart Horn Concertos; No. l in D Major and No. 4 in E Flat Major, performed by soloist Mauricio Soto. This performance completes the Sinfonieta’s cycle of all four of Mozart’ s horn concertos for Pro Musica over the last two years. Concerto No. 4, known as The Hunt, written in 1784, preceded Mozart’ s String Quartet in B Flat Major, also known as The Hunt, composed in 1786, (actually the soubriquets were given post-compositionally by Mozart aficionados). Both works have an outdoorsy, rustic character, and unforgettable melodies full of joyfulness and energy. The British virtuoso French Horn player Dennis Brain (1921-1957) put the No. 4 Concerto on the map in his time, and it is a major part of every professional horn players’ repertoire. Soloist Soto, born in Uruguay, started his career in the Montevideo Philharmonic, and then became Associate Principal at the famous Teatro Colon Orchestra in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He came to Mexico as Co-Principal of the National Symphony of Mexico and is currently Principal Horn in the Querétaro Philharmonic. He remains active as a teacher and concert artist in all these Latin-American countries. We can be certain that he will give the Mozart works a flourishing interpretation.

The second half of the concert comprises Camille Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, and Mendelssohn’ s Symphony No. 4 in A Major, known as The Italian. Many composers, including Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff, consider the Saint-Saens concerto the best ever written for the cello. There have been memorable interpretations by Mstislav Rostropovich and Yo Yo Ma. The soloist in this performance is the gifted American Michael Severens, a Bennington graduate who studied at the New England Conservatory. He first came to Mexico to play in the Mexico State Symphony under the baton of Maestro Enrique Batiz. He is now Associate Principal of the Guanajuato Symphony and frequently comes to San Miguel on weekends, a town that he says he is in love with above any other city in Mexico “or the world for that matter.”

The final item on the program, Mendelssohn’ s Italian Symphony, begins with a light, impressionistic feeling similar to his Midsummer Night’ s Dream overture. While Mendelssohn was influenced by a Grand Tour in Italy for this work, it was completed in Berlin and had its first performance with the composer conducting the London Philharmonic in London in 1833. Its four movements are joyful in mood and create a happy end to this ground-breaking orchestral concert.

Tickets for the Sinfonieta Potosina concert at Teatro Ángela Peralta, are available at La Tienda in the Biblioteca, Insurgentes 25; La Conexión, Aldama 3; BajioGo, Jesús 11; at St.Paul’ s Church Office, Calle Cardo 6; Teatro Ángela Peralta box office, Hernández Macías corner of Mesones, and at the door half an hour before the concert.

You can help Pro Musica continue to bring great concerts like the Sinfonieta Potosina to San Miguel by becoming a Patron Member, from as little as US$100 a year, which includes a range of benefits such as free tickets and suppers with the artists. Part of your donation also goes to fund Pro Musica’ s Education Outreach Program, which provides weekly music lessons to over 60 children in disadvantaged areas of the campo around San Miguel. Details of all Pro Musica’ s concerts and Patron Membership are on our website:, or contact us at

Beverly Russell,, is the author of several books on the arts. Her forthcoming book, Espacios, will be published shortly.

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