35th Chamber Music Festival: A gift to San Miguel of 19 free performances

By Camie Sands

“During the festival, which begins today and runs through Saturday, August 17, our town will have the chance to experience 28 concerts and recitals, of which 19 are free. In our 35th year, we have finally been able to do what we’ve always wanted to do – but did not have the resources to – and that is to create a festival that is accessible to everyone who wants to experience the thrill of world-class music played up-close and personal,” said Dirk Bakker, president of the festival this year.

Ensō String Quartet
Bartok, Mozart, Grieg
Boccherini, Janácek, Beethoven
Chamber Music Festival
Fri & Sat, Jul 26 & 27, 7pm
Teatro Ángela Peralta
150 pesos

Tonight and Saturday, the Enso String Quartet will open the festival with a Gala Concert starting at 7pm in the Teatro Ángela Peralta. The quartet recently received a Grammy nomination for Best Chamber Music Performance and has quickly become one of the most exciting young musical ensembles in North America. “They continue to expand their worldwide reputation as ‘simply hot,’” said Bakker, who helped select music programs for this year’s festival and is pleased the Enso will play from Bartok, Mozart and Grieg Friday night, then Boccherini, Janacek and Beethoven on Saturday.

In the coming week the 35th Anniversary Concerts series begins, presenting free concerts thanks to a grant from CONACULTA, Mexico’s office of cultural affairs. “This grant is like a gift to the city of San Miguel. Just come out and enjoy the music,” said Bakker. The first of the Anniversary Concerts is Wednesday, July 31, by Trio de Las Americas, which has been together since 1997 and is featured in the Cervantino Festival and other important Mexican arts and music festivals. This ‘mature’ piano, violin and cello trio will play selections by Schumann, Haendel-Halvorsen, Kenji Bunch and Elena Katz-Chernin starting at 7pm at the Teatro Ángela Peralta.

The following evening, La Fontegra will present a complimentary concert. The players specialize in the historic interpretation of 16th and 17th-century Mexican music using replicas of the original instruments including the harpsichord, transmitting the Viceregal repertoire of New Spain. They will play pieces from Telemann, C. Ph. E. Bach, Códice Saldívar and Boismortier, also at the Teatro Ángela Peralta at 7pm.

Gala Concerts return Friday and Saturday, August 2 and 3, by the Daedalus String Quartet, which will perform Britten, Beethoven and Haydn Friday night and Mendelssohn, Schulhoff and Smetana on Saturday with what is characterized as a ‘youthful and buoyant sound.’ “This stellar group has performed in the world’s leading musical venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and in leading halls in Japan. Be sure to see them for their San Miguel debut,” said Bakker, “as they are in demand all over the world and we might have a hard time bringing them back.”

Saturday, August 3, Camino Silvestre will host a complimentary Anniversary Recital at 2pm in the patio at Correo 43 under the direction of Festival Artistic Director, Dr. Alejandro Escuer and his Academic Program, playing from the classics to contemporary selections. “This is a great chance to get to know Mexico’s young up-and-coming and soon-to-be professionals who will influence the future of music in this country and beyond,” commented Bakker about the Anniversary Academic Recital series.

Starting the week of Sunday, August 4, at Hotel Imperio Angeles, will be a brunch featuring a free concert of Baroque music at noon by Alvaro Díaz and Eunice Padilla.

For a completely different sound, attend Onix Ensamble’s free concert at the Teatro Angela Peralta Sunday afternoon at 6pm. The festival’s artistic director, Dr. Alejandro Escuer, professor of music at UNAM, founded the Onix Ensamble in 1993, and it has become an acclaimed group of Mexican musicians dedicated to promoting Latin American contemporary music across the world. The ensemble consists of flute, clarinet, piano, violin and viola. This year the group will interpret Ginastera, Ortiz, Luna and Currier. “Their festival concert last year brought the audience to its feet. Don’t miss this chance to hear something new,” said Bakker. “And this just represents the first 10 days of the festival. We really heat up heading into our final weeks. Go ahead and wear yourself out with great music. This year it’s a feast – plan to partake of it all!” concluded Bakker.

Tickets for the pay-to-see Gala Concerts start at 150 pesos for balcony seating (which now offers individual seats instead of benches) and are sold at the Teatro Ángela Peralta box office. For more information on all concerts, music programs and group profiles see festivalsanmiguel.com 154-8722, the office is in the Bellas Artes on the second floor.

Camie Sands is the past president of the Board of Directors, San Miguel Chamber Music Festival (2008-2012)


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