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SMA International Symphony turns J. Strauss Perpetuum Mobile into Perpetuum Clapping

By Robbie Martin

An enthusiastic audience joined the orchestra Thursday, February 6, in the Teatro Angela Peralta, in a surprise encore, serving as the percussion section. Once Maestro Antonio Cabrero started the audience, they playfully sustained rhythmic clapping from start to end of the piece. The surprise factor here is that neither orchestra nor audience wanted to stop, and the piece had to be played two and half times! The Maestro is convinced that Strauss found, in music and tempo, the perfect equivalent to the physical laws of inertia and perpetual motion as audience and orchestra couldn’t stop playing together, and even the Maestro himself had to force his arm to stop conducting. Of course then the audience had to clap even more because this was the last piece of the concert.

The repertoire in the first half of the concert ranged from Rameau (French Baroque) to Delius, then the fabulous “Skaters” waltz by Waldteufel, in celebration of the start of the Olympic winter games. Maestro Cabrero enlightened us that the “forest devil” (wald=forest and teufel=devil) was actually French, and his legal name was Charles Émile Lévy, but he loved his adopted family name and will forever be known in immortality as Émile Waldteufel.

A very exciting second half presented the Presidential Polonaise by Souza, commissioned by President Chester A. Arthur, who unfortunately died before it was performed. Maestro Cabrero explained that apparently the president told Souza he didn’t like (hated) “Hail to the Chief” and Souza understood, so he wrote a polonaise, which is a dance form from Poland in three-quarter time, rather than a march in four-four time. The US Marine Band and others only play it as a march because that’s what they do as soldiers!

Finally, we heard the icing on the cake: a splendid and romantic rendition of selections from “Showboat” by Jerome Kern. After all, “Why Do I Love You?”, “You Are Love” and “Make Believe” couldn’t be more perfect music for the month of February.

For those unfamiliar with the San Miguel International Symphony, we should explain that last April, top musicians from several countries, actually principals and concert masters of important orchestras in Mexico, were invited to San Miguel by Maestro Cabrero to form a world class ensemble that will represent San Miguel and perform year-round in our city.

So if you love orchestral ensembles, don’t miss the opportunity to hear the next performance of our own San Miguel International Symphony (SMIS), to enjoy great classics played in an accessible repertoire with explanations and anecdotes.


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