Three free concerts add luster to this year’s International Music Festival

By Camie Sands

In late-breaking news, Dirk Bakker, president of this year’s 36th annual San Miguel International Music Festival, said, “We are happy to report that a grant from the State of Guanajuato will enable the festival to present three free concerts of the highest quality.”

Alberto Cruzprieto will give the first of the three free concerts, on Saturday, August 2, at 7pm, at the Teatro Ángela Peralta. He is one of Mexico’s most admired classical pianists, and one of its foremost musical ambassadors. The Mexico City native has demonstrated his versatility on more than 27 compact discs, and in 2001 was nominated for a Latin Grammy. Cruzprieto’s piano recital will range from Romantic music from the pens of Frédéric Chopin and Gabriel Fauré, to the more contemporary music of Alberto Ginastera, Olivier Messiaen, and George Gershwin.

Tembembe Ensemble Continuo was one of the most enthusiastically received performers during last year’s festival. They return to perform on Sunday, August 3, at 5pm. The group was formed 17 years ago to explore the historical links between Mexican “son” and other musical tendencies, including Spanish “son” of the 17th century and native Americans’ African roots. Tembembe’s dynamic musicianship offers new possibilities for enjoyment for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Their tours in Malaysia, South Korea, Colombia, Europe and the United States have demonstrated the exuberant universality of their music.

Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanski and Mexican actress Sophie Alexander-Katz will perform together in the third and final free concert, on Friday, August 8, at 7pm, at the Teatro Angela Peralta. In previous outings of their dual program, entitled “Sonnets and Serenades,” Alexander-Katz recited poetry both Latin American (e.g., Jaime Sabines and Luis Urbina) and European (e.g., Thomas Wyatt and William Shakespeare), to the accompaniment of Szymanski’s appropriately themed performances on guitar. Szymanski, who has been highlighted as “One to Watch” by Gramophone magazine, started playing the guitar at the age of six. Early studies at Mexico’s National School of Music led to a scholarship at the Royal College of Music in London, from which he graduated in 2004 with honors. Sophie Alexander was born in Mexico City and received her theatrical training in Mexico, at the Casa del Teatro, and in London, at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Her acting career has spanned theater, film, and television. She was nominated for Best Actress at the Monte Carlo International Television Festival.

Tickets are available for the 36th annual San Miguel International Music Festival’s eight premier concerts, beginning on July 31 with the Borromeo String Quartet, and concluding on August 23 with the Claremont Trio. Those tickets, which range from 150 to 450 pesos, may be purchased now at the Angela Peralta box office. For more information, call the festival office at (415) 154-8722, or visit

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