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The Chamber Music Festival is coming soon

By Jesús Aguado

The 37th San Miguel International Chamber Music Festival is growing. This year it will feature audience favorites, and the Wednesday concerts will include receptions with the musicians at Bellas Artes after the performances.

This year, the festival will take place in the intimacy of the Ángela Peralta Theater with its incomparable acoustics. This venue has room for the most diverse audiences to enjoy world class ensembles and the piano virtuosity of Daniel Rodríguez and Claudio Herrera. This 37th festival also brings the magical sounds of Chee-Yun/Sutter/Paremsky Trío and the Hermitage Piano Trio.

Daniela Ahlenius, administrative director of the festival, commented that in past years Sanmiguelenses have had the wrong idea that this is a festival for a “select” public. To the contrary, she advises “it is for all the public who love music.” That is why this year the festival includes more Mexican musicians to attract the Mexican community. She added this year they will feature young musicians who will perform themes from the classics (Bach, Beethoven, or Schubert) as well as contemporary compositions from Don Davis, Thomas Adés, Jud Greenstein, and Gabriela Lena Frank, among others. In addition, students from the Celaya Conservatory of Music will come to San Miguel for master classes on music from the visiting quartets and duos. This time the classes will not be open to the general public as they were in the past. Occasionally, visitors and locals will be delighted to hear these students playing music in bars, restaurants, or public venues during the August festival.

Wednesday’s concerts

The new Wednesday concerts will have accessible prices (200 pesos per person) and quality musicians. The concerts will be held on August 5, 12, and 19 at 7pm. After the events, the attendees will be welcome to attend a reception at the Bellas Artes building for a cocktail—included in their ticket.

The concert series in the middle of the week will start with the Daniel Rodríguez Duo. The pianist Rodriguez is from Merida, Yucatán, and studied at the Mexican Conservatory of Music as well as at the Hochschule Fûr und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna (Vienna University of Music). Since 1988 he has offered recitals in Austria, France, United States, and Mexico as a soloist and has performed with symphonies from Guadalajara, Puebla, Yucatán, and San Luis Potosí, among others. A few years ago he started a duo with his son, Daniel Rodríguez (violin).

On August 12, for the first time, Claudio Herrera will perform for the festival. One of the concertmasters at Bellas Artes, Herrera studied music in Italy, France, and Ukraine under professors Monique Debus, Ugo Cividino, Vlado Perlemuter, Sergei Polusmiak, and Catherine Thibon. To celebrate 30 years as a musician, he gave a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. He has also performed in Chicago and Washington, and in 2012 he toured in Russia, Ecuador, Germany, and Cuba.

Weekend concerts

The Chamber Music Festival will open on Friday, July 31, with the Calder String Quartet, made up of Benjamin Jacobson, violin; Andrew Bulbrook, violin; Jonathan Moerschel, (viola); and Erick Byers (cello). This quartet arrives in San Miguel with strength, spontaneity, and maturity that can be felt and heard in their extensive repertoire that extends from the classics to the contemporaries. The New York Times has catalogued them as “outstanding” and “supreme.” The Boston Globe reviewed them after a concert and pronounced, “Performances like these—freshly rethought, impeccably played—do more than provide enjoyable listening. They reveal hidden dimensions, renew a bond with the composer, and justify the continuance of familiar works in the repertory.” The quartet’s second presentation will take place the very next day and, according to Ahlenius, will be totally different from the first one. A requirement for the ensembles is that they must offer two totally different programs during their concerts.

On August 7 and 8, directly from Russia, the Chee-Yun/Sutter/Paremsky Trio will perform. This is one of the newest and youngest groups at the festival. The young women are outstanding soloists.

On August 14 and 15, the Parker Quartet will perform. The festival will close on Friday and Saturday, August 21 and 22, with the Hermitage Piano Trio. The official webpage of the quartet states the trio descends from a significant Russian musical tradition and is distinguished by exuberant musicality and sumptuous sound. The Hermitage Trio embodies the majesty of its Russian lineage and at the same time includes in its immense repertoire works covering the great European tradition to contemporary American commissions.

History of the Festival

In 1970, several musicians arrived in town, among them Tom Sawyer, a cellist for the San Francisco Symphony. Over time these musicians became acquainted, and in 1978 they had the idea to hold a chamber music festival at the Ángela Peralta Theater under Carmen Masip’s direction, financed by donations. “They decided on chamber music because the ensembles are small and easier to coordinate than a whole symphony orchestra,” said Antonio Cabrero, former executive director of the festival.

The organizers of the festival “had contacts around the world, and it turned out that some of the most important quartets in the world wanted to come to San Miguel, at greatly reduced fees. Thus began a romance between San Miguel de Allende and great musicians,” Cabrero added.

The San Miguel International Chamber Music Festival will be held from Friday, July 31, to Saturday, August 22. Tickets are available at the theater box office, with prices ranging from 175 to 525 pesos.



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