Dynamic Opening Weekend for the San Miguel International Music Festival
By Dirk Bakker
The San Miguel International Music Festival, now its 38th year, has become predictable in the best sense—in concert after concert, the musicianship has been dependably at the highest level. In past seasons, the opening weekend has also been rather predictable; usually a string ensemble playing, say, Haydn quartets and other gilt-edged standards from the storehouse of Western classical music. There’s nothing wrong with that, and undoubtedly we will have such opening weekends again.
Within the San Miguel International Music Festival
Fri and Sat, Jul 29 and 30, 7pm
Teatro Ángela Peralta
But this season, which commences with two concerts on Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30, is different. The Friday concert features a saxophone quartet, a type of ensemble that has surprised and captivated audiences for 150 years, thanks to its rich, euphonious, almost orchestral sound, while the Saturday concert features an all-star group of musicians playing flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. Audiences will hear numerous works never previously performed in San Miguel de Allende, including one major work that has never before been played in concert in the entire Western Hemisphere, and another work receiving its world premiere.
Anacrúsax, the saxophone quartet ensemble performing on July 29, was founded in 1998, and is considered the leading ensemble of its kind in all of Mexico. Its repertoire ranges from classical to popular music, with particular emphasis on contemporary works by Mexican composers. The ensemble has performed throughout Latin America, in Europe, and at major festivals around the world, including Sax Fest in Costa Rica and the Festival International de Musique Universitaire in Belfort, France.
ONIX Ensamble, which performs on July 30, was founded in 1996 by avant-garde flutist Alejandro Escuer. The group is dedicated to promoting the best of contemporary music, especially new Latin American music, including many works the ensemble has commissioned from prestigious composers. ONIX has toured extensively in Mexico, the United States, South America, and Asia.
Anacrúsax will be performing both original works and transcriptions, some of which include a part for piano, which will be handled by esteemed concert pianist Edith Ruíz. The entire second half of the program is devoted to a work that, apart from a single movement, has never been performed in concert outside of Japan: The Planets, by Jun Nagao (born 1964), freely adapted from the Gustav Holst orchestral suite of the same name. Nagao, an award-winning composer, was commissioned in 2004 to arrange Holst’s The Planets for sax quartet and piano, for a CD. He added three movements of his own— Comets, Pluto, and the Earth—to Holst’s familiar lineup of Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. Nagao’s Planets is ingeniously scored and filled with delightful musical puns.
The ONIX concert will include the world premiere of Víctor Ibarra’s Química del Agua; and In Medias Res, a composition by noted American composer Don Freund, dedicated to ONIX. Freund will be in attendance at the July 30 concert.
All concerts are at 7:00pm at the Teatro Ángela Peralta. Tickets can be purchased at the theater box office or online. For more information, visit festivalsanmiguel.com.