Latin American Composers

Started by Symphonic Addict, May 25, 2024, 09:34:00 AM

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Roasted Swan

Quote from: Brian on May 27, 2024, 06:09:21 AMLast fall I had the opportunity to interview the Dallas Symphony's program planner/artistic director and I gently asked her why they've only programmed one Latin American work in the last two years. I said something like, do you know how many people in Texas specifically will come into the concert hall to see that music? Literally 40% of the people who live here share that heritage. She said something about trying to balance all the different things everyone wants to hear... (Oh really? In that case why do we need to do all five Beethoven piano concertos every two years?) I said something about how the Latin American repertoire is so deep and so amazing that you could easily program a different piece every single month. Unfortunately she got hung up on "oh you can't introduce quotas, quotas are bad" rather than addressing the repertoire.

We had to move on to another subject for time reasons. She told me programming choices fall in four buckets: core rep to sell tickets, obscure passion projects and revivals of old works, new commissions and premieres, and contemporary music that has already premiered. Her particular focus as a planner is to scout out contemporary composers, make the new commissions, join commissioning groups with other orchestras (we teamed up with the LPO this year), and try to convince guest conductors to agree to perform whatever new piece. Then she balances that out with all the core rep to make sure people go.

By contrast, the obscure old music revivals/passion projects are artist directed. She doesn't want to impose her personal wishlist, so the revivals happen if a solo chair wants to do a concerto - like our harp player is doing Henriette Renie's harp concerto next year - or if a conductor has a special calling card - like Jakub Hrusa doing Mystery of Time or Fabio Luisi demanding Schmidt's Book of Seven Seals.

So even though I want to blame the planner for everything, I am accidentally starting to convince myself that the problem stems from conductors, soloists, etc. simply not knowing the Latino repertoire and not being taught it in schools. If pianists start learning Guarnieri concertos, conducting competitions start including Sensemaya, etc., maybe that's when change begins.

EDIT: Sensemaya would be a fiendish piece for a conducting competition with that time signature! They should all set it!

To the bolded text - I think you are essentially correct but I would go further.  Forums such as this - and the people who contribute here - tend to be interested in the highways and byeways of their own particular fields of interest - baroque to contemporary or film or whatever.  However, my experience of performing professionally is that most performers do not have a range of knowledge of repertoire.  Obviously there are many great exceptions to this - conductors who seek out the obscure and the unknown but many conductors seem to beleive they have to "prove" themselves in the core repertoire.  I know from first hand expereince that players in major orchestras and ensembles are completely ignorant of whole swathes of composers and their music.  That's partly education but also - to be fair - players are up to their ears learning the repertoire that is appearing in this coming concert/next week's concert to spend what little spare time they have listening to obscure music as well.

Likewise soloists and conductors have to weigh up - artistic considerations aside - how likely they are to be booked to play unknown music and quite literally is it commercially worth their while to learn complex music for one or two performances.  My feeling is that if the music is good enough it should be heard and as a performer I have always leant towards playing little known music.  In part simply because I feel I have more to say playing Bax than Beethoven.  And I don't want to be compared to all the greats playing Beethoven thankyou very much! (even if I felt I had anything to add to the existing knowledge of the music....)

Mirror Image

#21
Quote from: Roasted Swan on May 26, 2024, 11:24:24 PMYou are quite right - That Musica Mexicana box is a veritable treasure trove.  I assume it went out of print quite quickly just because of low sales.  You can still find the individual/original ASV releases if you hunt around - sometimes cheap often not.  The Naxos "Music of Brazil" series is very impressive I think - but of course in effect state sponsored hence the breadth and number of releases.  In the grander scheme what that must cost Brazil to underwrite is tiny compared to the global cultural outreach it has - even allowing for the tiny niche within a niche of CM fans who listen to Latin American music.

My personal bugbear (I think we all have a few of those!) is that institutions like the BBC Proms do not take advantage of their platform to promote this music which is appealing/attractive/accessible.  It also touches base with the "world music" remit that seems to be important to Proms Planners now.  I simply do not understand how anyone who is in that planning position cannot have heard/been impressed by this music and instantly include it in a season.

I think a lot of it stems from wanting to make money (i. e. filling seats) more than anything else. Considering how tight budgets are nowadays for the arts, I can understand from a financial point why orchestra boards are reluctant to perform more repertoire outside of what is known to us as the mainstream. This is why Beethoven and Brahms are on concert programs a lot (I love both of these composers' music of course), but, for many of us here on GMG (and other classical boards, too), it's just boring. On the other hand, something that doesn't make sense to me is if a US orchestra is going to promote a composer like Florence Price or William Grant Still, why not promote Villa-Lobos or Ginastera, too? It's the selectiveness due to whatever the latest political trend is from these orchestra boards which disappoints me the most. This is why I'm so thankful for the recorded medium. Imagine having to only rely on what your local orchestra is playing or even the radio to hear so much of this unusual repertoire or music that's off the well-trodden path.
"What was great about the '50s is that, for one brief moment - maybe, say, six weeks - nobody understood art." ― Morton Feldman

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Mirror Image on May 27, 2024, 07:43:19 AMI think a lot of it stems from wanting to make money (i. e. filling seats) more than anything else. Considering how tight budgets are nowadays for the arts, I can understand from a financial point why orchestra boards are reluctant to perform more repertoire outside of what is known to us as the mainstream. This is why Beethoven and Brahms are on concert programs a lot (I love both of these composers' music of course), but, for many of us here on GMG (and other classical boards, too), it's just boring. On the other hand, something that doesn't make sense to me is if a US orchestra is going to promote a composer like Florence Price or William Grant Still, why not promote Villa-Lobos or Ginastera, too? It's the selectiveness due to whatever the latest political trend is from these orchestra boards which disappoints me the most. This is why I'm so thankful for the recorded medium. Imagine having to only rely on what your local orchestra is playing or even the radio to hear so much of this unusual repertoire or music that's off the well-trodden path.

100% agreed

Symphonic Addict

I wish I could like those recordings of Salgado's symphonies, but the quality of the performances prevent me from giving them a proper try.
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Maestro267

Quote from: Symphonic Addict on May 27, 2024, 12:37:16 PMI wish I could like those recordings of Salgado's symphonies, but the quality of the performances prevent me from giving them a proper try.

Exactly the problem I have with them.

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Maestro267 on May 27, 2024, 11:00:02 PMExactly the problem I have with them.

Oh dear - I had a first dip yesterday and on CD1 there is some really rough playing.  Good old fashioned out of tune not together violas and blarty brass.  Not a good start.....

kyjo

Quote from: Roasted Swan on May 25, 2024, 10:52:05 AMI happened to listen to this disc again the other day;



Superficially it looks like a "pops" disc but actually - apart from being really well played! - its a well constructed programme with a couple of "pops" - Estancia/West Side Story Mambo etc - balanced by some really interesting and quite unusual repertoire.  Genuinely excellent and enjoyable.

This is a hugely enjoyable and expertly programmed disc - I love every work on it! Others have rightly singled out Castellanos' colorful Santa Cruz de Pacairigua, but the highlight of the disc for me is Inocente Carreño's Margariteña (1954). A 13-minute set of variations on a simple tune, its radiant, open-air joyousness is strikingly reminiscent of the music of GMG favorite Joly Braga Santos, who was composing his first four symphonies "across the pond" at around the same time. I, for one, would very much like to hear more of Mr. Carreño's music, but not much else has been recorded, and it's frustratingly difficult to find a catalogue of his compositions.

And, as others have mentioned, I find it quite disappointing how Dudamel has basically ignored Latin American music ever since recording this album way back in 2008. Just goes to show how once artists acquire international fame like Dudamel has, they often comfortably retire to a "safe" diet of Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, etc. instead of using their status to promote lesser-known music... ::)
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

kyjo

#27
Quote from: Roasted Swan on May 27, 2024, 07:00:21 AMTo the bolded text - I think you are essentially correct but I would go further.  Forums such as this - and the people who contribute here - tend to be interested in the highways and byeways of their own particular fields of interest - baroque to contemporary or film or whatever.  However, my experience of performing professionally is that most performers do not have a range of knowledge of repertoire.  Obviously there are many great exceptions to this - conductors who seek out the obscure and the unknown but many conductors seem to beleive they have to "prove" themselves in the core repertoire.  I know from first hand expereince that players in major orchestras and ensembles are completely ignorant of whole swathes of composers and their music.  That's partly education but also - to be fair - players are up to their ears learning the repertoire that is appearing in this coming concert/next week's concert to spend what little spare time they have listening to obscure music as well.

Likewise soloists and conductors have to weigh up - artistic considerations aside - how likely they are to be booked to play unknown music and quite literally is it commercially worth their while to learn complex music for one or two performances.  My feeling is that if the music is good enough it should be heard and as a performer I have always leant towards playing little known music.  In part simply because I feel I have more to say playing Bax than Beethoven.  And I don't want to be compared to all the greats playing Beethoven thankyou very much! (even if I felt I had anything to add to the existing knowledge of the music....)

Very much agree with this! As someone who's also pretty involved in the performance side of the classical music world, I can confirm that most other performing musicians are considerably less interested in/aware of non-standard repertoire than we are here in our GMG "bubble". In particular, many American orchestral musicians seem perfectly content with playing Beethoven 5 for the zillionth time and display a rather contemptuous attitude to music not written by "The Greats". ("How could it be good if I haven't heard of it?", etc.) I find that my fellow students as well as chamber musicians generally have a more open-minded attitude and broader knowledge when it comes to lesser-known music. On a positive note: for my two most recent recitals I performed the Kabalevsky Cello Sonata and the Finzi Cello Concerto (neither of which are commonly played), amongst other, more "standard" works. And, when I conversed with audience members afterwards (mostly fellow students), the vast majority said how much they particularly enjoyed the Kabalevsky and Finzi works and how they were the highlights of each program! :)
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Roasted Swan

Quote from: kyjo on May 28, 2024, 01:44:15 PMVery much agree with this! As someone who's also pretty involved in the performance side of the classical music world, I can confirm that most other performing musicians are considerably less interested in/aware of non-standard repertoire than we are here in our GMG "bubble". In particular, many American orchestral musicians seem perfectly content with playing Beethoven 5 for the zillionth time and display a rather contemptuous attitude to music not written by "The Greats". ("How could it be good if I haven't heard of it?", etc.) I find that my fellow students as well as chamber musicians generally have a more open-minded attitude and broader knowledge when it comes to lesser-known music. On a positive note: for my two most recent recitals I performed the Kabalevsky Cello Sonata and the Finzi Cello Concerto (neither of which are commonly played), amongst other, more "standard" works. And, when I conversed with audience members afterwards (mostly fellow students), the vast majority said how much they particularly enjoyed the Kabalevsky and Finzi works and how they were the highlights of each program! :)

This is off-thread (for which I apologise and won't do again!) but I wanted to respond directly here to Kyjo's post.  Brilliant that you are programming the Kabalevsky and Finzi - two genuinely towering works.

2 quick stories - different kind of repertoire, but when I used to run my own (professsional but small) orchestra and also conducted a reasonably good amateur orchestra I always tried to build programmes that combined the familiar with the unknown.  The familiar so that people could feel 'comfortable' with part of the programme instantly/in advance but the unfamiliar to demonstrate an equivalence - "you might not know this but isn't it just as good as familiar work "X" .  The problem is - and it is VERY deepseated - that even within the music written by a famous composer - say Tchaikovsky - the desire is to hear/play Symphonies 4-6 not 1-3 and there is almost zero curiosity about 1-3.  I suspect everyone on this forum is of the same mindset as me;  "ooh Tchaik 4-6 are great I wonder what 1-3 are like..." [insert own preferred genre here!]  The wider listening public are not curious and 4-6 are 'enough'.  Of course commercial radio stations could easily promote any work they so chose and through the endless repetition create familiarity.  In the UK Classic FM launched and made Gorecki 3 (2nd movement only mind!!) a key work so within a year it was a "pops" piece and the composer a familiar name.  They no longer play that piece so he has dropped off all their "best of" lists.

This next observation bothers me more....  A few years ago I was the guest of a composer at a concert of his music by a major Scandanavian orchestra conducted by an up and coming young German conductor.  The programme (aside from my friend's work) included DSCH 10.  The concert was a big success and at the reception afterwards the orchestra's manager/chairman was speaking to the conductor (I was standing there listening in) about coming back to do more concerts.  It was suggested that the conductor might like to do a Nielsen symphony...?  The conductor - without any sense of embarassment - explained that he had heard of Nielsen but had never listened to any of his music so could not say what he thought.  I was absolutely blown away that a young well-trained musically literate musician had never - even out of mild curiosity or interest - taken the time to hear ANY of the music of one of the 20th Century's most significant symphonists.  Fine if he'd said "I don't currently have any of those symphonies in my active repertoire" but to NOT KNOW them is flabbergasting.  Particularly in this age of ubiquity and ease of musical access.  For me that implies a sense of blinkered disinterest.  You need to be aware as a performer of the whole wide range of music to understand where the piece you are currently working on "fits".  No piece sits in splendid isolation musically or socially from the rest of the music around it.  Anyway - I have no idea if he ever did return to this orchestra and/or conduct Nielsen - if he did how could it have been anything except superficial......

Symphonic Addict

#29
Amazing how in this time where technology and the internet allow so many possibilities, still many people are reluctant to see and discover beyond their limited comfort zone. Well, good for them (or their bad), at least listeners like many of us don't have that narrow mind.
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Symphonic Addict

Enjoying this fresh release. The short Reisado do Pastoreio (A Pastoral Epiphany) contains the music with more Brazilian flavour, and oddly enough in the 3rd movement Batuque there is a gesture/rhythmic motive that reminded me of one of the first movement of Atterberg's Symphony No. 8. The Symphony No. 1 has more European influences, but it retains the Brazilian identity. A good work overall. The recording finishes with the most impressive work on it, the Symphony No. 2 O Caçador de Esmeraldas (The Emerald Hunter) which was  inspired by the life and death of the heroic 17th-century explorer Fernão Dias Paes Leme. It inhabits a more heroic sound world and the music conveys struggle and tragedy in places (the climax of the slow movement is quite powerful). Another interesting detail that intrigued me, regarding the two symphonies, was an uncanny similarity to Bax's style in the 4th movement from the Symphony No. 1 and in the 1st movement from the Symphony No. 2. There is something epic in the writing and use of the orchestra that brought that English composer to mind, not sure if others can perceive it as well.

Anyway, a worthwhile discovery, above all for the marvellous Symphony No. 2.

Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Mirror Image

Quote from: Symphonic Addict on May 29, 2024, 10:16:45 AMAmazing how in this time where technology and the internet allow so many possibilities, still many people are reluctant to see and discover beyond their limited comfort zone. Well, good for them (or their bad), at least listeners like many of us don't have that narrow mind.

I think a lot of boils down to exposure for many people. Even classical listeners who are supposedly "well versed" in this music have blindspots. But, yes, I do think there's an unwillingness to get beyond what someone knows simply because they feel that either the music won't be very good or that it may prove to be a waste of their time.
"What was great about the '50s is that, for one brief moment - maybe, say, six weeks - nobody understood art." ― Morton Feldman

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Mirror Image on June 09, 2024, 06:40:43 AMI think a lot of boils down to exposure for many people. Even classical listeners who are supposedly "well versed" in this music have blindspots. But, yes, I do think there's an unwillingness to get beyond what someone knows simply because they feel that either the music won't be very good or that it may prove to be a waste of their time.

I think you are right, but also I think of lot of folk - for whatever reason - simply cannot be bothered to explore the unknown.  There is a sense that what they know and like is "enough".  I don't cite it as a virtue but I suspect frequent visitors to this kind of forum are more driven by the unending search for something new - what you know already is never enough.

Mirror Image

#33
Quote from: Roasted Swan on June 09, 2024, 09:57:34 AMI think you are right, but also I think of lot of folk - for whatever reason - simply cannot be bothered to explore the unknown.  There is a sense that what they know and like is "enough".  I don't cite it as a virtue but I suspect frequent visitors to this kind of forum are more driven by the unending search for something new - what you know already is never enough.

That's certainly true. Us GMGers are a different breed for sure. I've known people in my life that only have a handful of CDs in their entire music collection (if one wants to call it that) and they're completely content. For me, the more I know is actually the less I know, because I never stop learning new things, but a lot of this boils down to wanting to be open to new possibilities.
"What was great about the '50s is that, for one brief moment - maybe, say, six weeks - nobody understood art." ― Morton Feldman