Latin American Vacation
Latin American Vacation is a production which explores music from and inspired by Latin American musical styles and genres. It combines elements of classical music and theatre, emerging as an original storytelling performance. Our two main characters, one the straight-laced academic and the other a free-spirited adventurer, take a vacation to three Latin American countries. Along the way they create “Youtube” vlogs and meet talented pianists, other hotel guests (the audience), and a flight attendant. The plot thickens as their personalities and viewpoints clash - what makes a piece of music authentic to a particular country’s musical tradition?
During the development of this project we realized that we had a lot of easily accessible pieces that were influenced by Latin American cultures, musical traditions, and places to choose from, but struggled to find music by Latin American composers. We chose to integrate the debate of authenticity into the plot of the show, hoping to inspire our audience to have a conversation about the roots of the music they listen to.
Claire Kim-Shin, Tateuchi Hall Manager for CSMA approached us a few weeks after our performance of Concerto for Frenemies in June, and asked if we’d play another concert. At the time, we had some ideas of themes and music we wanted to explore but no completed programs. We gave Claire a list of our ideas, and she chose the Latin American Vacation theme.
A Very Special Thank You
William Wielgus, Oboist for the National Symphony Orchestra, has a wonderful YouTube channel collecting his performances of little-known works by living and 20th century Latin American composers. We found 3 of the pieces in this program on his channel, and he was instrumental in helping us obtain the music.
Learn more about the countries and music we explored
Mike Mower is a freelance musician (flute, clarinet, saxophone) and composer based in the UK. He has a varied performance career encompassing jazz, popular, and classical music style. He is also in demand as a composer, working mostly on commissioned works. He frequently performs and demonstrates his music at colleges, universities and music conventions worldwide.
Alberto Ginastera was arguably one of the most influential Latin American composers to date. He studied music as a child in his hometown of Buenos Aires. As a young man he was able to travel internationally, and spent a year at Tanglewood in Boston studying composition with Aaron Copland. Ginastera moved to Geneva, Switzerland in 1968 during the Argentine Revolution. His music is characterized by his use of Argentine folk melodies and rhythms in classical forms. This can be heard most clearly in his early compositions, but all his pieces have some germ of an idea from his Argentine roots.
Duo for Flute and Oboe
William Grant Still
A passionate musician from his early childhood, William Grant Still was a composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist. As an African American man in the early 20th century, he overcame many hardships in his career, including the “negro-music” label which threatened to sideline his works. As the century progressed and racial diversity became more accepted, his compositions were more accepted in the concert halls as well as dance halls. He composed many Symphonic, Ballet, Operatic, and Chamber works.
Selections from Miniatures
Miguel del Aguila
Three-time Grammy nominated American composer Miguel del Aguila was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. To date he has written more than 120 works that couple drama and driving rhythm with nostalgic nods to his South American roots, His music has been performed worldwide by over 96 orchestras, by thousands of ensembles and soloists, and recorded on 45 CDs, earning him 3 Grammy nominations to date. His works are recorded on Naxos, Dorian, Telarc, New Albion, Albany, Centaur and Eroica, among others
Zequinha de Abreu
Zequinha de Abreu was a well-known composer and musician of the Belle Epoque, and contributed to the establishment of the choro genre in Brazil. The Belle Epoque was characterized by salon music, and short, widely accessible pieces. Abreu had a varied career performing in a dance band and composing. He wrote a huge number of songs, many of which became internationally recorded hits.
Tico Tico no Fuba
Pop: 44.7 million, (2018 est)
Musical styles associated with Argentina: tango, ‘folk’ music, ‘Rock nacionale’ (Argentine rock), ‘Cuarteto’ and ‘Bailanta’
The Bandoneon is one of the most famous instruments native to Argentina - a particular form of accordion played largely in Tango Orchestras.
Pop: 31.3 million, (2018 est)
Peruvian musical styles are diverse and draw upon Andean, Spanish, and African cultural roots. The Andean roots are heard in wind instruments used (pan pipes, flutes) as well as the melodies which are common. Spanish influence can be heard in the string instruments and harmonies, and African influence in the percussion instruments and rhythms. Peruvian music can be divided into indigenous, mestizo, and Afro-Peruvian, and further divided between highland or lowland and rural or urban. (Sources: Music of Peru, Wikipedia; Grove Music Online)
Fernando Fernandez Munoz
Fernando Martín Fernández Muñoz was born in Trujillo, Peru. He began studying music at an early age at the Regional Conservatory of Music “Carlos Valderrama” in the Trumpet specialty. He later continued studying composition and musical arrangement under teacher David Martinez Apellaniz. Currently he is teaching Music Theory and Composition at the Regional Conservatory of Music “Carlos Valderrama”. His symphonic, chamber, and solo works have been performed internationally.
Las Tardes y el Tiempo
Pedro Seiji Asato
Peruvian composer Pedro Seiji Asato was born in Lima, studied, and later taught there at the National Conservatory of Music. He has composed symphonic works, choral pieces, operas, stage music, chamber music and now I am writing short, simple pieces. In his early career he focused on avant-garde compositional styles of atonality and randomness, and is now writing short, simple pieces. (He says, "There are already too many technically difficult works and for what?")
F. Aquino &
Aquino b. 1956, Vasconcellos b. 1955
Francisca Aquino (pianist b. 1956) and Ricardo Vasconcellos (bassist b. 1955) are retired teachers from CEP-Escola de Musica de Brasilia, in Brazil’s capital. Ricardo was the Principal Bass Player of the National Theatre Symphonic Orchestra for many years. Besides performers, they are also composers, arrangers and publishers. Since 1992 they have worked together and in 1998 they founded a small publishing house, AssuntoGrave.
Francisca and Ricardo developed a particular way to merge classical and popular music offering many compositions and arrangements to any classical player. Their main goal is to disseminate the vast richness of Brazilian music. To read more about AssuntoGrave please go to www.assuntograve.com
Gosto de Brasil
Piazzolla was born in Argentina to Italian parents and grew up in New York City. He began performing as a child, and when his family moved back to Argentina in his teens, he soon joined a tango orchestra playing the bandoneon. As he explored more music, he longed to compose in a style uniquely his own. His mature compositions combine elements of tango, jazz, and classical music into a unique musical language all his own called tango nuevo.
Tango Etudes #3 and #5
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim could be considered the Gershwin of Brazilian jazz. Like Gershwin, Jobim contributed a large number of songs to the jazz songbook. Jobim’s catchy, simple tunes became popular throughout the world in the 1960’s when Stan Getz recorded Desafinado. This launched the bossa nova internationally, and it continues to be an integral song style heard in modern jazz clubs. Jobim toured the world many times, but preferred to record his music in studios to the touring life.
The Girl from Ipanema
Pop: 208.8 million, (2018 est)
Brazilian music is influenced by a mixture of African, European and Indigenous instruments, melodies, and rhythms. There are many different musical forms, but the most notable are: samba, choro, MPB (Popular Brazilian Music), bossa nova, and tropicalia.
(Sources: Music of Brazil, Wikipedia; Grove Music Online)
Considered by some the best-known South American composer of all time, Villa-Lobos was incredibly prolific with a very particular style. His compositions combine melodic and rhythmic influences from Brazilian folk music with more traditional classical composition structures. One of his best known works, Bachianas Brasileiras is a collection of 9 pieces which combine counterpoint in the style of Bach and melodic themes from Brazil.
Choros No. 2
Paquito D'Rivera, is an accomplished Cuban performer and composer. He was a child prodigy, at age five playing clarinet and saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. His works reflect influences of Afro-Cuban culture, jazz and classical music. In his teen years, he founded and performed with two musical groups. With these groups, he toured Europe and America, leading to them to several Grammy Awards. Throughout his life he has received many other honors and awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award for his Contribution to Latin Music. He continues to perform and compose in many musical styles, including jazz, bebop, latin, and more traditional classical.
Fleur de Cayenne