The 9th Annual Latin American Piano & Song Festival of New York:
Centennial celebration of the birth of Carlos Jiménez Mabarak, Consuelo Velázquez, Alberto Ginastera, and Henrietta Yurchenco on November 14, 2016 at the Renee Weiler Concert Hall in Greenwich House Music School, New York City.
I had no previous knowledge of the Latin American Piano & Song Festival in New York City. If I had, I would have been there since the first year. This is César Reyes’ 9th year as producer, performer, and music director of this project. I’m familiar with Latin American Art Song but I’m not familiar with Latin American Piano Music. Reyes’ talents as a musicologist were in ample display on November 14th.
Before each piece Reyes addressed the audience and gave a short introduction of how he encountered the piece and how he got his hands on the score, since working editions of this music is difficult to obtain. He dedicated the program to one of his mentors, the American Ethnomusicologist Henrietta Yurchenco. He began the program with Mexican composer Carlos Jiménez Mabarak “Sonata para piano” and “Ay luna ven”. I didn’t know Jimenéz’s music, so it was a pleasure listening to this wonderful pianist bestow life to the notes on the page. This was a great beginning to what ended up being a delightful evening.
Next, he played “Fiesta de pájaros” by Guatemalan composer Jesús Castillo. As a listener, it was fun to picture each bird. Reyes technique allows him to produce a lot of sound and a clear trill for the bird calls. He followed with the Puerto Rican danza “Mis Amores” by Simón Madera. With this piece Reyes failed to transport me to a late 19th early 20th century ballroom in Old San Juan. I was a little disappointed since he had previously taken me to the Amazonas with the bird calls in the previous piece. This didn’t last long since he made up for it by playing “Marinera de concierto” by Peruvian composer Rosa Mercedes Ayarza. This piece was a great discovery, and a wonderful example of Peruvian Nationalist music.
For this festival Reyes invited singer Diana Sofía to sing Consuelo Velázquez’ classics “Amar y vivir” and “Besame mucho”. He then closed the concert with Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera’s “Milonga” and “Danzas Argentinas”. To an enthusiastic clapping audience, he performed the Mexican National Anthem transcription by Ricardo Castro displaying great skill playing a masterwork of Mexican Nationalism. I greatly enjoyed this concert and discovered new music from composers had not known previously. Thank you, César Reyes, for a delightful evening. Looking forward to the 10th Annual Latin American Piano & Song Festival.
Guest writer of the Spanish Song Slinger blog, Puerto Rican soprano Sandra Mercado is based in New York City and is dedicated to the classical vocal repertoire of the composers of Latin American. http://www.sandramercado.com/