Toward the end of the stunning virtuosic finale of Arturo Marquez’s Autumn Concerto, Venezuela-born trumpeter Pacho Flores took a breath to blurt out “Gracias Arturo!”. Moments later he turned toward Tucson Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Lauren Roth and blew a couple quick bursts that sounded like a kiss. We’re not positive, but it looked like Roth blushed.
As the audience of nearly 1,700 stood on its feet applauding and showering Flores with shouts of “Bravo”, TSO Music Director José Luis Gomez slipped backstage and returned with Marquez. It’s not often that an audience gets to meet the man behind the music, but Marquez made the trip from Mexico last weekend as part of the festivities surrounding the American premiere of his concerto.
Tucson is one of four orchestras around the world that co-commissioned Marquez to write the work for Flores, the internationally celebrated trumpet player. The premiere was the focal point of last weekend’s “Fresh Music, Copland and More” concerts that included a moving multimedia tribute to the orchestra on its 90th anniversary to a soundtrack of Copland’s “Our Town” suite and an invigorating performance of Bernstein’s beastly Overture to “Candide.”
Autumn Concerto represents Mexican classical music in all its wonderful colors and textures, from the opening percussion and trumpet mariachi rumble to the soulful nods to Mexican folk tunes and American jazz. Flores brought along four trumpets for the work, switching with each movement, and his articulation on each was so crisp that he stood out as a distinctive voice even when the strings soared and the percussion rumbled. In the blistering finale where Marquez puts the biggest spotlight on the soloist, Flores made the virtuosic acrobatics look like a casual stroll on a sunny afternoon. His fingers danced along the valves as he blew out warm, muscular notes all without taking a breath for several minutes. Heck, we were winded just watching him.
The Autumn Concerto was one of two that Flores performed with the orchestra, which in itself is a rarity. Usually a soloist joins the orchestra for one piece and then performs a short encore. Flores started his night with Neruda’s Trumpet Concerto for strings and trumpet, another first for the TSO which had never before programmed the piece. Call the Neruda a tantalizing appetizer for Flores’s main course, the Marquez. We got a glimpse of Flores’s virtuosity and his musicality especially in the lush solo finale. For an encore, Flores performed Invierno Porteño from Astor Piazzolla’s Estaciones Porteñas.
Gomez and the orchestra started the concert with a spirited performance of Mozart’s plain-out fun and flirty Overture to “The Abduction from the Seraglio.” Also on the program: Copland’s popular Four Dance Episodes from “Rodeo.”
ONE: this is a brilliant program. Two brass concerti, featuring Venezuelan super-virtuoso Pacho Flores, and two popular Aaron Copland works, were bookended by sublime overtures by Mozart and Bernstein. ONE-A: a surprising common musical thread weaves its way through Mozart’s Overture to ‘The Abduction from the Seraglio’, the ‘Concerto for Corno da Caccia’, by J.B.G. Neruda (a contemporary of Bach and Mozart), and the first movement of the new Arturo Márquez ‘Concerto for Trumpet‘ – a sustained, repeated melodic syncopation. The TSO Music Director, José Luis Gomez, is a sly one!
Copyright: Steven Gendel
TWO: this performance by Pacho Flores was a soulful and energetic gift to this audience. His tone, articulations, and musicality are masterly, while his virtuosity is both easy and mesmerizing. TWO-A: the Marquéz Concerto, written specifically for Pacho, covers a vast array of styles, and utilizes a different type of “corno” instrument for each movement. The finale, a virtuosic masterpiece, was given a BLISTERING, ear-opening performance by Pacho Flores – worth the price of admission alone. Even the (infamously sleepy) Tucson classical concert crowd was wowed to ovation. TWO-B: Señor Flores has a decidedly humorous side to his stage presence. To whit: solo brass performances always contain the necessary act of emptying the spit valves on the instrument. In the Neruda concerto, Pacho, large in physical stature, went through this routine with his miniature horn, emptying one valve, then holding the instrument above head level, to blow the saliva out of the second valve. Every player must engage in this chore, yet repeatedly executed, directly in front of the audience under spotlight, almost became a comic relief act during the beautifully and generously performed concerto. When, at the the end of the Márquez concerto, and again after the accompanied encore, Pacho tooted a spoiler note towards his comrade in arms, José Luis, the complete picture of his honest, open, and lovable joviality was complete. Great musicianship and fun showmanship all around! As composer Marquéz, who was here for this premier, came to the stage, a heart-warming, congratulatory celebration ensued between these three latin musical stars. What a treat for both the audience the orchestra!
The second half opened — accompanied by the orchestra playing Copeland’s familiar ‘Our Town’ — with a splendid photographic presentation, projected above the Music Hall stage,of the history of the TSO, now in its 90th year, and other events and places in this city’s storied cultural history. A very moving experience for everyone in attendance. The second half feature, the ever-popular ‘Four Selections From Rodeo’ by Copeland, and especially Bernstein’s virtuoso circus for orchestra, A.K.A. ‘The Overture to Candide’, were given, on this night, top notch execution and interpretation. These closing pieces, again, as we have come to expect, showed off the beautiful marriage of this orchestra and its Music Director. This is a fine, fun, and talented ensemble, whose love for its conductor is expressed in how well they respond to his exuberant, expressive direction. It is obvious, watching and listening, that this immense positive energy overflows in both directions. This longish program, was yet satisfying every joyful step of the way. Bravi, tutti!
Friday night, 25 January 2019, Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Fresh Music, Copland and More’ Classic concert:
Pacho Flores makes his debut with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra under the baton of its Chief Conductor José Luis Gómez for the US premiere of Arturo Márquez’s Concierto de Otoño on January 25 and 27. This is the second premiere following that of last September by the National Orchestra of Mexico and itsChief Conductor, Carlos Miguel Prieto, and pending in Asia are premieres by the Orchestra of the Center of Performing Arts of Hyogo with Michiyoshi Inoue next May, and the European premiere, which will close the cycle next August with the Oviedo Filarmonía under its newChief Conductor Lucas Macías. This is what Maestro Márquez explains on his Concerto (video).
While this second premiere is still pending, other orchestras around the world have already scheduled the Concierto de Otoño to be performed twice during the 2019/20 in the USA, Colombia, where it will be premiered in South America, and three times in Spain before being premiered in France, the UK, Germany and Canada, meaning that in just two seasons, in addition to the four premieres resulting from the commission, it will have been the subject of more than two dozen performances, always, of course, by Pacho Flores.
This commission is part of an ambitious project of shared commissions launched by Pacho Flores himself in order to expand the repertoire of trumpet and orchestra and is the first of six commissions to composers Roberto Sierra, Paquito D’Rivera, Efraín Oscher, Christian Lindberg and Daniel Freiberg, in which ten other orchestras from around the world are already involved for their premieres over the coming seasons. All the concerts resulting from this project will increase the discography of Pacho Flores on his exclusive label Deutsche Grammophon.
In parallel with this project Pacho Flores continues to receive dedications of new concerts and perform absolute premieres. Over the last year Pacho has premiered his own work, Cantos y revueltas (January 2018, Real Filharmonía de Galicia, Manuel Hernández-Silva); the concert Stunning Trumpet by Giancarlo Castro (February 2018, Ulster Orchestra, Rafael Payare); Preach pour trompette et orchestre by Alain Trudel (March 2018, Orchestre Symphonique de Laval, Alain Trudel); Double concerto for clarinet and trumpet (August 2018, Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock, Markus Bosch, with Matthias Schorn) and Latin American Chronicles by Daniel Freiberg (January 2019, Het Gelders Orkest, Christian Vasquez); and the new Double Concierto for Trumpet and Trombone by Christian Lindberg (March 2019, Orchestra of the Spanish Radio and Television, Christian Lindberg, with Ximo Vicedo) and the Concierto for trumpet no. 1 by Arturo Sandoval (July 2019, Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra, Enrique Diemecke). (Translation: John Eastham)
Dutch conductor Kees Bakels conducts the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and violinist Richard Lin next November the 15th at the Victoria Concert Hall. The program includes Rossini’s Overture of La Cenerentola, Korngold’s violin concerto and excerpts from Chaikovski’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Kees Bakels has held numerous titled positions with major orchestras, most recently with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra where he was Music Director from 1997 to 2005. Other positions have included Principal Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Adviser to the Quebec Symphony Orchestra or Chief Guest Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for 10 years and still works with the orchestra each season. He also works regularly in France with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris and Orchestre National de Lille. Kees Bakels has conducted all the major Dutch orchestras, as well as orchestras in Europe, the USA, Australia and Japan.
Kees Bakels’ guest-conducting engagements have included the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, Berne Symphony Orchestra, Het Brabants and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Kees Bakels has always concentrated as much on opera as on symphonic repertoire and has regularly appeared with the Netherlands Opera and the Vancouver Opera and in the UK has conducted new productions of Aïda and Fidelio at the English National Opera and La Bohème and Carmen at the Welsh National Opera. He has conducted concert performances of opera for the famous VARA Matinee Series at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam regularly over 25 years, most recently Donizetti’s La Favorita. He has championed the lesser known operas of composers such as Mascagni and Leoncavello including Mascagni’s Zanetto, Amica, Il Piccolo Marat,Isabeau, Iris, Nerone and his Messa di Gloria, and Leoncavello’s La Bohème, Edipo Re and Zaza.
Kees Bakels’ recordings include the complete Vaughan Williams symphonies, recently re-released as a box set and complete Nielsen Concerti with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for Naxos and four recordings with the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra for NM Classics. He has also recorded with the Philharmonia Orchestra for ASV, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra for Denon, the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. Recordings with the MPO for BIS include works by Dvorak, Sibelius, Khachaturian, Glazunov and Rimsky-Korsakov. Kees Bakels’ recording of Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto with Jean-Jacques Kantorow and the Tapiola Sinfonietta was nominated in the orchestral category of the BBC Music Magazine Awards.
Kees Bakels was born in Amsterdam, beginning his musical career as a violinist. He studied conducting at the Amsterdam Conservatory and at the Academy Chigiana in Siena. During his studies he became Assistant Conductor of the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and subsequently held the position of Associate Conductor with that orchestra. At that time he also became Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra which he took to festivals in England, Finland, Belgium and Spain and on a coast-to-coast tour across the USA.
Soprano Berna Perles debuts at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in the role of Angustias de La Casa de Bernarda Alba by Miquel Ortega, conducted by the composer himself, together with Rubén Fernández-Aguirre and directed by Bárbara Lluch, which will be performed on the 10th, 11th, 13th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 20th and 22nd of November. She shares the limelight with Nancy Fabiola Herrera (Bernarda Alba), Carmen Romeu (Adela), Luis Cansino (Poncia), Carol García (Martirio), Marifé Nogales (Amelia), Belén Elvira (Magdalena), Milagros Martín (Maid) and the recent Premio Nacional de Teatro prizewiner Julieta Serrano as María Josefa.
The best of the night was Berna Perles, a delicate, lyrical and emotional Micaela, with an impeccable singing voice and great expressive sensitivity (Andrés Moreno, Diario de Sevilla)
The best voice of the night was the Micaela of the Malagueña Berna Perles: delicate, emotional, expressive and with clean projection (José Luis López, ABC de Sevilla)
Berna Perles was born in Malaga, where she obtained a Título Superior de Canto en el Conservatorio Superior de Música de Málaga con Matrícula de Honor y Premio Extraordinario Fin de Carrera – the highest awards. She studied a postgraduate course at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome and completed her training at the “Santa Cecilia” Opera Studio of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. She then studied in Vienna with Glenys Linos, a disciple of Elvira Hidalgo. She has received master classes from Renata Scotto, Mirella Freni, Mariella Devia, Teresa Berganza, Monserrat Caballé, Isabel Rey and Carlos Álvarez.
Berna has been awarded prizes in numerous singing competitions (First Prize, “Muestra de Jóvenes Intérpretes de Málaga”, First Prize, “Juventudes Musicales de España”, First Prize “Nuevas Voces Ciudad de Sevilla”, First Prize “Concurso Internacional Mozart de Granada”, First Prize “Concurso Internacional de Canto de Logroño”) and finalist in many others (“Concurso Internacional de Canto de Toulouse”, “Concorso Lirico Internazionale Umberto Giordano“ “Concurso Internacional de Canto Manuel Ausensi”, “Concurso Internacional de Canto Villa de Colmenar Viejo”, “Concorso Lirico Internazionale di Portofino”). In 2016 she received the award for Best Musical Work of the Year in her hometown of Malaga.
His professional career has led him to perform, both in opera and zarzuela productions and in lyrical recitals, in theatres such as Teatro dell´opera (Rome), Auditorio Santa Cecilia (Rome), Konzerthaus (Vienna), Teatro Comunale (Bologna), Teatro Garibaldi (Lucera), Royal Opera (Versailles), Théâtre du Capitole (Toulouse), Opera de Massy, Le pin galant (Mérignac), Théâtre de Sète, Teatro Avenida (Buenos Aires), Le pin galant (Mérignac), Théâtre de Sète, Teatro Avenida (Buenos Aires).
He has sung under the baton of John Axelrod, Andrea Marcon, Giarcarlo Andretta, Dominique Rouis, Martin Mázik, Lorenzo Mariani, Edmon Colomer, Santiago Serrate, Pablo González, Mario Menicagli or Manuel Hernández-Silva and under the stage direction of Lindsay Kemp, Emilio Sagi, William Orlandi or Riccardo Canessa. Berna has played, among others, the roles of First Lady and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Contessa and Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro), Bastienne (Bastien und Bastienne), Donna Anna and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Gilda (Rigoletto), Anna Bolena (Anna Bolena), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Musetta y Mimì (La Bohème), Liù (Turandot), Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Micaela (Carmen), Costanza (L’isola disabitata), Sandrina (Un avvertimento ai gelosi).
In zarzuela Berna has also played the roles of Ascensión (La del manojo de rosas), Carolina (Luisa Fernanda), Katiuska (Katiuska) and Marola (La tabernera del puerto). In the field of symphonic and oratorio, she has performed, among others, The Messiah (Handel), Stabat Mater (Pergolesi), Requiem (Fauré), Requiem (Mozart), Requiem (Verdi), Elijah (Mendelssohn), Ninth Symphony (Beethoven), Coronation Mass (Mozart), Miserere (Ocón) and Carmina Burana (Orff). Among her recent commitments are: Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte, Teatro Cervantes de Málaga), several recitals with the ROSS, OCG, RFG, OSN and OFM, and interesting debuts at the Teatro de la Zarzuela (Madrid) in La casa de Bernarda Alba by Miquel Ortega, at the Teatro Campoamor, Teatro del Liceu and Teatro Real. She has participated in the recording of a CD of duets, together with baritone Carlos Álvarez, on the DNRecords label. (Translation: John Eastham)