Pacho Flores will make his debut with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on 9 March under the direction of Holly Mathieson, performing some Latin American classics such as Piazzolla, Villalobos or Paquito D’Rivera. On the following day, he will have a meeting with members of the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and perform as soloist in a concert led by Simon Emery; on 11 March he will take part in a workshop and concert with the Children’s Orchestra. These activities are part of In Harmony’s 10th Birthday celebrations, the RLPO social programme inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, where Pacho himself started. This first contact will also have its reflection in the 19/20 Season, as the RLPO is one of the orchestras engaged in the Project of Shared Commissions Pacho Flores is carrying out by commissioning a new trumpet concert to composer Roberto Sierra, together with other orchestras.
Pacho will afterwards continue with his busy schedule with the absolute premiere of Un Sueño Morisco, double concert for trumpet, trombone and orchestra by Christian Lindberg, together with trombonist Ximo Vicedo, the RTVE Orchestra and Lindberg himself as conductor; his return to the Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga; master classes and recitals in Tampere and Helsinki, including an absolute premiere of Tuomas Turriago; the Japan premiere of Concierto de Otoño by Arturo Márquez as part of the project of shared commissions, with the Hyogo PAC Orchestra and Michiyoshi Inoue; the season closing of the Stavanger Orchestra with Christian Vásquez; Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria with Dmitri Liss; Basel Symphonieorchester with Michał Nesterowicz; absolute premiere of Concierto n.º 1 by Arturo Sandoval with the orchestra of Teatro Colón and Enrique Diemecke; and the European premiere of Concierto de Otoño by Arturo Márquez with the Oviedo Filharmonía and Lucas Macías, which closes the series of commissioned premieres.
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.”