Musica de Camara String Orchestra
Roselin Pabón, conductor
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
September 25, 2010
Musica de Camara String Orchestra
Musica de Camara was established 31 years ago by the Puerto Rican soprano Eva de la O with a mission to present Hispanic music and musicians in concert. The organization has given several hundred performances in famous venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and in educational institutions, community centers and churches, for audiences who rarely have an opportunity to hear classical music.
This concert presented the Musica de Camara String Orchestra in a program by Spanish and Latin American composers. The Orchestra, founded in 2008, grew out of a smaller chamber ensemble formed several years earlier to give concerts in New York City’s public schools. The present group of about 30 players has continued this commitment, and recently added lecture demonstrations on various aspects of music to its educational activities.
The members of the Orchestra constitute a veritable United Nations. Though they live and rehearse in New York City, they trace their heritage to many countries, including Yugoslavia, Korea, China, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. For their concerts, they invite guest conductors. This performance was directed by the Puerto Rican Maestro Roselin Pabón, for 30 years Associate Musical Director of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, Musical Director of the Conservatorio de Musica, San Juan, and a frequent guest with orchestras in Europe and North and South America.
The players, all aspiring soloists, are young, serious, and committed to music; some are still pursuing advanced studies. For example, the assistant concertmistress, Nicole Leon, studies with Itzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School. Their playing was a bit tentative, but time and more performing experience will give them sufficient self-confidence to throw restraint and caution to the wind and give free rein to their natural, youthful involvement and enthusiasm. Concertmaster Francisco Salazar, principal second violinist Luis Casal, principal violist Edmundo Ramirez, and principal cellist Veronica Parrales played a number of solos with vibrancy and aplomb, indicating the group’s high level of talent.
The program opened with Fuga Criolla, a substantial, classical-style Fugue by Juan D. Plaza (1921-1965) from Venezuela. Of the two Danzas Concertantes by Xavier Montsalvatge (1912-2002) from Spain, the slow one had an American, the fast one a Spanish flavor. Aruán Ortiz (b. 1967) from Cuba was present to hear his Perla Caribena; its leisurely melodiousness gave the players a chance to make their instruments sing, as did the lush, sonorous Canambu by Eduardo Gamboa (b. 1953) from Mexico. The Suite for Strings, Op. 115, by Blas E. Atehortua (b. 1943) from Colombia had two fast movements: a rollicking “Scherzo a la valse” and a rhythmic, pungent Finale. Puerto Rico was represented by two composers: Jack Delano (1914-1997), whose Sinfonietta for Strings had a lyrical slow movement and a cheerful fast one, and Guillermo Figueroa (1892-1962), the earliest-born composer on the program, whose Puerto Rican Rhapsody on Themes of Rafael Hernández caressed the ear with its flowing melodies and old-style harmonies. Finally, Michelangelo 70 by the great Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992), orchestrated by Carlos Rengifo, made a rousing finale, eliciting a standing ovation from the large audience, which had been showing great appreciation throughout the concert. Maestro Pabón responded with an encore: a Puerto Rican Danza, Sara, arranged by Guillermo Figueroa which Johann Strauss could have written on a Puerto Rican vacation.
- Edith Eisler for New York Concert; New York, NY
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