GISÈLE BEN-DOR , conductor

The Artists

Gisèle Ben-Dor - Artistic Director

Gisèle Ben-Dor, the Artistic Director of the Revueltas Festival, is the Music Director of the Santa Barbara Symphony and the Boston Pro-Arte Chamber Orchestra. A long time champion of Latin American composers, her performances and recordings have received wide critical acclaim.

Her vision of a festival of Silvestre Revueltas' music to celebrate his 100th anniversary originated several years ago. Most recently, she conducted the Santa Barbara Symphony in Sensemaya and La Noche de los Mayas, and the orchestra's highly praised first recording includes the world premiere of Revueltas' final work, La Coronela, as well as Itinerarios and Colorines. Born and raised in Uruguay, Ms. Ben-Dor frequently appears as guest conductor with major orchestras worldwide, and has recorded several world premieres of Alberto Ginastera for BMG and Koch.


Noted by many as one of the 20th Century's most original composers, Silvestre Revueltas is frequently compared to Manuel de Falla, Charles Ives and Aaron Copland, but he has long been relegated to the pantheon of tragic cult figures. Born in Mexico on December 31, 1899, Revueltas died on October 5, 1940, following a prolific decade of creativity and compositional activity.

Revueltas' music reflects his genius, passion and the modernism and nationalism of that period in the Americas, also exemplified by composers such as Alberto Ginastera in ARgentina and Heitor Villa-Lobos in Brazil. The Mexican composer's dynamic music is deeply inspired by the folklore and instruments of Latin America, but it is universal in scope, and expresses the individual voice of a unique artistic personality.

Drawing on Mexican folk-song without actually quoting it, Revueltas' mature works weave folk-type melodies into a gaudy instrumental fabric. His music is also ripe with bold, vigorous rhythms, counterpoint and rich undercurrent of sardonic humor, often combined with soul-searching melodies.

Revueltas led an equally rich, though ultimately tragic personal life. An active violinist, he toured Spain during the Civil War. As a conductor he led the orchestras of Mexico City, San Antonio, Texas and Mobile, Alabama. Composer and novelist Paul Bowles called Revueltas the "Mexican Falla" in that both managed to incorporate the music of the streets and taverns and dress it for the concert hall with little of the purity lost.

Revueltas' significance is perhaps likened to that of Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Embodied in his music, reaching beyond himself or Mexico, are the struggles of any nation and the spirit of the human condition.

Espiral Puppet Theatre

The Esprial Puppet Theatre is an award-winning puppet troupe of Mexico. It was founded by children's author and teacher, Mireya Cueto, who was born in Mexico City in 1922. An admirer of Silvestre Revueltas, she wrote scripts and librettos to some of his music. She and her son, Pablo, founded Tinglado, the puppet and actors' theater company in Mexico.

Musically Speaking

Professor Roberto Kolb-Neuhaus, renowned Revueltas scholar at the University of Mexico, lectures on Revueltas' first major orchestral piece, Cuauhnahuac of 1930, and his musical score for the 1935 film, Redes. Professor Kolb-Neuhaus has lectured around the world and has written numerous academic papers and books on the extraordinary Mexican composer.

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© 2011 Gisele Ben-Dor. All rights reserved.