GISÈLE BEN-DOR , conductor

A letter from the Artistic Director

Dear Friends:

It is with great pleasure that we present this humble homage to a most original and fascinating composer on the centennial of his birth. Believed by many to be Mexico's greatest composer, Silvestre Revueltas' music is only beginning to receive the attention it deserves.

Latin America has produced remarkable musicians. A long time ago, as I personally embarked on a journey in search of neglected gems, the encounter with music of such capacity to surprise, its rhythmic inventiveness, nationalistic flavor and emotional power instigated my resolve to celebrate each discovery. First came the enthusiastically received performances of Sensemaya and La Noche de los Mayas with the Santa Barbara Symphony, followed by a premiere recording of La Coronela preceded by the first recreation in some fifty years of the complete ballet-as well as Itinerarios and Colorines, also widely praised.

The music of other composers from Mexico, Uruguay and Brasil is showcased as well, with particular focus on a monumental centerpiece, the Symphony #10 of Heitor Villa-Lobos, Amerindia, in what constitutes a U.S. premiere performance, and a world premiere recording of the work for Koch International, to be realized immediately after the Festival. This continues the vital contribution by the Santa Barbara Symphony to the music of Latin masters, by presenting, commissioning and recording some of their works.

The long dreamt idea of giving exposure to a wider variety of Revueltas compositional activities became a reality when an international group of Latin American music lovers and many generous institutions and individuals in Santa Barbara pledged their support. This allowed for the commissioning of English subtitles and the projection of films for which Revueltas composed the music, including La Noche de los Mayas, possibly Revueltas' best known score, Vamonos con Pancho Villa, where the music later became the last movement of the posthumous La Coronela, and Redes. These film scores also find an independent place in the concert hall.

Bringing artists from Mexico was another benefit of the much appreciated support. The fact that Revueltas wrote music for children is not well known, and the Espiral Puppet group is presenting, amongst others, the first performance outside of Mexico of Once Upon a Time there was a King. I've always held the belief that a composer who can also write for children is one who is secure in his/her individual music language. Revueltas gives us proof.

The percussion quartet Tambuco is one of a kind. This past summer I had the opportunity of working with these extraordinary Mexican musicians in an all-Revueltas concert at the Suoni DiVersi Festival in Italy, which I conducted. The thought of including them in this celebration of a great Mexican composer was too tempting to pass.

The scholarly angle was embraced by the devoted Revueltas expert, Professor Roberto Kolb-Neuhaus, who not only made it possible to import a large number of documents from Mexico, but was a resourceful and generous advisor in every respect.

There is much to be grateful for: personally, being born and raised in Uruguay, for the opportunity to celebrate a portion of a rich musical heritage; geographically, for the City of Santa Barbara, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, whose Hispanic design and population gives it a natural ambiance; and professionally, the open-mindedness and support of our cultural institutions, particularly the Santa Barbara Symphony, without which none of this would have been possible.

With warmest wishes,

Gisele Ben-Dor

Artistic Director


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© 2011 Gisele Ben-Dor. All rights reserved.