YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections
(Page 2 of 2)


Renaissance for a Firebrand

Colorful works by a free spirit of Mexico's classical music are sweeping into Southern California.

April 04, 1999|JOHN HENKEN | John Henken is a regular contributor to Calendar

For last year's World Cup in France, Diemecke was involved in the unusual project of scoring the video of a historical soccer match, in the manner of a film composer. Diemecke wrote music to depict Brazil in the famous 1986 France-Brazil match in Mexico, and Rene Koering composed the music to represent France. It was played live in Paris by two orchestras under two conductors to a projection of the match video, with the orchestras trading off the music as each side had the ball.

Diemecke is bringing some of that soccer music along on this tour, plus a just-commissioned homage he wrote to Chavez, which may turn up as an encore. He has also made his own arrangement of Revueltas' unfinished ballet music "La Coronela," stripping away unauthentic additions and enlarging the score of the composer's film music used to complete the work.

Diemecke's pieces will be West Coast premieres, but at UCLA the orchestra offers the world premiere of "Danza Silvestre," commissioned from Marquez by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes specifically for the tour.

"This is what I consider a major work," Marquez says from his home in Mexico City. "The premiere will be very special for me, because my family is all over the place there."

Marquez lived in the Los Angeles area as a child in the 1960s and returned in the late '80s as a graduate student at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. He has composed a lot of chamber music, as well as music for dance and films. He taught at the University of Mexico City and is now composer-in-residence for the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional. The 11-minute "Danza Silvestre" is his first work in this new role.

"It is not a sad piece, of course, it's a dance, though it has some nostalgia. Like Revueltas, I like what I call 'urban rhythms,' particularly dance forms. But I think it is going to be hard to find much obvious influence of him in this music. The language of Revueltas is very--well, Revueltas. He is like a person apart, with a unique harmonic language.

"I am not trying to do something in his style, but more like a homage, very personal. I mix rhythms--some tango, danzon, bolero, samba. I use a lot of modal scales and some polytonality. I have worked in a more abstract and modernist style, but about 10 years ago made a decision that it wasn't my language."

Another tour participant is Eugenia Revueltas, the composer's daughter. A teacher of Spanish and Mexican literature at the University of Mexico City, she will give a lecture at UCLA discussing Revueltas' letters about music and the Spanish Civil War.

"I was very young when he died, but I can remember him playing piano and violin, laughing and other little things," she recalls. "For many years, Revueltas was not too much played in Mexico. Mexican composers are not played as much as you might think--too modern. People prefer traditional classics.

"People year to year seem to like Silvestre's music more, not only the common listeners, but also the musicians and authorities are discovering this music.There are more records, more concerts, and other countries are playing it more and more. Listeners are changing."


ORQUESTA SINFONICA NACIONAL DE MEXICO, California Center for the Arts, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. Date: Thursday, 8 p.m. Prices: $21 to $51. Phone: (800) 988-4253. Also Friday, 8 p.m., Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, $15 to $55, (949) 553-2422; Saturday, 8 p.m., Royce Hall, UCLA, $11 to $40, (310) 825-2101; California Theatre of Performing Arts, 562 W. 4th St., San Bernardino, next Sunday, 4 p.m., $12 to $37.

Los Angeles Times Articles