Penelope Quesada, flute
Kris Bachmann, clarinet
Jackie Royce, bassoon
William Adamchik, trumpet
About the Composers
Heitor Villa- Lobos (1887 – 1959, Brazil)
Selections from Guia Practico (1932)
Villa-Lobos was a prolific composer, cellist, classical guitarist – considered one of the foremost Latin American composers of the 20th century. His unique voice was created by his internal synthesis of indigenous Brazilian folk melodies with the form and structure of Western classical music.
He first learned cello on a modified viola at the age of 6 and picked up the guitar after becoming fascinated with the music he heard in the rural parts of Brazil that he experienced when traveling with his family. At 18, Heitor set off on what would become a three-year journey throughout Northern and Northeastern Brazil. It was during these travels that he honed in on what would become his iconic voice by studying and transcribing the traditional music of these regions. It wasn’t until he returned to Rio de Janeiro that he started to study the works of Western composers such as Bach and Puccini.
His works were first premiered in the concert halls of Rio de Janeiro in 1915 and by 1919 he had caught the attention of pianist Artur Rubinstein. He spent the majority of the 1920s touring Europe and writing countless works from trios, to vocal music, to concerti and conducting various groups throughout the European continent.
Due to political upheaval in Brazil, Villa-Lobos was forced to return to Rio in 1930. By 1932, he had gained the prestigious role of director of the Superintendência de Educação Musical e Artística (SEMA), setting the standards for the musical education of Brazil’s youth. It was here that he wrote Guia Práctico (translation: Practical Guide). This guide was written as an educational tool used to support stronger music literacy throughout Brazilian schools while introducing children to the folk songs of their native country.
With over 2,000 works credited to his name, Heitor Villa-Lobos is one of the most renowned Latin American composers, leaving a lasting legacy not just in his home country of Brazil, but in fact the entire world.
Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847 – 1935, Brazil)
Lua Branca (1910)
Born Francisca Edwiges Neves Gonzaga, Chquinha was a composer, pianist, and the first female conductor in Brazil. She was also active in civic engagement throughout her life from the abolition of slavery in Brazil in the 1880s to her lifelong battle against the oppressive patriarchal society of her homeland.
Born the daughter of a high-ranking wealthy soldier and a freed daughter of a slave, Chiquinha grew up in a highly regimented military household. She was well-educated and took immediately to the piano. By age 11, she had already written her first work, a Christmas celebration, “Canção dos Pastores” (Song of the Shepherds).
She made her theater debut in 1885 with the operetta A corte na roça, causing waves in the press since there was not a feminine version of the word “maestro” at the time. She was also at the center of scandal with the 1914 premiere of Corta Jaca at the presidential palace. With elements of traditional Brazilian popular music, she had violated a protocol banning such performances in government buildings, causing outcries from the high society and politicians alike.
Though she was a controversial figure, her works were wildly popular. She wrote over 2,000 works including waltzes, polkas, operettas, tangos, quadrilles, mazurkas, serenades and more. In fact, her popularity led to her works to be used without her permission, leading her to create the Brazilian Society of Theater Authors, the first organization of its kind that created copyrights and protections of works by Brazilian artists. One such piece that was plagiarized was Lua Branca, meaning White Moon, written for the comic opera, Forrodobó.
Clotilde Arias (1901 – 1959, Peru)
Arias was a Peruvian-American composer best known for her operatic work, Huiracocha and her commissioned Spanish translation of the United States national anthem.
Born in 1901 on the shores of the Amazon in Iquitos, Peru, Clotilde spent many of her early years in Barbados. She began writing and composing, playing for silent films and gaining artistic recognition at a young age. She moved to New York City in 1923 during the Harlem Renaissance and the coming of age of Broadway. She had intended to study music, but instead married and had a child. Unfortunately, this led her to abandon her studies to support her family. But this was not the end of her career. She juggled parenthood with many other roles, including translator, musician, journalist, copywriter, activist, and educator.
Arias found work in translation, especially in the world of music, translating popular music into Spanish as publishing companies expanded to meet their growing Hispanic popularity. These translations were a feat within themselves as she worked to maintain the spirit of the works within the rhythmic constraints of the well-known melodies. Her expertise helped her cross over into the world of advertisement where she wrote copy and composed jingles in Spanish for large companies such as Ford Motor Company, Spam, Pan Am, and Coca-Cola.
Clotilde was involved in the Pan-Americanism movement during the 1930s and 1940s, with a keen interest in the rights of indigenous people of the Americas. Huirachocha, an important deity in the Incan beliefs, was a composition that was a tribute to these indigenous people, part celebration, part lament dedicated to “the Indian, the Forgotten Man of the Americas” echoing the “sadness of a race calling to the ancient god of their forefathers, who no longer hears his children”.
Manuel Ponce (1882 – 1948, Mexico)
Selections from Canción Mexicana (1912)
Manuel Ponce was a composer, educator, and scholar of traditional Mexican music. He is credited as one of the earliest Mexican composers to gain international recognition.
A child prodigy, Ponce was four years old when he first sat down and perfectly pitched out a song he had heard his sister play. He entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Mexico city shortly after the turn of the century, studying performance as well as theory and analysis. He traveled to Italy to study composition with Enroci Bossi, but was turned away. He refocused on Piano, traveling to Berlin to study witty with Edwin Fischer and Martin Krause. It was during this time that fellow students encouraged him to write with the influences of his traditional Mexian heritage.
He published Cancion Mexicana in 1912 after his return to Mexico City as a series for piano. These works were based on popular Mexican folk tunes. This piece contains one of his most notable pieces, “Estrellita” which you will hear in tonight’s performance. That same year, he gave a concert of popular Mexican music at the Arbeau Theater. The performance was met with harsh criticism by those who believed that venues such as that should be reserved for the works of European classical masters.
Though he enjoyed a fruitful career and maintains recognition with his honorific title as Creator of the Modern Mexican Song in his home country, his name has all but faded into obscurity in the broader world.
Zequinha de Abreu (1880 – 1935, Brazil)
Tico-Tico no Fubá (1917)
Born Jose Gomes de Abreu, but better known by his nickname Zequinha, de Abreu was a pianist and composer.
Born in a small town in the Sao Paolo state, Zequinha began playing music on a harmonica at the age of 5 and started formal studies on the piano at the age of 6, and by the age of 10 he was writing music in his first band and playing the flute and clarinet. Though his parents wanted him to to be a priest, he ran away from the Epsicopal Seminary to start his music career at the age of 16. By 17, he landed his first band leader position and quickly gained notoriety.
In 1924, he published his first waltz, Branca which was a huge success. He found himself in the unique position of being a salaried composer, a position nearly unheard of at the time. He died in 1935 of a heart attack. During his lifetime, his popularity was regional to Brazil, but after his death he gained international notoriety when his 1917 Choro song Tico-Tico no Fubá was introduced by Hollywood with the 1940s performances of Ethel Smith in the MGM film Bathing Beauties & Carmen Miranda in Copacabana. The song even enjoyed a brief stint on the charts with an English translated version performed by the Andrews Sisters in 1944. Tico-Tico is still considered one of the most cherished and recorded Choro of all time.
About our Guest Performer
Charles Rivera is a composer, improviser, multi-instrumentalist, teacher, and sound artist. He was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He studied at the New School in New York City. Charles has performed with Godspeed You Black Emperor, David Wax Museum, The Louisville Orchestra, Orchestra Enigmatic, Pleasure Boys and more; he currently leads the groups MINEcONTROL and Stook. Charles has performed at SXSW, World Cafe at NPR, Gasparilla Music Festival, Americana Music Festival and Conference, Boston House of Blues, and KMAC among others. His compositions, arrangements, and installations have been featured at 21 C Museum and Hotel, Bernhiem Forest as part of SONICBernheim, The Speed Art Museum, The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, Dreamland, Parsons School of Design, The People’s Garden in Brooklyn, and HOUSEGUEST gallery. He lives and teaches in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2019 he was the first composer to receive a Hadley Creative Fellowship.
About the Kentucky Chamber Orchestra
Founded in 2017 by Ben Crouch as the Kentuckiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kentucky Chamber Orchestra works to maintain and promote the importance and relevance of classical music, to provide opportunities for education regarding the history and significance of the fine arts, and to promote the shared appreciation and enjoyment of music throughout the Greater Louisville area and beyond.
We pride ourselves on the professional environment we create for our musicians. Performing music at a high level requires focus, dedication, and artistry. We are lucky to have a group of musicians who practice these aspects of musical performance in every rehearsal and every performance. Furthermore, we consider ourselves extremely blessed to be a part of a community with such a dedication to the arts. Louisville is a community with a strong shared appreciation for the fine arts. This shared appreciation is echoed in the many arts-focused institutions our city has allowed to flourish. The music community here in Louisville is composed of many high-quality ensembles, including (but not limited to) the Louisville Orchestra, the Louisville Civic Orchestra, the Louisville Philharmonia, the Louisville Youth Orchestra, and many more.
In addition to the population of gifted artists that allows us to push for a high level of musicianship, we pride ourselves on our diversity. We are a diverse group of musicians in every area. The Kentucky Chamber Orchestra does not discriminate based on age, race, gender, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, or any other basis prohibited by our nondiscrimination policy. The age range of our musicians is very wide, ranging from high school students to current and retired music educators. All talented instrumentalists who have a passion for music are welcome in the Kentucky Chamber Orchestra. Through performance of challenging repertoire, the orchestra offers an opportunity for fine musicians to come together as one and collaborate. The KCO is composed primarily of local musicians; as an organization that emphasizes the talent of the Louisville community, we feel it is important to feature the musicians of our city. The KCO serves as both an artistic outlet for our members as well as a place for the people of Louisville to enjoy the fine arts.
Special Thanks to
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