Alberta Bair Theater
October 14, 2017 | 7:30 p.m.
Concert Cues | 6:45 p.m.
Witness the passionate energy of authentic Argentine tango in this fiery show with bandoneon player Hector Del Curto along with tango dancers Ana Padron & Diego Blanco. This concert features works by Arturo Marquez, Alberto Ginastera and Astor Piazzolla.
Ana Padron & Diego Blanco
Ana Padron attended high school at the prestigious New World School of the Arts in Miami, under the direction of Daniel Lewis where she developed her foundation in the study of classical ballet, modern dance, jazz and African dance, choreography, and the science of movement. Ms. Padron continued her education at the University of Florida and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in the Performing Arts. In 2004, Ms. Padron was accepted into the Martha Graham Second Dance Company, where she trained with Virginie Mécène, Dudley Williams, Peggy Lyman, Pearl Lang, Linda Hodes, and performed acclaimed roles in Appalachian Spring, Primitive Mysteries, Acts of Light and Serenata Marisca.
In 2015 Ms. Padron co-founded the NYC-based not-for-profit dance company Tango For All, following 12 years of professional touring.
Ms. Padron is committed to promoting the rich history of the Argentine tango in NYC through performance, choreography and teaching
Diego Blanco is a highly acclaimed performer and choreographer who excels in Argentine tango. He graduated high school from Miami’s distinguished New World School of the Arts and continued his education at the University of Florida where he received his Bachelor’s degree with honors in the Performing Fine Arts under the direction of Daniel Lewis. Mr. Blanco has taught master classes and workshops internationally. He has studied modern dance and collaborated with Jennifer Muller on the choreography for “Passion Fruit,” which premiered at the Dicapo Opera Theater. Mr. Blanco has studied Argentine Tango with Osvaldo Zoto, Los Dinses, Diego di Falco, Carlos Perez and Jorge Nel.
Mr. Blanco was recently Dance captain for Mariella Franganillo Dance Company. He has performed at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and Dance STL Spring to Dance Immersion Festival. He has performed with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Romulo Larrea Tango Orchestra, the Washington Pan-American Symphony Orchestra, the Eternal Tango Quartet, Brunetti Trio, Giraudo Quartet and Avantango. Mr. Blanco recently completed the Dance St Louis 2015 Monsanto Dance Education Residency Program and was commissioned to choreograph a work for St. Louis’ Central VPA High Schools Performance in the Touhill Performing Arts Center’s Spring to Dance 2015 season.
For more information visit tangoforall.org
Hector Del Curto
Hector Del Curto was born to play the bandoneon. He began winning awards in Argentina by the time he was 17. Not only does he play with the Hector Del Curto Quintet, he also formed the Hector Del Curto Tango Orchestra. In 2014, he established the Bandoneon Intensive Workshop and the Stowe Tango Music Festival, the premier Tango festival in the United States.
Check back for outreach opportunities to be announced closer to the concert date.
Danzòn No. 2
Mexican composer Arturo Márquez composed Danzón No.2 when it was commissioned by the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Since its premier in 1994 it has become a staple of Mexican contemporary music. It was inspired by the danzón dance style after Márquez visited a ballroom performance in Veracruz. (Tunefind Webpage) Danzón No. 2 can also be hard in Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle.
Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983) was born in Buenos Aires and is recognized as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was commissioned to compose Variaciones Conertantes by the Argentine Friends of Music in 1953. It was performed for the first time that same year in Buenos Aires. Variaciones Concertantes is a compilation of national and international sounds which Ginastera calls “Subjective Realism.” He strove to accomplish this in all his works. Variaciones Concertantes is dedicated to the founder of the Argentine Friends of Music, Mrs. Leonor Hirsch de Caraballo, and the first conductor to perform this piece, Igor Markevitch.
Astor Piazzolla, known as the “Father of Tango Nuevo,” was born in Argentina in 1921. He received his first bandoneon as a gift from his father when he was 8 years old. He made his first record after only 1 year of lessons. Throughout his life he used the bandoneon to compose and record. He began composing a new type of tango music in the 1950’s, which would eventually become known as Tango Nuevo. Piazzolla continued to develop new compositions of tango until his passing in 1992.
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Tango Nuevo Program Notes:
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1922)
Libertango, Adiós Nonino, Oblivion
“For me, the tango was always for the ear rather than the feet.” – Ástor Piazzolla
Tango originated in the lower-class urban neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and Montevideo around the turn of the 19th century. In this cultural melting pot, the European polka, waltz, and mazurka, Cuban habanera and African candombe rhythms blended with the Argentinean milonga, and the tango was born.
Tango music and tango dance developed hand-in-hand; like the dance, tango music first emerged from the immigrant populations of Buenos Aires. By the end of the 19th Century, this blend of salon, European and African music was established as the soul of both dance and song for the citizens of Buenos Aires. And by the 1920s, the sensual two-beat couple dance had crossed the Atlantic to become the sensation of Europe and then North America.
With their proprietary interest, Argentineans were initially not very happy with the tango innovations of their countryman Astor Piazzolla. The son of Italian immigrants who had spent a good part of his growing-up years in New York’s Greenwich Village, Piazzolla always remained a bit of an outsider in his native land and an artistic maverick. In his late teens, he resettled in Argentina, and his skills playing the bandoneon, a variety of accordion that is the signature instrument of authentic Argentinean tango, won him a place in the traditional tango orchestras that were at their height during the 1940s.
But Piazzolla was no traditionalist, and he had a restless musical mind. In 1954, after studying with the noted composer Alberto Ginastera, he won a scholarship to study with the great French pedagogue Nadia Boulanger in Paris. There he soaked up French impressionism, contemporary atonality, and improvisatory jazz (the saxophonist Gerry Mulligan was a particularly strong inspiration). Nevertheless, Boulanger urged him to stay close to his tango roots; while playing one of his own tangos for her, he recalled her saying, “Here is the true Piazzolla — do not ever leave him.”
And so Piazzolla returned to Argentina and developed what he called “tango nuevo”: an invigorating contemporary form of tango that went far beyond smooth popular dance into the realm of serious concert music. As noted jazz journalist Fernando Gonzalez wrote: “He retained tango’s poignancy and lyricism while rejecting its tendencies toward sentimentality … He revised its harmonic language by incorporating the influences of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Giacomo Puccini, and Olivier Messiaen, as well as the occasional nod to the cool jazz of Mulligan and Lennie Tristano.”
However, while Piazzolla’s tango compositions won fans abroad, the Argentineans resisted his innovations nearly up until the time of his death in 1992. “I was taking the old tango away from them,” Piazzolla said. “The old tango, the one they loved was dying. And they hated me.” But he took nothing away from them at all. By modernizing the form, Ástor Piazzolla made it more eternal: In 2009, UNESCO declared tango to be an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The title of Libertango, a combination of “libertad” and “tango,” reflects Piazzolla’s break from traditional tango to nuevo tango and the freedom he found with this new style. It was written when Piazzolla moved to Italy in 1973, and recorded in Milan in 1974. His relocation helped him recover from a heart attack that had set back his performance career, and Libertango became part of his “Italian period” during which he renewed his dedication to making recordings. One of his most popular works today, its immediately recognizable opening of a repeated descending pattern is joined by the violins’ lyrical line that soars above it, combining fiery rhythms with a smooth melody.
While touring in October of 1959 Piazzolla received news that his father, Vicente Piazzolla, had died. It was his father, whose nickname was “Nonino,” who had bought the composer his first bandoneón when Astor was a child, and he had a profound influence on the composer’s life and career. Upon returning home to New York days after learning the news, Piazzolla went into the kitchen and asked his family members not to disturb him. They soon heard him crying while playing his bandoneón with the notes that became Adiós Nonino. Piazzolla later called this his “finest tune.” Two contrasting sections alternate throughout the piece: one based on an energetic tango from his Paris days, called Nonino, the other a lyrical, tender lament. Piazzolla would perform the work thousands of times throughout his life in over twenty arrangements.
One of Piazzolla’s most beloved tangos, Oblivion was composed for Marco Bellocchio’s 1984 film Enrico IV about an actor who believes that he is King Henry IV after falling off his horse. It is written as a slow milonga, the Argentinian predecessor to the tango. Its wistful, elegantly unfurling melody and gentle accompaniment have been arranged for countless combinations of instruments.
Piazzolla’s works have rarely been programmed by the BSO. His Tangazo appeared on January, 1991 and February, 2013 programs.
Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
Variaciones Concertantes, op. 23
Considered by many to be the finest composer that Argentina has produced, Ginastera’s early works show a strong influence of Argentinean folk music. Later creations display a dynamic, and exceptionally colorful, cosmopolitan style that won him a strong global reputation. The Variaciones mark the transition between these two periods.
“The work has a subjective Argentinean character,” Ginastera wrote. “Instead of employing folklore material, an Argentinean atmosphere is obtained by the use of original melodies and rhythms.” Following the opening original theme are eleven variations, each ranging in length from mere seconds to several minutes. Each variation spotlights one or more solo instruments, displaying in insightful, often virtuoso style their personalities and capabilities. The final variation is an exuberant rondo for full orchestra, a fitting end to this appealing and witty concerto for orchestra.
This is the premier performance of this work by the Billings Symphony. Long-time patrons might remember, however, Maria Casale’s November 1995 performance of Ginastera’s Concerto for Harp and Orchestra.
Arturo Márquez (1950-)
Danzón No. 2
Since its 1994 premiere, Arturo Márquez’s Danzón No. 2 has enjoyed immense success, not only in Mexico, where some have even called it a “second national anthem.” but internationally as well. Márquez’s piece presents some irresistible Mexican dances, of the kind one would normally hear at a dance hall, played by an orquesta típica, in the full colors of a large symphony orchestra. Of Cuban origin, the danzón is in the Latin world what the waltz is in Europe: a stately couple dance that is considered the main event at any ball; it starts slowly and allows for some close bodily contact between the performers, but eventually speeds up and can get quite fiery towards the end. Aaron Copland had earlier been inspired by the danzón in his Danzón Cubano (1942). Márquez has now made it into one of his signature genres; to date, he has completed no fewer than eight danzones (the others are all scored for smaller ensembles).
Danzón No. 2 was written in early 1994 during the Zapatista uprising, which fought for the rights of the impoverished indigenous populations in Mexico. This circumstance, pointed out by the composer himself, gives the work a special urgency, from the haunting opening clarinet solo all the way to the passionate ending. While the composer says he tried “to get as close as possible to the dance, its melodies and its wild rhythms,” he acknowledges that his symphonic setting “violates” its intimacy, form and harmonic language. “The Danzón No. 2 is … a very personal way of paying my respects and expressing my emotions towards truly popular music.”
The Billings Symphony first performed Danzón No. 2 in February 2005, under the baton of Barbara Day Turner.
Carlos Gardel (1890-1935)
Por una cabeza
El Zorzal Criollo (The Creole Thrush) is still revered in Buenos Aires as the embodiment of the soul of tango. With his dark, sensual baritone voice and dramatic phrasing, Carlos Gardel created miniature masterpieces of hundreds of three-minute tango recordings. Gardel’s matinee idol looks fueled his popularity, and he made over twenty films for Paramount Pictures – essentially vehicles for the tango-songs he composed with lyricist Alfredo Le Pera. Por una cabeza is one such song. Translated as “by a head,” the song “tells us, with disdain and pride, about the life of a loner. A man trapped between two fires: his passion for race horses and an excessive attraction towards a beautiful and evil woman who lies to him and rejects him. The turf is a metaphor where everything is included: hopes, bets, falls and misfortune, both in races and in love.” The song was featured in the 1935 film, Tango Bar. That same year, at the height of his career, Carlos Gardel died in an airplane crash.
The BSO first performed this Gardel work in February, 2013.
Ángel Villoldo (1861-1919)
With a knack for writing, Ángel Villoldo devised stanzas for carnival groups and published numerous poems and prose writings for magazines. He wrote about everyday street life with a witty sarcasm. El choclo, one of the two tunes that almost everyone instantly recognizes as tango, was originally written in 1905 as a comedy song. “Choclo” means “corn cob,” Villoldo used the term in a less literal and more bawdy sense. (Not surprising for a man who also made his living giving private recitals of poems that were considered in very bad taste.) Villoldo’s words quickly fell out of use, and were replaced by the 1940s with a lyric grandly proclaiming that with this tango the Tango was born.
Gerardo Matos Rodríguez (1897-1948)
Written in 1917, La cumparsita was is one of the most recognizable tangos of all time. Orchestra leader and pianist Roberto Firpo premiered the song, adding parts of his own tangos as well as a portion of Verdi’s “Miserere” (from Il trovatore) to Matos Rodríguez’s carnival march (cumparsita), resulting in the tango we know today. Some time later, Pascual Contursi wrote the most popular lyrics, which begin, “The little parade of endless miseries…”
With all the emphasis on Argentinian tango, many forget that the art also developed on the other side of the Rio de la Plata – in Montevideo, where Matos Rodríguez was born. In fact, in 1997, La cumparsita was named the cultural and national anthem of Uruguay by law, causing protests when the Argentine Olympic team marched to it at the 2000 Sidney Games.