Half a century ago, Carlos Chávez (1899-1978)—a protean force as composer, conductor and cultural missionary—embodied “Mexican music.” By comparison, fellow composer Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940) blazed a short and disordered past. Tortured by creative demons, he composed for days on end without food or drink and died before his career reached its zenith. However, in today's shifting musical landscape, Chávez's modernist pedigree—esteemed by Aaron Copland and others in the United States—matters less; quite suddenly Revueltas seems at least as dominant a figure and worthy of consideration as one of Mexico’s most notable 20th-century composers.
A symposium and concert series highlight the week-long mini-festival, “Two Faces of Mexican Music: Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas Revisited,” March 12 – 15. The event is being co-sponsored by the Library’s Music, Hispanic and Rare Book and Special Collections divisions; the Mexican Cultural Institute; The Mexican Ministry of Culture; the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities; and the Department of Film Programs at the National Gallery of Art.
Unless otherwise noted, preconcert talks begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Whittall Pavilion, and concerts begin at 8 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium. Both locations are on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, March 12
, Leonora Saavedra of the University of California at Riverside joins Barbara Tenenbaum, Mexican cultural specialist in the Hispanic Division, discussing the life and works of Chávez. The talk is followed by a concert featuring Camerata Interamericana, performing Chávez’s String Symphony No. 5, a Koussevitzky commission, along with pieces by Villa-Lobos, Ponce and Nepomuceno.
On Thursday, March 13
, Aron Bitran, a member of Cuarteto Latinoamericano, and Roberto Kolb-Neuhaus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) join Joseph Horowitz, artistic director of the Post-Classical Ensemble, in discussing the string quartets of Chávez and Revueltas. The talk will precede a concert by Cuarteto Latinoamericano.
On Friday, March 14,
, Horowitz moderates a talk with Gregorio Luke, former director of the Museum for Latin American Art in California, Kolb-Neuhaus and special guest Eugenia Revueltas, daughter of Silvestre Revueltas. Following is a concert by the Post-Classical Ensemble featuring vocalist Eugenia León.
A day-long symposium begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 15
, in the Mumford Room, sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The morning session, “The Four Composers in Silvestre Revueltas,” is followed with a lecture, given by James Krippner of Haverford College in Pennsylvania, on the film “Redes,” which features a musical score by Revueltas. Arthur Dunkelman, curator of the Library’s Jay I. Kislak Collection, then leads a tour through the “Exploring the Early Americas” exhibition. The afternoon session features talks “The Unknown Chávez” by Saavedra and “Chávez and Revuletas: The Cultural Context” by Luke.
All programs are free and open to the public. However, tickets for the concerts are required. They are distributed by Ticketmaster at (301) 808-6900 or (410) 752-1200 and are limited to two per call. Each ticket carries a service charge of $2.75, with additional charges for phone orders and handling. Tickets are also available through Ticketmaster.com. Although the supply of tickets may be exhausted, there are often empty seats at concert time. Interested patrons are encouraged to try for standby seats at the will-call desk in the Jefferson Building by 6:30 p.m. on concert evenings.
The Library events will be complemented by a series of lectures at the Mexican Cultural Institute on Tuesday, March 11. Contact Hernan Bravo, [email protected]
, for more information. On Sunday, March 16, Revueltas’ music is highlighted in film screenings at the National Gallery of Art. For further information, call (202) 842-6799 or visit www.nga.gov/