Bard Music Festival to Celebrate Mexican Composer Carlos Chávez

Carlos Chavez

Carlos Chavez

(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON, N.Y.) – The 26th annual Bard Music Festival – an exploration of “Carlos Chávez and His World” – kicks off this Friday, August 7, at 8pm, with “The Musical Voice of Mexico” in the Fisher Center’s Sosnoff Theater. The first of the weekend’s five themed concerts – “Chávez and Mexico’s Musical Heritage” – offers an introduction to Mexican music since the colonial period of New Spain, culminating with the work of Carlos Chávez (1899–1978) and his 20th-century contemporaries. The opening event features an outstanding lineup that includes pianists Anna Polonsky and Orion Weiss, guitarist Jason Vieaux, soprano Ava Pine, the Daedalus Quartet, and members of the American Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of music director and festival co-artistic director Leon Botstein.

A protean force as composer, conductor, teacher, journalist, and visionary cultural ambassador, Carlos Chávez embodied 20th-century Mexican music, bringing wider visibility to Mexican musical and cultural life. Yet despite his efforts, few Mexican compositions have achieved international recognition. This year’s Bard Music Festival seeks to redress this balance, taking Chávez’s life and career as the lens through which to examine a vibrant cultural period in Mexico and Latin America.

With its recognized gift for thematic programming, Bard achieves a depth and breadth of musical and cultural discovery that is truly unique. All of Weekend One’s programs are augmented with pre-concert talks by eminent scholars, including award-winning director Sergio Vela, author of multiple publications on Chávez’s sole opera, The Visitors; Roberto Kolb-Neuhaus, a leading authority on Chávez’s contemporary Silvestre Revueltas; and Dr. Ricardo Miranda, National Coordinator of Music and Opera at Mexico’s National Institute of Fine Arts.

Botstein leads the full American Symphony Orchestra in Program Three, which showcases Chávez’s Piano Concerto with Mexican pianist Jorge Federico Osorio – “one of the more elegant and accomplished pianists on the planet” (Los Angeles Times) – as soloist. Perhaps the concerto’s foremost exponent, Osorio has twice recorded it, most recently with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Mexico and Carlos Miguel Prieto.

During this first weekend (a second follows on August 13–16), additional events shed further light on Chávez’s achievement in helping to create “The Musical Voice of Mexico.” Program Two presents music by such of his Parisian influences as Dukas, Ravel, Stravinsky, Milhaud, and Poulenc, while Program Four explores the artistic renaissance that followed Mexico’s prolonged and bloody civil war.

To conclude the opening weekend, Program Five comprises works that capture something of the riotous color, bold strokes, neoprimitivism, and larger-than-life aesthetic of Mexico’s world-renowned muralist movement; a semi-staged production of Falla’s one-act puppet chamber opera El retablo de maese Pedro, along with performances of Revueltas’s wind symphony Troka and ballet El renacuajo paseador, and Chávez’s own Suite for Double Quartet, drawn from his ballet for Martha Graham The Daughter of Colchis, will be designed and directed by Doug Fitch, co-founder of celebrated out-of-the-box production company Giants Are Small.

Weekend One’s offerings are complemented by panel discussions on “Culture and National Identity: The Case of Mexico,” with speakers including Bard’s Scholar-in-Residence Dr. Leonora Saavedra, editor of the upcoming 2015 volume, Carlos Chávez and His World; and “Mexico and the United States: Past, Present, and Future.”


Program details of Bard Music Festival, “Chávez and His World”

WEEKEND ONE: The Musical Voice of Mexico

Friday, August 7



Chávez and Mexico’s Musical Heritage


Sosnoff Theater


8 pm Performance with commentary by Leon Botstein; with Daedalus Quartet; Ava Pine, soprano; Anna Polonsky, piano; Jason Vieaux, guitar; Erika Switzer, piano; Orion Weiss, piano; Members of the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director




  • Carlos Chávez (1899–1978)

H.P. Danse des hommes et des machines (1926)

String Quartet No. 3 (1943)

from Ten Preludes (1937)

Xochipilli: An Imagined Aztec Music (1940)

  • Manuel M. Ponce (1882–1948)

Concierto del sur (1941)

  • Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940)

Ranas (1931)

Toccata (sin fuga) (1933)

  • Songs and other works by Manuel de Sumaya (c.1678–1755); Juventino Rosas (1868–94); Felipe Villanueva (1862–93); Gustavo Campa (1863–1934); Ricardo Castro (1864–1907); Ernesto Elorduy (1854–1913); Julián Carrillo (1875–1965); and José Pablo Moncayo (1912–58)



Tickets: $25–$60





Saturday, August 8



Culture and National Identity: The Case of Mexico


Olin Hall


10 am–noon


Leonora Saavedra, moderator; Lynda Klich; Claudio Lomnitz; Alejandro L. Madrid

Free and open to the public




The Parisian Influence


Olin Hall


1 pm Pre-concert Talk: Byron Adams


1:30 pm Performance: Amphion String Quartet; Bradley Brookshire, harpsichord; Joseph Eletto, baritone; Benjamin Fingland, clarinet; Simon Ghraichy, piano; Brian Zeger, piano; Ava Pine, soprano; Lance Suzuki, flute; Jason Vieaux, guitar; Bard Festival Chamber Players




  • Carlos Chávez (1899–1978)

Seis exágonos (1923–24)

Sonatina for piano (1924)

36 (1925)

Trio (1940)

  • Paul Dukas (1865–1935)

La plainte, au loin, du faune (1920)

  • Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)

5 Mélodies populaires grecques (1904–6)

  • José Rolón (1876–1945)

String Quartet (ca. 1920)

  • Manuel M. Ponce (1882–1948)

Sonata, for guitar and harpsichord (c. 1926)

  • Darius Milhaud (1892–1974)

Catalogue de fleurs, Op. 60 (1920)

  • Francis Poulenc (1899–1963)

Rapsodie nègre (1917)

  • Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)

Tango (1940)



Tickets: $35








Mexico: The Crossroad of Antifascism


Sosnoff Theater


7 pm Pre-concert Talk: Sergio Vela


8 pm Performance: Jorge Federico Osorio, piano; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director




  • Carlos Chávez (1899–1978)

Sinfonía de Antígona (1933)

Piano Concerto (1938)

  • Arthur Honegger (1892–1955)

Symphony No. 3 “Liturgique” (1945–46)

  • Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940)

Redes (1934–35)

  • Conlon Nancarrow (1912–97)

Piece No. 1 for Small Orchestra



Tickets: $25–$75






Sunday, August 9





Mexico and the United States: Past, Present, and Future


Olin Hall


10 am–noon


Luisa Vilar Payá, moderator; Leon Botstein; Mario Lavista; Richard Suchenski

Free and open to the public







Music and the 10-Year Mexican Revolution


Olin Hall


1 pm Pre-concert Talk: Ricardo Miranda


1:30 pm Performance: Maria Bachmann, violin; Daedalus Quartet; Cecilia Violetta López, soprano; Nicholas Phan, tenor; Anna Polonsky, piano; Erika Switzer, piano; Benjamin Verdery, guitar; Orion Weiss, piano; Bard Festival Chamber Players



  • Carlos Chávez (1899–1978)

Adelita y La cucaracha (1915)

Las margaritas, canción mexicana tradicional (1919)

Jarabe, baile mexicano tradicional (1922)

Three Pieces, for guitar (1923)

Sonatina, for violin and piano (1924)

Foxtrot (1925)

Cuatro melodías tradicionales indias del Ecuador (1942)

  • Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940)

Tierra pa’ las macetas (c. 1924)

String Quartet No. 4 “Música de feria” (1932)

Ocho por radio (1933)

  • Songs and works for guitar or piano by José Rolón (1876–1945); José Pomar (1880–1961); Manuel M. Ponce (1882–1948); Tata Nacho (1894–1968); Alfonso Esparza Oteo (1894–1950); Blas Galindo (1910–93); José Pablo Moncayo (1912–58); and others



Tickets: $35








Music, Murals, and Puppets


Sosnoff Theater

5 pm Pre-concert Talk: Roberto Kolb-Neuhaus


5:30 pm Performance: Amphion String Quartet; Benjamin Fingland, clarinet; Cecilia Violetta López, soprano; Louis Otey, baritone; Nicholas Phan, tenor; Lance Suzuki, flute; members of the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director, and Zachary Schwartzman; projections by Tim McLoraine; lighting by JAX Messenger; costumes by Moe Schell; designed and directed by Doug Fitch; and others


  • Carlos Chávez (1899–1978)

Suite for Double Quartet, from The Daughter of Colchis (Dark Meadow) (1943)

  • Manuel de Falla (1876–1946)

El retablo de maese Pedro (1922)


  • Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940)

Troka (1933)

El renacuajo paseador (1936)


Tickets: $25–$60



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