The Making of “El Tesoro”

Two weeks ago I performed a new concert program “El tesoro: Songs from Spain and the Americas” in Freehold, NJ. The concert was sponsored by the Apassionata Arts Recital Series. What was compelling about the content was the combination of music from Spain, the U.S. and south of the border, and the inclusion of original compositions and lesser known repertoire. “El tesoro” which means “the treasure” is also the title of an original art song. I wrote the poem and contemporary composer, Waundell Saavedra, set it to music in 2006. Mr. Saavedra has written songs and also full operas that have been performed in New York City. It was special for me to include this piece.

Another original piece on the program is Gary Madison’s “Cubanos and Cigars.” This is a piece composed for piano that recently won a prize in the Fidelio Musica PIano Competition, based in Spain. Gary’s prowess as a solo pianist is highlighted in his rendition of his composition and Ernesto Lecuona‘s La Malaguena. 

Most of the Spanish art song in this concert (Turina, DeFalla, Rodrigo) is standard fare for singers who perform Spanish repertoire. The Latin American repertoire in Spanish as well as the zarzuela, are quite unknown to most concert goers in the United States. Alongside standard romanzas from zarzuela already in my repertoire, I debuted “Marinela” from “Canción del olvido”  and “María la O”  from the zarzuela of the same name by Ernesto Lecuona.  Although zarzuela productions were popular in New York City, El Paso, Texas and California in the 1980s and 1990s, the mounting of zarzuelas in the U.S. began to diminish in the 21st century. Maria la O is a Cuban zarzuela and works from Cuba tend to be inaccessible to many in the United States due to the estranged relationship between the two nations.

In conjunction with Latin American boleros and art songs by composers such as Ernesto Lecuona, Rafael Hernández (Puerto Rico) and Carlos Guastavino (Argentina), in the third section, I chose to include the Peruvian song Huiracocha which is rarely heard outside of Perú and unknown even to United States’ experts of art music in Spanish.  It was written by Peruvian-American composer, Clotilde Arias in 1941. Huiracocha was my favorite song to perform and was equally enjoyed by the audience.  It is a story and a prayer, a journey, all at once.  Invoking the god of the Inca, it travels across the Andes, and tells the history of a proud people.

Special thanks go to Andrés Andrade, Anna Tonna, Tim Richester, Luis Galvez, and Pablo Zinger, for advice, coaching and scores for El tesoro.  I look forward to presenting this concert again in New York City in 2014. (Details will be forthcoming).

Check out Apassionata Arts upcoming November concert in Freehold, NJ:


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