As it turns out, the musical group that performed at Carmel’s Palladium Thursday and was billed as the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico was actually the Symphony Orchestra of the State of Mexico (Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México) which is based in Toluca, in the state of Mexico, Mexico. It’s an important distinction because the former (Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, OSN) is the most important classical music and symphonic ensemble in Mexico and plays regularly at the Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) in Mexico City. The two orchestras are sometimes confused. That is not to say that the latter is in any way inferior, because based on its stellar performance, the 40-year old Toluca-based orchestra led by chief conductor and music director Enrique Batiz is tremendous in its own right. Still, one wonders why the Center, in its advertising and promotion of the concert, wasn’t aware of the important difference.
Despite the billing blunder, it didn’t seem to matter to the nearly full Palladium house made up of a heavily Latino audience, some of whom also attended a VIP reception in the Palladium’s Founder’s Room prior to the concert. The event, which was co-sponsored by the Mexican Consulate of Indianapolis and Amigos, a local organization that promotes goodwill between residents of Mexico and Indiana, was held to honor the orchestra and conductor Batiz. Also present were various city, state and federal elected officials or their representatives.
Opening bi-lingual remarks for the concert itself were made by Center President Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, who was born in Cuba, and Jorge Sanchez, the Mexican Consul in Indianapolis.
The concert’s first half, which paid tribute to Mexico’s Spanish roots, included “Danzas Fantásticas, Op 22” by Joaquin Turina and Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez,” featuring guitarist Alfonso Moreno. After intermission the orchestra performed Brahms’ “Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op 90.”
“Danzas Fantásticas,” which Seville born composer Turina drew from Andalusian folk dances, consists of three movements with the first clearly influenced by Flamenco music; the second with a melancholy feel, inspired by a Basque dance; and the third which is fiery and highly energetic.
“Concierto de Aranjuez,” composed by Rodrigo, who was blind from the age of three, is considered to be one of the most celebrated guitar concertos. Moreno, demonstrating his mastery on classical guitar, interpreted the work, consisting of three movements, with its intended fragility, grace and meaning. Especially moving was Adagio, the highly recognizable second movement, which characterized its feeling of quiet sorrow.
Following Brahms’ “Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op 90,” which filled the second half of the program and further displayed the superlative musicianship of its players, the orchestra performed two encores that honored the countries of the concert’s host and guests. The first was an excerpt from “Huapango,” by José Pablo Moncayo Garcia, one of Mexico’s most important composers and the second was a portion of “Liberty Bell,” by John Philip Sousa, an American composer of military and patriotic marches.
For tickets and information about the remainder of the Center for the Performing Arts 2014-2015 season call (317) 843-3800 or visit thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.