08 May 2024


by Jeff Counts

THE COMPOSER – ARTURO MÁRQUEZ (b. 1950) – Marquez was born in Sonora, Mexico and, though he also studied in America and Europe, his home country has never been far from his mind. In addition to numerous awards and academic recognitions for his work as a composer, Marquez has enjoyed a fair measure of celebrity in the classical music world, thanks to Gustavo Dudamel and the television show that was designed to freely mimic the conductor’s rise. Maestro Dudamel (the real one) helped put Marquez on the world map by performing and recording his Danzon No. 2 in 2008, a piece that would later feature prominently in an episode of the American comedy-drama “Mozart in the Jungle.”  

Arturo Márquez
Arturo Márquez
Milton Martínez / Secretaría de Cultura CDMX, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

THE HISTORY – “I think that for every composer it is a real challenge to compose new works from old forms, especially when this repertoire is part of the fundamental structure of classical music” wrote Márquez of his 2021 violin concerto Fandango. “Undoubtedly,” he continued, “my experience with this work during this [pandemic] period has been intense and highly emotional but, I have to mention that I have preserved my seven capital principles: Tonality, modality, melody, rhythm, imaginary folk tradition, harmony and orchestral color. The Fandango is known worldwide as a popular Spanish dance and specifically, as one of the fundamental parts (Palos) of flamenco. Since its appearance around the 18th century, various composers such as S. de Murcia, D. Scarlatti, L. Boccherini, Padre Soler, W. A. Mozart, among others, have included Fandango in concert music. In 2018 I received an email from violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, a wonderful musician, where she proposed to me the possibility of writing a work for violin and orchestra that had to do with Mexican music. The proposal interested and fascinated me from that very moment, not only because of Maestra Meyers emotional aesthetic but also because of my admiration for her musicality, virtuosity and, above all, for her courage in proposing a concert so out of the ordinary. I had already tried, unsuccessfully, to compose a violin concerto some 20 years earlier with ideas that were based on the Mexican Fandango. I had known this music since I was a child, listening to it in the cinema, on the radio and listening to my father, a mariachi violinist, interpret huastecos and mariachi music.” Anne Akiko Meyers gave the world premiere of Fandango in the summer of 2021 under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel (again, yes, the real one) at the Hollywood Bowl.

THE WORLD – Elsewhere in 2021, the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, the United States rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in Haiti and Tokyo hosted the summer Olympics after they were postponed due to COVID-19.

THE CONNECTION – These concerts represent the Utah Symphony Premiere of Fandango by Arturo Marquez.