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Louisville Orchestra

The People of Earth.

 

By Bill Doolittle
Photo provided by Louisville Orchestra

 

People of Earth, a dynamic Latin timba ensemble based in New York City, appears with Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra in Whitney Hall on Mar. 4 and 5, is a highlight of Part I of the orchestra’s two-concert Festival of Latin American Music. Part II continues Mar. 11-12, in a festival that sweeps across the Caribbean and through the hemisphere on a tour of the music of the Americas.

Together, the two concerts premiere three new compositions commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra. Two were commissioned and premiered by the Louisville Orchestra more than 50 years ago under the baton of symphony founder Robert Whitney.

Besides the new, there’s also the familiar, with the Mar. 4-5 concerts featuring Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances” from “West Side Story,” and the Mar. 11-12 concerts capped with the “Cuban Overture,” by George Gershwin.

A lot of sounds, and it’s all got rhythm.

Teddy Abrams.

“We’re bringing together all kinds of perspectives on Latin Music, from traditional to jazz, fusion and concert music as we celebrate this culture,” says Abrams. “The rhythms and textures that bring energy and light to Latin Music will be on display at these shows — and I’m so excited to bring these performers and this music to Louisville audiences.”

The People of Earth is a band of singers, dancers, horns and percussion infusing the many beats and dance rhythms of Cuba and the Caribbean — all perking with the symphony’s strings. Abrams says the blend “blurs the lines of salsa club and concert hall.

“We had the extraordinary opportunity to commission a new work from Dafnis Prieto, a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” fellow and multi-Grammy-winning Cuban composer and performer,” says Abrams. “He agreed to write a piece that redefines the concept of soloist,” with the People of Earth timba band taking center stage.

Prieto says his “Tentacion” (Temptation) explores the many sides of a relationship in “an imaginary love story driven by the powerful law of attraction.”

Heitor Villa-Lobos.

Abrams notes that the Festival’s new commissions reaffirm the Louisville Orchestra’s association with Latin Music. Many of the hundreds of works premiered and recorded by the symphony on its First Edition label a half-century ago were created by musicians of international fame, including Heitor Villa-Lobos, Brazil’s most famous composer. His “Alvorada na Floresta Tropical” (Dawn in a Tropical Rainforest) premiered in Louisville in 1953.

Though classically trained in Paris, Villa-Lobos always asserted he learned his music “from a bird in the jungles of Brazil, not from academics.” For the premiere, Villa-Lobos explained, “A dawn, in any tropical forest of Brazil, is for me an overture of colors accompanied by the magic singing and chirping of tropical birds — and also by the howls, squeals, evocations and the exotic barbaric dances of the native Indians.” Villa Lobos adapted the tonal scales of indigenous Brazilians into his composition. The piece is programmed for Saturday, Mar. 5 only.

Later in March, Abrams programmed Joaquin Rodrigo’s guitar “Concierto de Aranjuez” into the Louisville Orchestra’s “Music Without Borders” series, Mar. 24, 25 and 26, at The Temple, The Jeffersonian, and the Ogle Center, respectively. Stephen Mattingly is the featured guitarist.

Festival of Latin American Music
Part I: Mar. 4, 11 a.m., Mar. 5, 8 p.m.
Part II: Mar. 11, 11 a.m., Mar. 12, 8 p.m.
Whitney Hall, in the Kentucky Center
Part III: Mar. 24, The Temple; Mar. 25, The Jeffersonian; Mar. 26, The Ogle Center

The Louisville Orchestra
620 W Main St. # 600
Louisville, KY 40202
502.584.7777
louisvilleorchestra.org