Latin-American Dance Inspires Alma Symphony Orchestra

Soprano Victoria Walker sings excerpts from “Carman,” while the orchestra features violinist Takeshi Abo in “Havanaise.”

Alma Symphony Orchestra Alma Symphony Orchestra
The Alma Symphony Orchestra will perform works inspired by Latin-American dance during a mid-winter program that also features vocal soloist Victoria Walker and virtuoso violinist Takeshi Abo.

The concert begins at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17 in the Remick Heritage Center, Presbyterian Hall, at Alma College. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call (989) 463-7304 for ticket information.

“The works on this program have either a direct or indirect reference to traditional Latin-American dance forms,” says Jonathan Spatola-Knoll, the ASO’s music director and conductor. “All of the compositions are known and beautiful, though a couple of the pieces may be less recognizable to some.”

Victoria Walker Victoria WalkerWalker will join the orchestra to sing excerpts from “Carmen,” the 19th century opera written by French composer Georges Bizet with a Spanish flavor. Abo is the featured performer in Camille Saint-Saens’ “Havanaise,” a composition for violin and orchestra based on a Cuban dance.

The program also features the haunting “Bachianas Brasilieras” by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa Lobos. The piece was inspired by a recognized South American classic dance.

“Villa Lobos wrote several works that he called his Brazilian Bach pieces, compositions influenced by both Brazilian folk music and the style of Johann Sebastian Bach’s European classical tradition,” says Spatola-Knoll. “The music is lyrical and mournful.”

The orchestra also performs Mexican composer Arturo Marquez’s Danzon No. 2, a piece influenced by a visit to a Mexican dance hall, and the well-known Estancia Suite, a set of four dances by Argentine classical music composer Alberto Ginastera.

Takeshi Abo Takeshi AboThe Estancia dances celebrate Argentine cowboy life on the Pampas, the lush fertile lowlands of South America. The four dances portray the confrontation of city and country life.

The approximately 80-member Alma Symphony Orchestra includes a mix of professional musicians from the mid-Michigan area and Alma College student-performers.

Walker, an instructor of voice at Alma College, has appeared as a soloist with the Montreal Symphony as well as the Lansing, Jackson, Saginaw and Michigan State University orchestras.

Abo, an assistant professor of violin and viola at Alma College, has performed throughout the United States and Japan and holds the position of concertmaster with both the Alma and Midland symphony orchestras.

Story published on February 01, 2019