Our next concert, Amor! is a musical celebration of love - Spanish style.  All the composers on the program are either Spanish or were heavily influenced by Spanish music. We've assembled some Fun Facts about the composers and their music.

MANUEL DE FALLA - Ritual Fire Dance from El Amor Brujo

Our first composer of the evening is Manuel de Falla (pronounced "FA-ya"). We'll be performing Ritual Fire Dance from his ballet El Amor Brujo (Love the Magician)

  • de Falla was born in Spain in 1876
  • He was one of the leaders of the revival of Spanish music that began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
  • He lived in Paris for several years, where he was influenced by the French composers Debussy and Ravel, who in turn had been previously captivated by Spanish music

El Amor Brujo tells the story of Candela, a young Gypsy woman whose husband has died and she is now free to marry her true love, Carmelo. But, she is haunted by the ghost of her dead husband, who comes to her every night to dance with her. The villagers suggest she try a ritual dance to free her from the ghost, but at first it does not work. However, when Candela convinces another woman (with whom her husband had been unfaithful) to take her place the ritual succeeds and she and Carmelo are free to enjoy their love.

listen to ritual fire dance

Georges Bizet - Carmen Suites Nos. 1 & 2

The second story of the night does not end as nicely, for both the participants and the composer. We'll be performing two suites from the opera Carmen by French composer Georges Bizet.

  • Bizet was born in France in 1838
  • Before he wrote the opera Carmen he was viewed as being obscure, complicated, tedious, and hampered by technical skill vs lit by inspiration
  • He set out to make sure his new work was all clarity, vivacity, full of colour and melody and he succeeded: Carmen went on to a respectable run of over 30 performances and became known as one of the greatest operas of all time
  • Unfortunately, Bizet died from a heart attack after the 33rd performance of Carmen at only 37 years old
  • After his death his composer friend Ernest Guirard put together the Carmen suites.

The opera tells the story of the love affair between the factory girl Carmen and the toreador Escamillo, as well as her flirtation with Don José, a corporal in the guard whose life she corrupts and ruins and who eventually murders her. The Parisian opening night audience in March 1875 was hostile, shocked by the story, unaccustomed to its sexual suggestiveness and the exoticism of the music’s Spanish flavor.

The two Carmen suites do not specifically follow the opera's narrative, but like most suites based on ballet or opera combine the memorable melodies (which the opera has in abundance) into two compelling orchestral pieces.

listen to carmen suite no. 1

listen to carmen suite no. 2

José Evangelista - Symphonie Minute

After the anguish of Carmen, we get a brief time-out from the stresses of amor. Music with a Spanish flavor from a Spanish-Canadian composer: two movements from his “minute” (brief) symphony.

  • Born in Spain in 1943
  • He came to Canada in 1969 with two career options: physics and computing or music composer. Thankfully for us, music won out
  • While he admires the classical tradition and famous composers like Mozart & Beethoven, he prefers to write shorter works that focus more on melody than thematic development

We'll be performing 2 movements from Symphonie Minute, the slow Mélopée (Chant) the lively, Presto chromatique. Evantelista describes this piece as "transparent" music and agrees that this Symphonie Minute is like an ”anti-symphony,” but not a rejection of traditional symphonic form, instead, a distillation or compression of it.

listen to Symphonie Minute

Joaquin Rodrigo - Concierto de Aranjuez

Now we'll be joined by our amazing guest artist, guitarist Thierry Bégin-Lamontagne to perform Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, the best known concerto for guitar.

  • Born in Spain in 1901
  • He lost his sight at the age of 3 after contracting diptheria
  • Wrote all his music using Braille

The concerto’s title refers to the famous gardens and palace of Aranjuez south of Madrid, former summer residence of Spanish royalty. His title tells us about the music: that the work reflects the musical culture of the Spanish court as well as the rich tradition of Flamenco, the traditional music of Spain. For Rodrigo it is also a reflection of Amor, of deep feeling, not for a person but for the character of his homeland, music that captures, as he says, "the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains" in the gardens of Aranjuez.

listen to Concierto de Aranjuez

Arturo Márquez - Danzón No. 2 

Now our evening celebrating Amor comes to a close with the last dance, Danzón No. 2 by Arturo Márquez.

  • Born in Mexico in 1950
  • He has studied in Mexico, the US, France, and Spain
  • He has composed music for film, multimedia, and ballet, as well as for chamber groups, and orchestra
  • Much of his orchestral writing has been in the form of the Danzón, using its exciting rhythms, sensuous melodies and colourful instrumentation to celebrate the traditional dance music of Latin America

The Danzón is a Cuban partner-dance with a complex musical history embracing Spanish, French, African, Creole, and even English influences, the result of repeated colonization in the Caribbean. The Danzón has also become popular in Mexico, where Latin-American folk rhythms help shape its unique form. This Last Dance is not the slow shuffle that ended the high school prom, but is instead a sturdy and exhilarating dance, with rhythms that embrace the whole range of love—tenderness, strength and passion.

listen to Danzón no. 2