by Marilou Carlin12/01/2011
The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance will explore the life and music of Alberto Ginastera, the leading Argentinian composer of the twentieth century, with a multi-day music festival in December. Titled “¡Viva Ginastera!” (Dec. 6 – Dec. 11), the festival will present multiple lectures and concerts, featuring a variety of U-M ensembles, in celebration of a composer, known for his intense rhythmic energy and captivating lyricism, who was significantly connected to U-M at the height of his career.
The “¡Viva Ginastera!” centerpiece will be the world premiere of Ginastera’s Concierto Argentino, written in 1935 but then withdrawn by the composer. It will be performed by renowned pianist and SMTD alumna Barbara Nissman (BM ’66, MM ’66, DMA ’69) with the University Symphony Orchestra and conducted by music director Kenneth Kiesler, recently named winner of The American Prize for conducting. This concert, on Saturday, December 10 at 8 p.m. at Hill Auditorium (with a pre-concert lecture beginning at 7:15 p.m.), will also include Ginastera’s popular Piano Concerto No. 1, written in 1962, and his Piano Concerto No. 2, from 1972, which has been restored to its original version by Nissman. All three works will be recorded by Nissman and the USO for later release.
“The diversity between these three compositions, written for piano and orchestra, is quite stunning,” said Nissman. “The sheer physical act of playing his piano music has a cathartic effect, providing a release of raw, earthy emotions that seem to transcend thought.”
Recognized as one of the most important of all Latin American classical composers, Alberto Ginastera (April 11, 1916 – June 25, 1983) wrote two ballets, three operas and many orchestral works, concertante, solo piano and organ pieces, choral works and chamber music. He is considered as important in giving his native folk heritage a voice in art music in Argentina as Bartók was in Hungary.
In addition to the piano concerto performances, the festival will include a Brown Bag Lecture titled “Remembering Alberto Ginastera” with Kenneth Kiesler and Barbara Nissman (Dec. 6 at 1:30 p.m.); a lecture by Michigan State University professor of musicology Carol Hess, titled "Alberto Ginastera and the Cold War: A 'Musical McNamara' in the United States” (Dec. 8 at 1 p.m.); a concert of Ginastera music featuring the U-M Percussion Ensemble, the University Philharmonic Orchestra and student piano soloist Jovanni-Rey V. de Pedro (Dec. 9 at 8 p.m.); and a concert titled “A Tribute to Alberto Gianstera” by the Michigan Chamber Players (Dec. 11 at 8 p.m.). All events are free and no tickets are required. For complete information on the festival, read the press release.