Hispanic music festival to take place at University of Michigan

A week-long music festival celebrating the music and musicians who blend Western classical traditions with those from Hispanic-Latino culture will take place at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from Sunday, January 29-Saturday, February 4, 2017.

César Cañón, student founder of En Español: Sounds from the Hispanosphere

Titled En Español: Sounds from the Hispanosphere, the entirely free festival is the first of its kind and was developed by César Cañón, a DMA pre-candidate in collaborative piano at the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD).

The festival will feature 13 different performances and events featuring students and faculty as well as Hispanic guest artists of many countries, including Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Canada and the United States.

The events will include a variety of recitals, orchestra concerts, master classes, and lectures, taking place at several SMTD venues on U-M’s North Campus, and in Hill Auditorium.

Celebrated guest artists performing on the festival include Duo Villalobos (Edwin Guevara and Cecilia Palma), a guitar-cello duo from Colombia and Venezuela; Puerto Rican pianist Jose Ramos Santana; Colombian accompanist and vocal coach Alejandro Roca; Venezuelan composer Ricardo Lorenz; Karla Donehew Perez and Paul Laraia, of the Catalyst Quartet; and violinist Hannah White, a first place laureate in the Sphinx Competition’s junior division.

Works by composers Astor Piazzolla, José Pablo Moncayo, Joaquin Turina, and Antonio Maria Valencia will be featured, along with many others.

A native of Colombia, César Cañón’s inspiration for creating the festival was U-M’s mission towards embracing and promoting inclusion and diversity on campus as part of the sociocultural offerings of its global community.

“I wanted to create a space in which we could put a spotlight on an ethnic group of which I am proudly a part of,” said Cañón. “Not only is it the largest ethnic minority in the U.S, but also the second largest at the University of Michigan. As such, it is worth creating a space in which we can share some of the creations of our lands of origin.”

Cañón said that it was odd to suddenly be a member of a minority, after arriving in the U.S., but he noticed that his colleagues at SMTD were curious and eager to learn about the cultural backgrounds of their peers. A music festival offered an ideal way to share some of that culture.

“The Spanish-speaking countries’ diversity is so huge and fascinating, that I decided to devote this event to showing that rich diversity,” he said. “I hope Hispanic-Latino students will find a sense of belonging in the festival’s events. By directing the spotlight towards them, we will promote discussion among their peers on the language-related and social implications of the rich history and cultural backgrounds of the Hispanosphere and its role in our art forms.”

Cañón credits a number of individuals and organizations in supporting him in his effort to bring the festival to fruition, including SMTD Dean Aaron Dworkin, SMTD professors Oriol Sans (conducting), Martin Katz (piano), and Louise Stein (musicology); and SMTD alumnus Dr. Horacio Contreras (DMA ’16, cello), from Venezuela, who shared the initial idea of creating the festival.

En Español: Sounds from the Hispanosphere is supported by SMTD’s EXCEL program (Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Career Empowerment & Leadership); the U-M Office of Academic and Multicultural Initiatives; and the Sphinx Organization.


En Español: Sounds of the Hispanosphere


Sunday, January 29

Guest Recital: Duo Villalobos (Edwin Guevara and Cecilia Palma, cello/guitar)

Walgreen Drama Center, Stamps Auditorium 7:30 PM

Specializing in music originally conceived for cello and guitar, Duo Villalobos also produce original pieces and arrangements of classical, contemporary, folk and traditional repertoire.

Monday, January 30

Faculty/Student Recital: Cañón-Contreras dúo, with Danielle Belen, violin

Earl V. Moore Building, Britton Recital Hall 8:00 PM

U-M alumnus Horacio Contreras (cello) and DMA student César Cañón (piano) join Professor Danielle Belen (violin) to perform trios by Joaquin Turina and Antonio Maria Valencia.

Tuesday, January 31

Guest Master Class: Jose Ramos Santana, piano

Earl V. Moore Building, Britton Recital Hall 4:30 PM

An acknowledged master of Spanish music, Santana shares his expertise with piano students.

Tuesday, January 31

Faculty/Guest Recital: Matthew Bengtson and Jose Ramos Santana, piano

Earl V. Moore Building, Britton Recital Hall 7:30 PM

Assistant professor of piano literature Matthew Bengtson and guest Jose Ramos Santana perform a recital of Latin American and Spanish music.

Wednesday, February 1

Guest Master Class: Alejandro Roca, pianist-vocal coach    

Walgreen Drama Center, Stamps Auditorium 5:00 PM

Alejandro Roca is developing a career as one of the most recognized accompanists and vocal coaches of his generation in South America.

Wednesday, February 1

University Philharmonia Orchestra

Hill Auditorium 8:00 PM

Oriol Sans, conductor

Duo Villalobos (Edwin Guevara and Cecilia Palma), soloists

“Spanish and Latin American Music Concert”

Pre-concert lecture at 7:15 PM in the lower lobby.

Thursday, February 2

Guest Lecture: Ricardo Lorenz, composer and musicologist

Walgreen Drama Center, Stamps Auditorium 5:00 PM

“It Takes Two to Tango: Musical Exploration of U.S./Latin America Relations.”

Thursday, February 2

Guest Recital: Khemia Ensemble: “Latin American Roots”

Earl V. Moore Building, McIntosh Theatre 8:30 PM

The eight members of Khemia Ensemble, representing five countries, seek to diversify and share the music of living composers.

Friday, February 3

Faculty Lecture: Louise K. Stein, musicology

Earl V. Moore Building, Glenn E. Watkins Lecture Hall 5:00 PM

“Cervantes, música divina, música de la jacarandina, and la música de dos orbes”

A lecture exploring the continuity of musical associations and conventions throughout the early modern Hispanic world in the time of Miguel de Cervantes, using both live and recorded musical examples.

Friday, February 3

Guest/Alumni Recital: Amy Petrongelli and Martha Guth, sopranos, Ricardo Lugo, bass and Alejandro Roca, piano

Walgreen Drama Center, Stamps Auditorium 8:00 PM

Saturday, February 4

Art Song Shared Studio Recital: Studios of Martin Katz and Richard Aaron

Walgreen Drama Center, Stamps Auditorium 5:00 PM

Students of Professors Martin Katz (piano) and Richard Aaron (cello) plus special guests in a vocal/cello program of songs en Español.

Saturday, February 4

Grand Finale: Sphinx Artists

Karla Donehew, violin; Paul Laraia, viola; Hannah White, violin

Earl V. Moore Building, Hankinson Rehearsal Hall 8:00 PM

Donehew and Laraia are members of the Catalyst Quartet, comprising top laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition; White was the 2015 First Place laureate of the Sphinx Competition’s junior division.