ABOUT THE FESTIVAL

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 March 4 and 5, in a highlight of Part I of the orchestra’s two-concert Festival of Latin American Music. Part II continues March 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, and two 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 March 4-5 concerts featuring Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances,” from “West Side Story,” and the March 11-12 concerts capped with the “Cuban Overture,” by George Gershwin.

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

“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.”

Abrams notes that the Festival’s new commissions re-affirm 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 in1953.

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 has 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.

CONCERT LINKS TO LEARN MORE

Festival of Latin American Music #1
Friday, March 4 at 11AM at Kentucky Center
Saturday, March 5 at 8PM at Kentucky Center

Festival of Latin American Music #2
Friday, March 11 at 11AM at Kentucky Center
Saturday, March 12 at 8PM at Kentucky Center

Concierto de Aranjuez
Thursday, March 24 at 7:30PM at The Temple
Friday, March 25 at 7:30PM at The Jeffersonian
Saturday, March 26 at 7:30PM at The Ogle Center at IUS