Salvadoran conductor, GJ symphony participate in musical exchange
By MELINDA MAWDSLEY
The United States and El Salvador are thousands of miles apart, but the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra plans to prove the countries have one thing in common.
“Music looks the same” in each country no matter the cultural differences, said Kirk Gustafson, the symphony’s music director.
Gustafson traveled to El Salvador in July 2008 to be a guest conductor for the national orchestra.
“Through music, we developed a mutual respect,” Gustafson said.
Now, it is time for El Salvador to participate in the musical exchange.
The Grand Junction symphony will be directed by German Caceres, conductor of the Orquesta de Camara de El Salvador, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, at Grand Junction High School.
Caceres arrived in Grand Junction on Monday to prepare for the concert that will feature two Latin American pieces that may be unfamiliar to local ears.
The symphony will play “Sinfonia en Re Mayor” by Salvadoran composer Escolastico Andrino and Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera’s “Estancia.” The symphony also will perform one piece that local ears likely will recognize: Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor.”
“It is one of the favorite pieces by orchestras around the world,” Caceres said.
But for this concert it will be a piece with added flair.
Brandon Lee, a Utah State University senior, will be the featured piano soloist for the concerto.
Lee won the symphony’s Young Artist Competition in March by playing the same Tchaikovsky concerto.
“I picked it back up a month ago,” Lee said. “What I’m trying to portray in the music continues to grow.”
The concerto is among “the greatest works for piano and orchestra in the piano repertoire,” Lee said.
Although Lee is well-versed in the Tchaikovsky piece, having played it off and on for four years, he is excited for this performance.
“I’m looking forward to how Mr. Caceres is going to interpret different markings in the music as opposed to working with other conductors in the past,” Lee said.
The Salvadoran conductor and composer met members of the Grand Junction symphony for the first time Monday, Oct. 19, and they planned four rehearsals, each 150 minutes long, before the Tuesday, Oct. 27, performance.
Gustafson is looking forward to playing in the symphony while Caceres conducts.
Caceres is not a stranger to working with American musicians as he received most of his musical education in the United States at The Juilliard School in New York City and the University of Cincinnati.
However, he brings a Latin American influence to the symphony that will be a treat to local music-lovers, Gustafson said.
The exchange between the symphony and El Salvador’s national orchestra is a relationship both Caceres and Gustafson want to continue, they said.
“It’s a special emotion to conduct an orchestra,” Caceres said. “It’s difficult to express it in words.”