UPDATE 1/13/21: The Santa Barbara Symphony has announced that this weekend’s Fandango Picante performances featuring violin superstar Anne Akiko Meyers will be rescheduled, due to COVID. The performances, originally scheduled for January 15 at 7:30 p.m. and January 16 at 3 p.m., have been rescheduled to Sunday, May 1, at 4 p.m. and Thursday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m. at The Granada Theatre. Please see the press release here for full details.
ORIGINAL STORY: When the Santa Barbara Symphony returns to The Granada Theatre stage on the upcoming holiday weekend, the program will include two works by the great Mexican composer Arturo Márquez. One of them, the Danzón No. 2, is already well known. The other, a fiery and technically demanding new work called the Fandango violin concerto, appears poised to rival someday the Danzón No. 2 as the composer’s most famous composition. Márquez wrote Fandango during the pandemic for the violinist Anne Akiko Meyers. She premiered the piece with Gustavo Dudamel, leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in August 2021.
For Nir Kabaretti and the Santa Barbara Symphony, the collaboration represents an opportunity to reconnect with Meyers, who has appeared with the orchestra on multiple occasions, and to meet and congratulate the composer, Arturo Márquez, who plans to visit our city to attend rehearsals and will be present at the concerts. Other works on the program include the Capriccio Espagnol of Rimsky-Korsakov and excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen suite.
Meyers graciously agreed to answer some questions from the Independent by email.
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How do the three movements of Fandango interact? What overall impression do you strive to make with the piece? I approached the great Mexican composer Arturo Márquez to write a violin concerto based on mariachi traditions in 2018. Arturo was intrigued by the idea to write this concerto, as his father was a mariachi violinist who wooed his then-girlfriend with music. (She became his wife, the composer’s mother.)
The pandemic delayed the scheduled 2020 premiere, which gave time for changes in the score. The concerto title, Fandango, is taken from a popular Spanish dance, which is a fundamental part of flamenco. The three movements explore the many rhythms, moods, and techniques of different styles of dance from Mexico and Spain, including flamenco, huasteco, huapango, chaconne, and mariachi. It has great joy, soulfulness, and virtuosity throughout the score.
What outcome did you imagine when you initiated the conversation with Arturo Márquez that led to Fandango? Was the premiere at the Hollywood Bowl something you thought of initially, or was it different than what you expected? I typically start a new commission with the composer and the work, and after that, work on collaborations. A world premiere at Hollywood Bowl with Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Phil was a total dream come true, especially as the composer has deep connections to Maestro Dudamel and the Los Angeles community. The performance was quickly followed by dates with the Seattle Symphony and has a large number of exciting, soon-to-be-announced dates for next season.
Fandango may become part of the 21st-century repertoire for violin. What would you say to an orchestra considering it? And to a violinist? People will go wild for the Márquez concerto, which is a blockbuster! Audience members will walk out singing the tunes and dancing to the rhythms. Violinists — be prepared to practice like mad!