The Other Music In Mexico
by Juan Alberto Amézquita
In Mexico, we have an old musical tradition. Our classical music dates back to the 16th century, when the first composers who came from New Spain brought the styles that were trending in Europe, both in the field of sacred music and secular music. They combined them with melodies and instruments, first from the original people of Mexico, and later from the slaves brought from Africa. But if the reader is interested in getting a little more familiar with Mexican music for orchestral, from the 19th and 20th centuries, the best way to do so is to listen to the album My Mexican Soul, by the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, conducted by the talented director, Mexican Alondra de la Parra. This project was launched in 2010, as a tribute to Mexico for the celebration of the bicentennial of the beginning of the independence from the Spanish monarchy, as well as the centenary of the Mexican Revolution.
This double album, available on various streaming services, contains real gems and presents us with an extensive overview of Mexican music with pieces written between 1884 and 2003. The pieces from the 19th century show us how Mexican music closely followed the paths marked by the different musical movements in Europe. On the other hand, the works that date from the years after the Revolution to the threshold of the 21st century are testimony that our orchestral music achieved an autonomous and distinctive style, a true flavor of Mexico, by adopting popular genres, such as sandunga, danzón or the huapango, and elevating them to the symphonic plane. Also a source of inspiration is poets like Villaurrutia, or Guillén, who is Cuban, but reflects in his poetry resonances of the Caribbean..
Variety was one of the criteria followed, as de la Parra tells us in the brochure that accompanies the album. She incorporated a sample of those composers who could represent symphonic music in Mexico, although not always the best known work. For example, de la Parra says that she preferred to include “El Trópico”, a beautiful sandunga, which is part of Carlos Chávez's composition called “Caballos de vapor”, a celebration of the railroad and modernity written in 1954, instead to include the "Indian Symphony" by the same author. However, we may find the popular waltz “On the waves” (1884) by Juventino Rosas, “Sensemayá” (1938) by Revueltas, the well-known and much appreciated “Huapango” (1941) by Moncayo, or the “Danzón No. 2 ”(1994) by Márquez. Of the most recent pieces, it is worth mentioning “Íngesu” (2003), a colorful piece by Enrico Chapela that portrays the musicality of one of the most used insults in Mexico, plus the emotion and the fiery mood in a soccer match.Please take the opportunity to know this wonderful music.
Each melody is a little piece of Mexico that will remain in your heart as food for your spirit and joy for your ears.