The orchestra I play in is working on Danzon no. 2, by Arturo Márquez. Since I have written quite a bit in this blog about building an audience for new “classical” music, I am very proud to present this fairly recent (1994) crowd pleaser by a Mexican conductor who is a little younger than I am. Who says composers have to be dead in order to write good music. (Well, my father has been known to say that, and I’m sure plenty of concert goers agree with him.)
Márquez, son of a mariachi musician and grandson of a folk musician, was born in 1950 in Álamos, Sonora, Mexico. He started playing trombone there. His family moved to La Puente, California (near Los Angeles) in his late childhood, where he continued his musical training playing trombone in junior high school and high school. He also took violin lessons.
Returning to Mexico, he studied composition at the Taller de Composición of the Institute of Fine Arts of Mexico and also piano and theory at the Mexican Conservatory of Music. He also studied privately in Paris with Jacques Castérède and returned to the US to earn the MFA in composition from California Institute of the Arts.
By the beginning of the twenty-first century, Mexican orchestras frequently performed his music (including a series of six Danzons), but it was little known elsewhere. In 2007, Mexican conductor Gustavo Dudamel included Danzon no. 2 on the program of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra’s tour of the United States and Europe. The video below was recorded during that tour.
By this time, there are at least eight recordings of Danzon no. 2, including three by Dudamel and the Simon Boliver Youth Orchestra. Here’s one: Dudamel Discoveries. More than half a dozen of Márquez’s other works are also available.
I notice that the score and parts are available on rental only. I wonder if that practice on the part of so many publishers actually deters performances of attractive new music?