Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Intermezzo : Sunday, October 12 @ 3pm

Canciones de Amor

Regina Torres, mezzo-soprano
Pablo Pomales-Ojeda, tenor 
Bonita Sonsini Wyke, piano
Joseph Hanson, guitar

Sebastián Yradier
El Arreglito
[concert recording]

Joaquín Turina
Poema en forma de canciones
1. Dedicatoria (Piano solo)
2. Nunca olvida
3. Cantares
[concert recording]

Enrique Granados
Tonadillas al estilo antiguo
1. Amor y odio
5. El majo tímido
9. La maja dolorosa II
[concert recording]

Federico Moreno Torroba
Cállate, corazón! (From Luisa Fernanda)
[concert recording]

Alberto Ginastera
Cancion al arbol del olvido

Miguel Sandoval
Sin tu amor

Carlos Guastavino
La rosa y el sauce

Elpidio Ramirez
La Malagueña

Carlos Gardel
The Argentine Tango
El Día Que Me Quieras
Mi Buenos Aires Querido/Por Una Cabeza (arr. Torres)

Carlos Varela
Una Palabra

Noel Estrada
En mi Viejo San Juan

Alberto Dominguez

Consuelo Velázquez
Besame Mucho

Antônio Carlos Jobim
La Niña de Ipanema


Described as a “tour de force of vocal virtuosity married to a fabulous stage presence” (Captain Classics–WFCF, St Augustine), mezzo-soprano Regina Torres wields her voice with equal acclaim in opera and musical theater. Her powerful and beautiful sound has thrilled audiences in her portrayals of such vastly different roles as the gypsy Azucena in Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music. As a comedienne, Ms. Torres has brought down the house as the evil-rapping Witch in Into the Woods and the gingerbread-gobbling, broomstick-riding Ogress in Hansel and Gretel. Her comedic talents have proven perfectly suited to Gilbert and Sullivan, with acclaimed performances as "Counsel for the Plaintiff" (Trial by Jury), "Duchess of Plaza-Toro" (The Gondoliers), and "Little Buttercup" (HMS Pinafore). On the more serious side, Ms. Torres has been soloist for large-scale choral works including Messiah, Elijah, and Mozart’s Requiem.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Florida and a Performance Diploma in Voice from the Indiana University School of Music.

Tenor Pablo Pomales-Ojeda earned his music degree from the Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico. Before moving to the U.S. he served as Chorus Master with Opera de Puerto Rico Company, and his numerous stage appearances included “Monostatos” in Mozart's Die Zauberflote and “Kaspar” in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors.  As a featured soloist with the Puerto Rico Symphony, engagements included Haydn's The Sancti Nicolai Mass and Domenico Zipoli's Mass in F. With Shreveport Opera in Louisiana Mr. Pomales-Ojeda has performed the roles of “Peter” in Jesus Christ Superstar, “Benvolio” in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette and “The Second Nazarene” in Strauss's Salome, and also was guest soloist for The Times Fourth of July Celebration. Since arriving on the First Coast, Pablo has appeared in the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's productions of Puccini's La Boheme (as “Parpignol”) and Turandot (as "The Emperor"), as well as Verdi's La Traviata (as “Giuseppe”), and has been a featured soloist with Bella Voce Cabaret and The Palm Courts Society Orchestra.

Bonita Sonsini Wyke has been an active part of the Jacksonville music community since 1985, and in working with many of the First Coast's leading vocalists, instrumentalists and musical ensembles has earned the reputation as a musician of unsurpassed sensitivity, technical skill and artistry. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she has performed for over four decades as a collaborative pianist and harpsichordist with singers, choral groups, instrumental soloists, and orchestral and instrumental ensembles, and especially enjoys four-hand piano literature. She has been the music director for a wide variety of stage productions, including opera, musical theater and ballet.  In addition to coaching seasoned performers, Ms. Sonsini Wyke has helped student musicians hone their craft at a number of area universities and music schools. While maintaining a busy recital schedule, Bonita also currently serves as Staff Choral Accompanist at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Joseph Hanson started playing the violin at age eight, and added piano and trumpet after joining school band. At age 14, he picked up a guitar for the first time and has never put it down since. While attending Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and Florida State College, Joseph began playing with many of Jacksonville's finest young musicians in a number of rock and jazz bands, and earned a reputation as a solid player comfortable in a variety of musical environments. He now teaches both guitar and piano through the Joseph Hanson Guitar Studio in Orange Park, and has a new jazz-rock fusion band in development.


Sebastián Yradier (born Sebastián Iradier Salaverri, 1809-1865) might not be a name you recognize, but you will recognize his El Arreglito (The Little Deal) as the inspiration for perhaps the most famous aria in all of French opera.  The Habañera from Bizet's Carmen appeared ten years after Yradier had died in obscurity, and when Bizet discovered that his borrowed melody was Yradier's and not a folk song he added a note to the vocal score about the tune's original publication--without, however, crediting Yradier.  Another of Yradier's habaneras, La Paloma, has remained a popular hit (especially in Latin America), and is said to be among the few songs that rival The Beatle's Yesterday as the most-recorded song in the world. (Two others with similar claims are Bésame mucho and The Girl from Ipanema at the end of today's program.)

Spanish composer and pianist Joaquín Turina (1882-1949) began his musical education in his hometown of Seville before moving to Madrid to study piano at the conservatory there. He then lived in Paris from 1905-1914, studying composition at the Schola Cantorum with Vincent D'Indy.  Turina received encouragement from leading French composers including Debussy, Ravel and Dukas, but the advice of the Spanish composers Manuel de Falla and Isaac Albéniz most benefited his career.  Turina's fellow expatriates convinced him to create nationalistic works that consciously exploited distinctly "Spanish" characteristics, and in their company Turina is recognized as a leading Spanish composer of their generation. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914 Turina returned to Madrid, where in 1917 he composed the song cycle Poema en forma de canciones (Poem in the Form of Songs), op. 19, with accompaniment for either piano solo or orchestra.  The complete cycle includes four songs on poems by Ramòn Maria de las Mercedes de Campoamor y Campoosorio (1817-1901), preceded by the introductory Dedicatoria (Dedication) for piano solo, which sets the folksy tone for the songs that follow.

Enrique Granados (1867-1916) was born in the Catalonia region of Spain, and his music is so characteristically "Spanish" that he is regarded as one of his homeland's most representative composers. Granados was one of the greatest concert pianists of his time so it is not surprising that piano music dominates his compositional output, including perhaps his most famous work is Goyescas (1902-11), a suite inspired by the paintings of Francisco Goya.  Granados's Tonadillos en estilo antigua (Little Songs in Olden Style, 1914) is said to represent the "peak in the Spanish song repertoire." Written for different voice types and also including a duet, the songs do not form a song cycle per se, but all the texts are by Spanish poet Fernando Periquet (1873-1940), and all center on the life and loves of majos and majas, the men and women of Madrid.

A majo himself, in 1918 Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982) had the good fortune to be introduced to Andrés Segovia (1893-1987), the legendary Spanish guitarist who inspired the renaissance of classical guitar music in the 20th century. Segovia asked Moreno Torroba to write him a piece (Dance in E Major, 1918), the success of which led to about 80 more guitar works and a lifelong association that provided the composer with international exposure. In addition to ballets, piano music and songs, and choral and orchestral music, Moreno Torroba wrote about 80 operas and zarezuelas, a type of Spanish operetta with spoken dialog amid the musical numbers. The most popular of these, as well as one of the most popular operettas of all time, is Luisa Fernanda (1932), which had been given over 10,000 performances by the end of the 20th century. With a libretto by Federico Romero (1886-1976) and Guillermo Fernández Shaw (1893-1965), the on-again off-again romance between Luisa and her soldier boyfriend Javier is set in Madrid in 1868, just as revolutionaries are gathering steam to oust Queen Isabella II from the throne.  Shortly before the final curtain the now-banished Javier sneaks back to Madrid to convince Luisa to run away with him. In Cállate, corazón! (Be still, my heart!), Luisa confesses she still loves him, but will not break the vow she has already made to marry another. (Luckily, her fiancé has been eavesdropping and releases her, realizing he will never be able to make her truly happy.)

Regarded as one of the most important classical composers of South America, Argentina’s Alberto Ginastera (1910-1981) was the son of immigrants from Catalonia (his father) and Italy (his mother), and the composer retained the Catalan pronunciation of the family name (i.e., with the “G” pronounced like an English “j,” as in “genius”). Ginastera grouped his music into three stylistic periods: “Objective Nationalism” (1934-48), “Subjective Nationalism” (1948-58), and “Neo-expressionism” (1958-81). While his later works make use of atonal serialism and other techniques common to composers of his generation, he still retained rhythm elements inspired by the folk music of his homeland. Composed in 1938 during his first stylistic period, Ginastera's beautiful Canción al árbol del olvido (Song to the Tree of Oblivion) is the first of Dos canciones ("Two Songs"), op. 3.  The text is by Uruguayan poet, author and playwright Fernán Silva Valdés (1887-1975). The poet patterned his verses after the vidala and vidalita, types of South American folk-songs that traditionally repeat the word "vidalita" as a refrain after the first and third lines of each verse, or, as in this case, just after the third.

In 1918 composer and pianist Miguel Sandoval (1902-1953) left his homeland in Guatemala for New York City with only $50 and dream, but by the time of his death 35 years later his contribution to the musical life of his adopted country was so significant that his passing was reported on the front page of the New York Times. He had been an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, and in 1926 began appearing as a pianist in recitals with many of the eras leading international opera stars. He worked with the New York Philharmonic, and also as composer, conductor and pianist for the Columbia Broadcasting System. Sandoval toured the United States as collaborative pianist and opera conductor, and later rekindled ties to Guatemala where he worked in radio broadcasting and helped establish a national opera company.  In addition to concert pieces, Sandoval composed popular songs and music for Hollywood films. Sin tu amor (Without Your Love) was composed in 1936 with a decidedly flamenco flair, and has been included in several art song anthologies.

Woman of my life, come to me.

Without your love, what use is living?
Without ever seeing the joy in your eyes,
Without ever seeing the smile on your lips,
What use is living?

Unless you are mine my life has no meaning.
If another gazes into your eyes,
If your kisses belong to another,
My life has no meaning.

But with your love, with your eyes looking at me
With your red lips saying to me, "I love you,"
I would be happy to spend a lifetime at your feet
Whispering "I adore you."

                                                                              -- English Translation c2014, by Edward Lein

In its obituary for Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000), the UK's Guardian referred to the composer as "perhaps the most quietly distinctive [voice] in 20th-century Argentinian music." Though internationally less well-known than his countrymen Ginastera and Piazzolla, Guastavino's popularity was such that he made a living solely from his compositions. In addition to numerous national awards, he won a scholarship from the British Council to tour Britain and to work with the BBC, and he also toured China and the Soviet Union. Influenced by Falla, Albeniz and the French Impressionists, Guastavino continued the nationalistic tradition of 19th-Century Argentine composers and vociferously rejected what he called the "nastiness" and "falsification" of atonal music. Even though this conservative view put him outside the Modern mainstream, Guastavino significantly influenced many younger Argentine composers, most especially in the area of popular music. His catalog ranges from solo piano and guitar pieces to chamber music, choral music and orchestral compositions, but it is for his 150 (or so) songs that he is most remembered. Among his best-known songs is La rosa y el sauce (The Rose and the Willow), composed in 1942 on a text by Francisco Silva.

The blossoming rose 
Embraced the willow.
The passionate tree
Did Love her so!
But a brazen girl
did steal the bloom,
so the forlorn willow

                                    -- English Translation c2014, by Edward Lein

Although attributed to Elpidio Ramirez Burgos (1882-1960) and Pedro Galindo (1906-1989) when published in 1947, the tune of  La Malagueña (The Girl from Malaga, a.k.a. Malagueña Salerosa) is most likely a Mexican folk song.  Regardless, the pair popularized it and it now has been recorded by at least 200 musical artists from around the world, and was used in Quentin Tarantino's film, Kill Bill Vol. 2.

Called the "most prominent figure in the history of tango," French-born Argentine singer, songwriter and movie actor Carlos Gardel (1890-1935) is so highly regarded as a Latin-music legend that he was honored with a commemorative stamp by the U.S. Postal Service in 2011.  Gardel was at the height of his international popularity when he died in a plane crash in 1935, and legions of fans paid their respects in New York, Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo before he was finally laid to rest in Buenos Aires. Killed in the same crash was Alfredo Le Pera (1900-1935), who provided lyrics for Gardel's original songs, as well as the scripts for his motion pictures.  Volver (To Return), a song hit for Gardel and Le Pera in 1934, is credited as the source of the popular Spanish saying, "veinte años no es nada" ("twenty years are nothing"). Their often-recorded El Día Que Me Quieras (The Day That You Fall for Me), featured in Gardel's 1935 motion picture with the same title, was inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001, and Mi Buenos Aires Querido (My Beloved Buenos Aires, 1934) provided the title and music for a film released the year after their deaths.  Por Una Cabeza (By a Head, 1935) may be the most-recognizable tango ever, thanks to inclusion in numerous TV shows and movies such as Scent of a Woman, Schindler's List, Titanic, and Frida, which used Gardel's own recording playing on a radio in the background.

Volver (To Return)

El Día Que Me Quieras

Mi Buenos Aires Querido

Por una cabeza

Music is not going to move governments. But it might move people. And people can move governments.” So said Carlos Varela (b. 1963),  referred to as "Cuba's Bob Dylan" by the New York Times. In 2004, Varela received international exposure when his band was invited to tour Europe with American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne.  Though the Havana native's songs have been used in several Cuban films, the folk-like Una palabra (One Word) is probably the one best known in the United States, thanks to its inclusion in the movies Powder Keg (2001, with Clive Owen) and Man on Fire (2004, with Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning).

A government official by day, Puerto Rican composer Noel Estrada (1918-1979) wrote over 600 musical compositions, but his international fame rests mainly with one ballad, En mi Viejo San Juan (In My Old San Juan).  Written in 1943 during World War II, it was composed for Estrada's brother, a soldier stationed in Panama who had requested a song that would help relieve his homesickness.  The tune has been recorded many, many times in different guises ranging from boleros and tangos to a disco version in 1977,  coincidentally the same year it was formally recognized as the official song of the City of San Juan.  It also is regarded as a second national anthem by many Puerto Ricans, especially those living apart from Borinquen (the ancient name for the island).

According to the Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico (SACM), Alberto Domínguez (1907-1975) was six years old when he wrote his first song--and ran away home.  He became a noted pianist, conductor and composer, and along with Frenesi (Frenzy) the many recordings of his song Perfidia (Perfidy, or Treachery) broke international sales records during the 1940s. Glenn Miller said it was the most-requested song among U.S. troops fighting abroad, and it likewise was played by virtually every other big band leader (Xavier Cugat, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, etc.).  It has been equally popular with jazz artists (Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson, etc.) and so many others, ranging from Freddy Fender and Linda Ronstadt to the Ray Conniff Singers and Andrea Bocelli.  Domínguez received national and international awards for his music, and was a Vice President of SACM.

Mexican composer, pianist, singer and sometimes actress Consuelo Velázquez (1916?-2005) began her career as a concert pianist in 1938.  Three years later she wrote Bésame mucho (Kiss Me a Lot), a Cuban-style bolero that brought her international fame. It was named "Song of the Century" by Spanish television in 1999, and with over two million performances at the time of her death (according to BMI) that maybe isn't too big a stretch.  Velázquez based her tune on Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor (Complaints, or the Maiden and the Nightingale), from Granados's piano suite, Goyescas, Book 2 (1911; and his opera of the same name, 1916). Following its many recordings during the big-band 1940s, Bésame mucho has been interpreted by countless, incredibly diverse musicians, among them Elvis Presley, Connie Francis, The Platters, Sammy Davis Jr., The Beatles, Chris Isaak, Celine Dion, Diana Krall, Placido Domingo and 101 Strings.

Antônio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994) is called the "Gershwin of Brazil" (but probably only by Americans).  He virtually created the bossa nova style of jazz that became a sensation during the 1960s. Jobim achieved international stardom thanks in no small part to his collaborations with American Jazz saxophonist Stan Getz beginning in 1963, whose recording of The Girl from Ipanema won the 1965 Grammy Award for  Record of the Year. The song has inspired a great many recorded interpretations in numbers rivaling The Beatle's Yesterday, with singers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Amy Winehouse. The original Portuguese lyrics for "Garota de Ipanema" are by Vinícius de Moraes (1913-1980), and the well-known recorded English version is by Norman Gimbel (b. 1927).

La niña de Ipanema (a.k.a. La chica de Ipanema)

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