The Hop Launches Second Music Mexico Symposium in Houston

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Dartmouth teams up with the University of Houston for event exploring Mexican music.

Two harp players in Mexico
Members of the Dartmouth Wind Ensemble perform with musicians from Mexico, as seen with these two harpists, at a rehearsal during their trip to Mexico City in March. (Photo by Katie Lenhart)

For three days, starting Thursday, May 18, the Hopkins Center for the Arts and the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston will convene musicians, performers, and scholars to explore the past and future of Mexican music and its representation in wind band literature and educational settings.

The second Music Mexico Symposium is part of Dartmouth’s ongoing Mexican Repertoire Initiative, led by Dartmouth Director of Bands Brian Messier, to enhance access to and appreciation for Mexican artists who are actively innovating and contributing to the evolution of wind music.

The initiative was first seeded by Messier launching the 2020 Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble Composition Competition, which aimed to encourage new works by composers living in Mexico and the United States.

Since then, the initiative has grown to include the Mexican Repertoire Collection, an open source, searchable, sortable database of authentic Mexican repertoire, the Mexican Composer Incubation Coalition, which offers composers from Mexico and other Latin American countries a year-long course to learn how to write for U.S.-style wind bands.

In March, the Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble went on its first tour of Mexico City. Led by Messier, the ensemble advanced the initiative’s goals by performing new and original Mexican works alongside local ensembles Banda Sinfónica FaM UNAM and CECAMBA. They finished the tour strong with a sold-out performance at La Sala Nezahualcóyotl.

“Curiosity made me question what I knew about Mexico and, in particular, Mexican music,” says Messier. “I quickly learned that there was a void of music for wind band by Mexican composers, a reality that did not align with the rich musical history and culture of the nation. Here we are three years later, bringing people together from across the U.S. and Mexico to have deepening conversations about the state of music in Mexico and how it is represented in the United States and beyond, and to enjoy original Mexican works by talented young composers.”

This year, as the Hop building undergoes a large-scale transformation, the symposium takes place at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music.

“We are thrilled to host the second symposium,” says University of Houston Associate Professor of Music Education Cory Meals. “Weaving together the threads of Dartmouth’s outstanding Mexican Repertoire Initiative, the University of Houston’s rich history of wind band performance and pedagogy, the thriving community of University of Houston’s Mariachi Pumas, and the dynamic and vibrant traditions of Oaxacan Philharmonic bands into a cohesive event where music educators, composers, conductors, scholars, and musicians can perform, interact, and learn speaks to the amazing potential for this event and the depth offered by the many musics of Mexico.”

The symposium will combine live concerts in Houston featuring exciting works by Mexican composers—such as Juan Pablo Contreras, Nubia Jaime Donjuan and Natalia Quintanilla—by a number of ensembles including the Dartmouth College Clarinet Choir, the University of Houston Wind Ensemble, and the University of Texas-El Paso Chamber Ensemble, among others.

The panel discussions and immersive workshops feature prominent experts in the field of Mexican culture, music, and wind band repertoire. Symposium registration includes tickets to attend the full schedule of events in person.

Music Mexico Opening Concert

May 18 at 7:30 p.m.

The Dartmouth College Clarinet Choir, under the direction of Brian Messier, and Borderlands Ensemble, led by Johanna Lundy, will be performing in the Dudley Recital Hall at the University of Houston. The event will feature the world premiere of works by renowned Mexican composers Jorge Ortega Sosa, Charles Daniels Torres, Rodrigo Martinez Torres, and Nubia Jaime Donjuan.

Tickets for the event in Houston are available through the Moores School of Music.

Music Mexico Concert II

May 19 at 7:30 p.m.

The University of Texas-El Paso Chamber Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Andrew Hunter and Dr. Brandon Houghtalen, and the Krimmel Intermediate Symphonic Band, led by Stetson Begin, are set to take the stage in a highly anticipated concert. The event will feature the world premiere of works by Mexican composers Fabrizio Herrera and Oscar Alcalá, and the American premieres of works by Natalia Quintanilla and Adalberto Avalos Cruz.

Tickets are available through the Moores School of Music.

Music Mexico Concert III

May 20 at 7:30 p.m.

The University of Houston Wind Ensemble, led by David Bertman, and the Mariachi Pumas, under the direction of Jose Longoria, are set to perform at an exciting concert. The event will feature premieres of works by renowned Mexican composers Nubia Jaime Donjuan, Erick Tapia, José Gurria-Cárdenas, and Latin Grammy-nominated composer Juan Pablo Contreras. The concert will culminate in a thrilling performance by the Mariachi Pumas that promises to electrify the audience. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience the best of Mexican music and culture.

Tickets are available through the Moores School of Music.

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