Latin IS America Festival 2013

MSU's inaugural Latin IS America festival explored interwoven cultures

An enriching roster of music, film, and scholarly discussions by nationally and internationally renowned guests was presented to the community through a series of unique events in April 2013.

Festival Introduction  |  Jazz and Steelband  |  Film: Dream Havana  |  Faculty Recital  
Wind Symphony Concert  |  Musicologist Lecture  |  Symphony Orchestra Concert 

Festival Introduction

MSU College of Music faculty colleagues Ricardo Lorenz, Etienne Charles and Mark Sullivan collaborated with campus and community partners to create the event, which ran April 15 through April 27. Events included concerts featuring steel pan jazz groups, wind symphony, saxophone, piano, and symphony orchestra with choral ensembles, as well as a film screening and lecture.

The festival entertained and strengthened the perspective that Latin American and U.S. cultures are increasingly intertwined, while examining arts and cultural connections through different events. Attendance exceeded expectations and plans are in the works to continue the festival in 2014 and 2015.

“Our objective is always to be inclusive,” says Dean James Forger of the MSU College of Music. “We wanted to provide a transformative and educational experience for our students and the community, not just one concert at a time but through a series of events that build bridges and develop a broader understanding. Latin IS America provided an excellent opportunity to accomplish this.”

The festival was supported through a grant from the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and reflects the university’s commitment to global engagement, diversity, and community outreach. The festival was coordinated by the MSU College of Music in collaboration with multiple campus and community organizations including the Department of Romance and Classical Studies, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Department of Theatre, MSU Department of Social Science, the Chicano/Latino Studies Program, and the East Lansing Film Society.

Press release about 2013 festival.  2013 Latin IS America program.

Jazz and Steelband

CONCERT: Monday April 15, 2013
Steel pan master Andy Narell joined calypso guitarist and singer Relator, featuring music from the CD University of Calypso; with MSU Jazz Orchestra I, Oakland University Steel band & Mott Steelheads Steel Orchestra.

Watch the concert below or click here to YouTube.

Film: Dream Havana

FILM SCREENING: Wednesday April 17, 2013
Award-winning film Dream Havana by Chicago native Gary Marks. Marks presented a screening and discussion of his 2007 documentary Dream Havana. This short film told the story of Cuban writers Ernesto Santana and Jorge Mota—two life long friends who are separated when more than 33,000 people escaped Cuba by sea in the 1990s. Dream Havana reveals how one friend stayed and the other left, and maps their struggles, successes and their bond to one another.

Watch the film talk with Gary Marks below or click here to YouTube.

Faculty Recital

FACULTY RECITAL: Wednesday April 24, 2013
International faculty recital of music from around the world featured performances by saxophonist James Forger and pianist Deborah Moriarty of compositions by Maureen Reyes Lavastida (Cuba) for saxophone and piano, Ricardo Lorenz (America) for solo piano, and guest composer Vache Sharafyan (Armenia) for saxophone and cello, with faculty artist Suren Bagratuni. Guest Maureen Reyes Lavastida, is one of Cuba’s leading composers and faculty member at Cuba’s Higher Education Institute of Arts. Her style combines influences from Cuban and American music, incorporating both popular and classical styles.

Watch the concert below or click here to YouTube.

Wind Symphony Concert

CONCERT: Thursday April 25, 2013
MSU Conductor Kevin Sedatole lead the MSU Wind Symphony in picturesque modern works that illustrate the blend of Latin American and U.S. cultures. Selections include compositions by Silvestre Revueltas, Michael Colgrass, Arturo Márquez, and MSU’s Ricardo Lorenz.

Through meter and rhythm, Revueltas’ Sensemayá—a miniature tone poem—depicts the hunt of a snake, a sacrifice followed by a celebration. Lorenz’s work, El Muro, represents different styles of Latin music in a sound structure made up of tightly woven riffs while dramatically symbolizing the walls that separate people and classes. Winds of Nagual, based on the writings of Carlos Castaneda, captures the mood and atmosphere of the writings while conveying the relationship of the characters—a Yaqui Indian sorcerer and a young man of the technological age. Márquez was inspired to compose Danzón No. 2 when he experienced the wild rhythms of dance in Veracruz. In his words: “I was fascinated and I started to understand that the apparent lightness of the danzón is only like a visiting card for a type of music full of sensuality and qualitative seriousness, a genre which old Mexican people continue to dance with a touch of nostalgia and a jubilant escape towards their own emotional world.”

Musicologist Lecture

GUEST LECTURE : Friday April 26, 2013
Professor of Ethnomusicology Robin Moore from the University of Texas at Austin examined how a fascinating dance and musical genre from Cuba has affected the development of later musical forms such as chachachá, mambo, and early jazz. He highlighted the parallels between danzón performance and New Orleans bands, and explored the similar forms, rhythms, and styles that exist between danzón and jazz repertoire. Moore is the recipient of numerous awards including fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Humanities Center. His primary research and interests include music and nationalism, music and race relations, popular music study, and socialist art aesthetics.

RECEPTION: Salsa Verde
The lecture was follwed by 
an entertaining reception of ethnic food and salsa music. Patrons danced to the rhythms of Salsa Verde, from founding faculty members David Wullaert and Jon Weber. Members of Salsa Verde have played with groups such as Orquesta Ritmo, Aye, Sobroso, Mariachi Kora, Groupo Varidad Folklorico, Thom Jayne and the Nomads, and H2.

Watch professor Moore’s lecture below, or click here to YouTube.

Watch the panel discussion with MSU College of Music faculty members below, or click here to YouTube.

Symphony Orchestra Concert

CONCERT: Saturday April 27, 2013
MSU Associate Director of Choral Programs Jonathan Reed and Director of Bands Kevin Sedatole will led MSU Symphony and four MSU choral ensembles in a selection of works by two renowned 20th century composers.

With the stunning success of his first orchestral work, Overture to The School for Scandal (1931-1933), Samuel Barber was recognized as one of the most promising talents of his generation. Based on Richard Sheridan’s play “School for Scandal” (1777), the overture is a thoroughly modern work with no concessions to eighteenth century pastiche, the composition possesses all the glitter and panache of a true theater piece and remains a firm favorite with concert audiences.

A composition by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) highlighted his gift for creating works that combine singing and spoken word with his classically influenced compositions for orchestral and choral groups.