The School of Music at Texas Christian University will present the 11th Latin American Music Festival Oct. 9-12, paying homage to the life and music of Roque Cordero, the most influential Panamanian composer and one of the most prominent Latin American composers of the 20th century, on the 100-year anniversary of his birth. All concerts and recitals, which are free and open to the public, are at 7 p.m. in Ed Landreth Auditorium and the PepsiCo Recital Hall, both at 2800 S. University Dr., on the TCU campus. The Grand Finale Fiesta is at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, in the Brown-Lupton University Union Auditorium, 2901 Stadium Dr. on the TCU campus.
The highlight of the festival will be the world premiere of one of Cordero’s most ambitious pieces, “Cantata para la Paz.” The piece, commissioned in 1979 by the National Endowment for the Arts but never performed, pays tribute to four men who spoke of peace but were victims of violence – Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. The composition also honors all men and women who have fought for peace. The 42-minute piece will be performed by the TCU Symphony, the TCU Chorale and a bass-baritone soloist.
The Latin American Music Festival was established in 1998 to expose the TCU and Fort Worth communities to a musical (symphonic/choral/chamber) repertoire from one of the largest ethnic cultures in the United States. This year’s festival is a tribute to Cordero, who Germán Gutiérrez, director of orchestras, professor of orchestral studies and director of TCU’s Center for Latin American Music Studies, has long admired.
“I established the festival when I became director of orchestras at TCU,” said Gutiérrez. “The TCU School of Music is delighted to present “Cantata para la Paz” to its first audience, and I am thrilled the Fort Worth community will be the first to experience it. I think it’s especially important to recognize the peacemakers during this time of tense international relations.”
Cordero’s reputation as a composer has been highlighted by the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, one of the largest reference works on western music, and he has been included in several books on Latin American music. Cordero began writing music while still in high school, and founded the National Orchestra of Panama when he was 21. Many of Cordero’s compositions have been performed by leading orchestras in the Americas and Europe, and several have received international awards. The most interesting aspect of Cordero’s music is his use of Panamanian folk elements within contemporary European techniques.
The festival will culminate with a Grand Finale Fiesta, a collaboration among the TCU School of Music, the Discovering Global Citizenship program and TCU International Services. The fiesta will showcase the Mariachi Aguilas from the University of North Texas, the North Side High School Mariachi Espuelas de Plata, Ballet Folklorico Azteca de Fort Worth, Guitar Fort Worth and the Calirumba Dance Company, who will present dances from different regions of Colombia and Panama and teach salsa steps to attendees, who may then dance to the live salsa band.