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Piano Concerto "Tomás de Merlo"
A US premiere by my orchestra, and a small-world moment for me
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
Sacramento, California

May 29, 2020 - 4:08 am
Member Since: November 5, 2017
Forum Posts: 1331
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I know modern classical isn't everyone's cup of tea, but this just went on YouTube this week and I wanted to share it. The Camellia Symphony Orchestra performed this in April 2019. I hope it helps to have an explanation of what inspired the music. And there's actually a bit of a funny small-world story around it.

This is the first US performance (and second-ever performance) of Xavier Beteta's piano concerto "Tomás de Merlo" which Camellia Symphony co-commissioned with the Guatemalan National Symphony Orchestra. The composer was also the piano soloist. Tomás de Merlo was a Baroque-era Central American artist whose six most famous paintings were all stolen from a Guatemalan church in 2014 and never recovered. The three movements of the concerto were titled after three of the stolen paintings.

As it turned out, we played the concert 12 days after the Notre Dame fire in Paris (of course we had no way of knowing this would happen), which meant the loss of cultural heritage was very much on people's minds at the time.

This is also one of my favorite moments performing music because I actually knew the pianist/composer beforehand for completely non-musical reasons. I first met Xavier Beteta not through music, but at a (non-musician) mutual friend's wedding in San Diego in 2014. Two days before the concert, our mutual friend texted me to give me a heads-up about Xavier coming up to Sacramento to perform his piano concerto, and said I should try to make it to the concert. I replied that I'd try to be there -- then took a picture with Xavier on stage after the concert, still holding my viola, and sent the picture back, with a text that went something like: "I made it after all! The viola section is one of the best seats in the house, if you don't mind doing a bit of work while you're listening."

I'm visible for almost all the time that the camera is behind the pianist.

I. La Oración en el Huerto (Agony in the Garden)

II. La Piedad (The Pietà)

III. El Rey de Burlas (The Mocking of Christ)

Regular advisor

May 29, 2020 - 11:43 am
Member Since: December 21, 2016
Forum Posts: 126
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Thanks for sharing @AndrewH - I enjoyed this very much. I think my favorite was El Rey de Burlas.


Come and let us reason together.

Sacramento, California

May 29, 2020 - 4:58 pm
Member Since: November 5, 2017
Forum Posts: 1331
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Glad you liked it!

May 30, 2020 - 1:06 am
Member Since: December 3, 2019
Forum Posts: 51
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I enjoyed these, too!  5-star post!  :)


May 30, 2020 - 8:03 am
Member Since: July 13, 2017
Forum Posts: 331
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@AndrewH I'm one of those that don't often appreciate "modern" classical music, but this music is quite hypnotic in a way. Appreciate the opportunity to expand my horizons :) I enjoyed listening.

BTW: Ask the conductor not to block our view of you so much ! ;)

Bob in Lone Oak, Texas


May 31, 2020 - 8:31 pm
Member Since: February 9, 2019
Forum Posts: 2036
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thanks for posting those @AndrewH!  Hopefully things will be in full swing again soon for you guys out there.

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