Music Makes The People Come Together

Sharon Isbin, Miguel Del Aguila Perform Two Michigan Shows

By Kate Opalewski

For Miguel del Aguila, one of the most rewarding aspects of being a composer is bringing people together with his music.

"You can have your music performed in China or Germany and even if this music may sound exotic to them, they will understand it and they will feel it as if that were their music because that's the music they are listening to at the moment. Nothing like music illustrates better the fact that even though we all look and act so different, people around the world are all very similar," says Aguila.

The Michigan Philharmonic welcomes the California-based composer along with America's leading classical guitarist, Sharon Isbin, for opening night performances on Oct. 5 at the Seligman Performing Arts Center in Beverly Hills and on Oct. 6 at The Village Theater at Cherry Hill in Canton.

Aguila is in town for the Michigan premiere of his work "The Giant Guitar, inspired by the instrument he loves and grew up with in Montevideo, Uruguay.

"Having lived the first 20 years of my life in South America, I can't think of a guitar without associating its music to my early memories there. I often view South America as a giant guitar: friendly, sentimental, nostalgic, apparently weak, and yet concealing a great power only suggested by occasional rasgueado chords or historical revolutions, as in the political events of the 1970s," says Aguila, who lived in Vienna, Austria for 10 years before returning to the U.S. in 1992. The Los Angeles Times critics welcomed him as "one of the West Coast's most promising and enterprising young composers."

Aguila was recently honored by the Recording Academy with two Latin Grammy nominations for his CD Salon Buenos Aires and for his composition "Clocks."

"I am very excited about this performance and looking forward to the rehearsals as well," he says, adding that "The Giant Guitar" title actually refers to the shape of the South American continent, which resembles that of an upside-down guitar. "The guitar's open-strings theme is introduced at the beginning of the piece and it slowly takes us through many landscapes and dramatic historical events. One of these events being the 'Dirty War' where millions were murdered by militaristic governments all over South America. This is the time I had to emigrate to the U.S. I have never returned to South America since. 'The Giant Guitar' is not only a tribute to the instrument and to the people of the continent, but it also denounces and it accuses, or at the very least it reminds us of what tyrants are capable of."

"I look forward to meeting Miguel del Aguila, hearing his music for the first time, and discovering what a giant guitar for orchestra sounds like," says multiple Grammy Award winner Sharon Isbin, acclaimed for her extraordinary lyricism, technique and versatility. Special guest Isbin will perform Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuaz, written in 1939 to become Rodrigo's most famous and recognizable work.

"It's music that truly embodies the passion, yearning and joy of the Spanish soul. When Rodrigo and his wife lost what would have been their first child, he returned each night from visiting his wife at the hospital, not knowing if she would live or die, and consoled himself at the piano by playing the beautiful theme from the second movement Adagio. She recovered and they went on to have many happy decades together. I had the honor of meeting them both in Madrid when I performed the concerto as a winner of the Queen Sofia Competition, and we enjoyed a 20-year friendship," recalls Isbin.

"I greatly admire Sharon's musicality and talent and I'm thrilled to share the evening with her music, especially hearing her play one of my most beloved guitar concertos," says Aguila.

The musical tour concludes with Czech composer Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 7, a dark, mysterious piece journeying through Bohemian dance rhythms and lyrical folk melodies, and ultimately closing with its triumphant finale.

"The Michigan Philharmonic is excited to be expanding their programming and reaching new audiences by performing in great new venues such as Seligman Performing Arts Center and the Carr Center in Detroit," says Michigan Philharmonic Executive Director Beth Stewart. According to Stewart, the Southeast Michigan professional symphony orchestra featuring Nan Washburn, music director and conductor since 1999, will bring its events into an ever-expanding roster of Michigan communities, including Plymouth, Canton, Birmingham-Bloomfield, the Grosse Pointes, downtown Detroit, and many others.

"I've had the pleasure of working with the Michigan Philharmonic and Nan Washburn many years ago when they did my Conga," says Aguila. "I seldom heard musicians play my music with such enthusiasm and drive. Nan is one of my favorite conductors and I wouldn't miss this concert for anything."

Miguel del Aguila and Sharon Isbin

7:30 p.m. Oct. 5

Seligman Performing Arts Center, Beverly Hills

7:30 Oct. 6

The Village Theater at Cherry Hill, Canton

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