Last updateFri, 15 Apr 2016 10am

‘Native son’ arrives from New York to conduct state orchestra at Degollado

As the eighth program in its first season of 2016, the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) presents an exceptional concert of music this weekend by Schubert, Ponce and Gomezanda, directed by Guadalajara-born Alejandro Hernandez, who comes from a musically prominent Tapatio family but distinguished himself abroad as a director and pianist.

“It’s my first time conducting the JPO and what an honor to conduct the orchestra I grew up listening to,” said Hernandez, who is the brother of renowned pianist and director of the Jalisco State Choir (Coro del Estado), Sergio Hernandez, and the son of the former principal bass player of the state orchestra.

Hernandez has returned to Guadalajara this week from New York, where he is director of the respected music program at the nearly-200-year-old All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, as well as artistic director of Viva Musica, a 40-year-old choir based at the same church. Earlier, he and his wife, pianist Grace Cho, lived in Washington, D.C., where they, along with friends, founded the New Orchestra of Washington.

“We’ve been having rehearsals here all week,” said Hernandez, “and of course I’ve been very busy with that, plus visiting with my family and introducing my little boy to them.” Hernandez’s 8-month-old son, Santiago, has accompanied him, along with Cho. 

“I come here regularly, usually for some musical project, and every time I do, I get a little more confused about how to get around. But Guadalajara still has the same flavor, and the food is wonderful.”

The program, to be performed on a new schedule being inaugurated this weekend (Thursday, April 7, 8:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 10, 12:30 p.m.), consists of Antonio Gomezanda’s “Fantasía Mexicana para piano y orquesta,” Manuel Ponce’s, “Balada Mexicana” and two works by Franz Schubert: the Symphony No. 6 in C major (called the “little” symphony, to distinguish it from his Ninth Symphony) and the Symphony No. 8 in B minor, called the “Unfinished.” 

“The unfinished is Schubert’s most famous symphony,” said Hernandez. “There are two gorgeous movements, and nobody knows exactly why he didn’t finish it.”

Hernandez, himself a pianist, will direct three of the works on the program, including Gomezanda’s “Fantasía Mexicana para piano y orquesta” with solo pianist José Kamuel Zepeda, and the two famous Schubert symphonies.

Bolstering the program’s focus on Jalisco talent, a youth orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de Guadalajara, will join the JPO in playing the two Schubert symphonies. In addition, the youth orchestra alone, directed by Juan Tucán Franco, will perform the Ponce piece, with Daniel Ochoa Gaxiola as piano soloist.

Note: A new general performance schedule for the OFJ begins this weekend, with concerts at Teatro Degollado to be held Thursday evenings, 8:30 p.m., and Sunday afternoons, 12:30 p.m. (A previous schedule had concerts on Friday and Sunday evenings.) Orchestra administration says the purpose of the change is to give musicians two days of rest (Friday and Saturday), instead of just one. Additionally, the change is in line with the practices of other orchestras internationally, said JPO General Manager Arturo Gomez.

Talento Jalisciense I, performed Thursday, April 7, 8:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 10, 12:30 p.m. by the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco and Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de Guadalajara at Teatro Degollado. 

Tickets available at Ticketmaster, (33) 3818-3800, www.ticketmaster.com.mx and Degollado Theater box office, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, Tel. (33) 3614 4773. The theater is in the city center two blocks behind the main cathedral. See http://en.ofj.com.mx for more details. Orchestra information: (33) 3030-9772 weekdays 9 a.m.–3 p.m.  Musical appreciation talk (in Spanish), Thursday 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.

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