Concierto Equinoccio de Primavera | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Concierto Equinoccio de Primavera

Our wonderful botanical garden, El Charco del Ingenio, is for more than just growing plants. Many community events use the gardens as a venue for ceremonies, workshops and concerts. Recently it was the site of an annual concert that celebrates the Vernal Equinox. Concertgoers arrived early to get good seats.

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The spring equinox concert is held in a natural amphitheater near the site of the old mill for which El Charco del Ingenio was named. A temporary stage was erected over one of the many green pools scattered along the stream bed. Spectators perched on rocks overlooking or alongside of the musicians.

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This year's music consisted of 19th-Century religious works, Música de Pasión de Semana Santa, because of the proximity of Easter. All pieces had been written by San MIguel composers. Below, Director Francisco Mota introduces the musicians to kick off the concert. Behind him sits the Orquesta de Alientos (Orchestra of Encouragement?), a wind ensemble, and behind them, the Children's Choir of the Oratorio de San Filipe Neri.

(Note at stage right, the sawhorse balanced on a beam that is supporting one end of the stage.)

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The rocky bowl in which the concert was held has near perfect acoustics for musical performances. The words sung by the children were amazingly clear.

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The orchestra had the quintessential Mexican band sound: assertive brass topped by a pair of plaintive, slightly atonal clarinets, a sound I dearly love. The tuba player may have joined the group recently, often wandering in search of the appropriate note, adding a reassuring solidity to the music when he found it.

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In hte past few concerts, the largely gringo audience had become accustomed to performances of chamber works by great classical composers. This year's offering of somber passion music didn't sit so well with the assembled concertgoers. By the fourth number, A la Muerte Camina (He Walks to [His] Death), a steady stream of people was climbing the path to the parking lot.

To Norteamericano ears, this type of music is dirgelike and morbid, but it is familiar and reassuring to Mexican believers. Northerners likewise are disturbed by the bleeding, agonized Christ figures found in all Mexican churches. Our differing response to the Passion of Christ is one more powerful example of the cultural gulf that exists across the Rio Grande.

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