The Tucson Symphony Orchestra will perform the American premiere of a new work by one of Mexico’s most prominent composers.
This weekend’s performances, featuring Venezuela-born trumpeter Pacho Flores, will be only the second time Arturo Márquez’s “Autumn Concerto” for trumpet and orchestra will be performed. It is one of four world premieres of the piece, which was co-commissioned by a consortium of orchestras, including Tucson’s. The others are Japan’s Hyogo PAC Orchestra, Spain’s Oviedo Filarmonía and the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, which performed the work in September — the only other performance before this weekend.
“Being able to be in this consortium gives Tucson the opportunity to have the U.S. premiere, which is very exciting,” said TSO music director José Luis Gomez, who was one of the first to sign on to the consortium.
This weekend’s performance also serves as the North American premiere.
The trumpet concerto was Flores’ idea, one that he said Márquez jumped at.
Flores, arguably one of the world’s most prominent young trumpeters, has had new works composed for him by a number of contemporary composers. But this project ranks as one of the biggest in scope and impact to date.
“For me this is an important international project,” Flores said last week during a phone call from Spain.
Recruiting a Mexican composer of Márquez’s stature — best known for his Danzon No. 2 and other Danzones music being widely used in ballets, he “is now maybe the biggest Mexican composer alive,” Flores said — fulfills the trumpeter’s twin missions of creating more repertoire for classical trumpet and promoting Latin composers.
“For me it is very important to promote more and more the trumpet concertos, especially with Latin composers.
“I am from Venezuela, and we need to create this language for the classical trumpet,” said Flores, 37.
Flores said Márquez’s concerto captures the flavor of Latin America from the opening “Son de luz” movement, which has the rich brass sounds of Mexico, to the final “Conga de Flores,” capturing the sensibilities of conga with Latin American accents.
Throughout the three-movement performance, Flores will alternate between four instruments, including the trumpet in C, the flugelhorn and the trumpet in D.
“I go to the stage with four different (instruments),” said Flores, whose 2006 win at the Maurice André Competition, the world’s most renowned trumpet competition, helped launch his international career, including his U.S. debut at Carnegie Hall in 2007.
Flores said he knows Gomez — both are products of the prestigious El Sistema music program in their native Venezuela — and has been following the Tucson Symphony Orchestra through its social media.
The fact that the orchestra was so enthusiastic in embracing the Márquez commission is a testament to its devotion to Latin music and composers, which has been a goal for the orchestra since Gomez took over the music director job in 2016; he conducted a few concerts in the 2016-17 season before taking over in full in the 2017-18 season.
Gomez said the orchestra’s role in the Márquez commission consortium is the first of many.
He already has planned future commissioning projects, including one for the 2019-20 season. He would not elaborate because the season details have not been made public.