“Some wind and brass players were practicing speaking Spanish phrases directly into their instruments” at the Juilliard School recently, writes Anthony Tommasini in Saturday’s (1/21) New York Times. “A few moments later, these students, members of the New Juilliard Ensemble, performed eerie, bustling riffs of no distinct pitch against a prerecorded backdrop of indigenous South American music. The players, led by the conductor Joel Sachs, were preparing an experimental new piece by the Argentine composer Alejandro Iglesias Rossi, who has done extensive ethnomusicological research on shamanic music in South America, for the school’s 33rd Focus! festival, which runs through Friday. This year the theme is ‘Our Southern Neighbors: The Music of Latin America.’ Mr. Sachs, who has directed the festival since its beginning, has organized this edition to showcase the striking diversity of music south of the border.” Included is an interview with Sachs, in which he discusses assumptions about music of “our southern neighbors,” folkloric elements of Latin American music, Alejandro García Caturla’s 1931 Primera Suite Cubana for this year’s festival, and the 2004 Focus! festival Sachs curated centering on Charles Ives, for the 50th anniversary of his death.

Posted January 24, 2017