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Posted on on June 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Notes from the Americas Society, the host to an extremely interesting one-night event at New York City Philharmonic’s Hall. That was last night, Friday June 6, 2008. But the event actually started already on Tuesday June 3, 2008, at the Park Avenue home of Americas Society.

We usually go to meetings of a political/economic nature relating what goes on in the Southern half of the Western hemisphere – sometimes there is also an event in Canada that gets looked at by the Americas. But this is not all.
The founders of the organization also understood that culture is an important ingredient of what makes up the politics, and if you are interested in the economics, you might as well get some idea of the culture and the people in whose backyard you intend to set up your operations. Oh yes – like most such institutions, Americas Society has backing in the corporate world. That is why we find it nevertheless justified to look at this extraordinary event that would not have happened in New York unless for the Americas Society.

On Tuesday we saw the Tambuco percussionists with no instruments at all – just their hands – palms, fingers – coaxing out in unison sounds from the top of a simple black table. That is something you can even do now in a music hall as it was done, we are sure, by basic humans eons ago when they developed the sense of music. We just forgot our basic human nature and believe that we must have an expensive Stradivarius or a Steinway and if we do not afford it we think we cannot make music. Do I hint here something about sustainability? I really do not know, but it seems that there always are young folks among us that deviate from the norms we set them and end up being the new composers that will be in due time the new classics – and please no giggling because I am indeed serious of what I write here. The Friday night performance was in ways similar to the two Metropolitan opera performances we reviewed this year – the Satyagraha and the First Emperor. Now Why do I say this?

The Program included in its second half material from a 1939 composition for a pre WWII Hollywood movie “La Noche de las Mayas.” The music evoked Mexican folk tunes that were a new thing for the audience of that time, but much more of common knowledge today. Even so, seeing the music treated by the enthusiastic orchestra led by a pony-tail wagging very enthusiastic young lady, provide also the visual effects of enchantment. As it was in effect a gala evening, the atmosphere was high and the pouring applause brought fore two encores.

The stars were obviously the collection of percussion instruments of the Tambuco-four and the way how they interact among themselves and the way Alondra made them blend with the large orchestra were achievements that deserve repeat performances.









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