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Behind the Baton -- Vines and Violins

Behind the Baton

Vines and Violins
Oct./Nov. 2019

By Julian Kuerti, music director 

Julian KuertiAround the same time that I began working at the Boston Symphony, I started to make regular appearances with an orchestra in Concepcion, Chile. First, I went as a guest, but the relationship developed, and I found myself accepting a position as Director Principal. As I was now the artistic head of the organization, I needed to inform myself about the music of Chile: the folk music and traditional styles, the history of classical music in the region, and of course the living composers whose works we should represent in our season. I spent many nights there looking through old scores, listening to grainy recordings from decades ago and trying to untangle stories, connections, and influences on the music that I was hearing. And usually I would do this while enjoying a glass or two of Chilean wine. It was a good pairing.

One Sunday afternoon, at the home of a composer and close friend of mine, I met a young, energetic, and very personable man who was a wine producer, and we began to talk. He began to tell me the story of how wine culture developed in Chile, brought first by the Jesuit missionaries. They planted, cultivated, and fermented grapes for themselves, but over time, grapes were being grown all over Chile. Over the years, there have been surprises and discoveries, and Chilean wines have gained an international reputation. As I listened to this short history, I was struck by how closely this described the development of music in Chile! Also introduced by the Jesuits, European music was taken up by the local Spanish population. They were, in turn, influenced by the native culture and traditions, the various connections to Europe over the years, and the similar development of new-world wines and contemporary music in the last 20 years.

In November, I hope you will join me for "Classics Uncorked: Sounds of Chile," where we will tell the story of Chilean music and wine, bringing you the best of both here in Kalamazoo. It promises to be a great evening!

More information: 

Classics Uncorked: Fall Friday -- Sounds of Chile

Classics Uncorked: Fall Saturday -- Sounds of Chile