Venezuelan conductor Christian Vasquez is a protégé of Venezuela's famed classical music-training system, El Sistema, who has won recognition for his ebullient performances of well-known music by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Mahler. Twenty-nine-year-old Vasquez travels to Tokyo this July for his conducting debut in Japan - a collaboration with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in an enthralling programme of twentieth-century Latin American dance music, the violin concertos of Mendelssohn and Brahms and Berlioz's electrifying Symphonie fantastique.
Caracas-born Vasquez studied violin at a local Sistema orchestra in San Sebastian, Aragua State, before leading his local orchestra in his teens. In 2006, after studying conducting for five years, Vasquez took conducting lessons under the direction of the founder and leader of the Sistema, Jose Antonio Abreu, who had also coached Gustavo Dudamel (currently music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic). That same year he became music director of the Jose Felix Ribas Juvenile Symphony Orchestra of Aragua and in 2008 he debuted in Caracas, conducting the internationally-celebrated Venezuelan flagship ensemble, the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra (formerly Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra) in a performance of Mahler's monumental Resurrection Symphony.
Since then he has guest-conducted such international groups as the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in Paris in a performance of Stravinsky's 1919 Firebird Suite (a shorter version of the original ballet score for concert performance). In 2010 he won critical acclaim for his performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony with the Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, the ensemble of 165 best-trained teenage musicians, aged between fourteen and nineteen, formed in 2007, during the ensemble's tour of Europe. In the past two years, he has made his successful debut, conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra in London in a performance of Tchaikovsky's final symphony, Pathetique, as well as the Leipzig Gewandhause Orchestra in Germany, in a performance of Bizet's Carmen Suites. In June 2013, after making one more debut, conducting the chamber ensemble Camerata Salzburg (founded in 1952) at the prestigious Vienna Festival 2013, in a program including Ginastera's exhilarating Dances from Estancia, he performed popular works of Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky with Norway's Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, whom Vasquez will serve as chief conductor this coming season. Founded in 1938 in the oil-rich Stavanger, this Norwegian orchestra was turned into the distinguished Nordic ensemble by the renowned Dutch conductor Frans Bruggen in the 1990s.
At 7pm on Thursday 18 July 2013 at Tokyo's Suntory Hall, Vasquez and the Tokyo Philharmonic will perform Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas' vibrant work Sensemaya of 1937-8, which portrays the ritual killing of a snake. They will also perform Brahms' Violin Concerto in D with the 1960s Soviet Leningrad Conservatory and Juilliard-trained virtuoso violinist Teiko Maehashi, who marked the fiftieth anniversary of the start of her career in 2012. They conclude the concert with Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, Op 14 of 1830 - the five-movement composition of extraordinary colour and rhythmic complexity, which portrays a tale of romantic desire, unrequited love, attempted suicide with opium, hallucinatory dreams of murder and execution, and hellish revenge.
At 3pm on Sunday 21 July 2013 at Tokyo's Bunkamura Orchard Hall, Vasquez and the Tokyo Philharmonic will perform Ginastera's Dances from Estancia, Op 8a, of 1941. They will also perform Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor in collaboration with the Tokyo-born and Brussels-based violin soloist Yuzuko Horigome, who won first prize at the Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition in Brussels in 1980 and has since performed in Europe for more than three decades. She won worldwide attention in August 2012 when she had her 1741 Guarnerius violin, one of world's best violins, seized by Customs officials at Germany's Frankfurt Airport on her transit to Brussels from Tokyo, who accused her of being unable to provide documentation to prove her ownership of the valuable violin, before she retrieved it after six weeks. Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique concludes the concert.
Posted: 21 June 2013
by Nobuko Yamazaki
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