Going beyond today's headlines
A fever for a free Fiesta: Houston Symphony celebrates Mexico's bicentennialwith music
Patty Solera is originally from Chile, but she has been living in Katy for 22 years. Despite her South American background, Solera is excited about this year’s Chevron Fiesta Sinfónica, which is strictly focused on Mexican classical pieces this year to celebrate Mexico’s bicentennial.
Solera steps up a little flustered from the underground box office of Jones Hall.
“I drove two hours to get here and they won’t give me four extra tickets because the cap is at eight,” Solera says.
This is how pumped up, not only Solera, but also her entire family is about this free performance at Jones Hall Sunday evening.
“Two of my girls play violin, so they’re really excited,” Solera said. “I wanted to get the extra tickets for my son’s family, but looks like they’ll have to come here themselves.”
Because of the increased violence in Mexico this past year, Solera feels this concert will provide a therapy for Mexican residents of Houston.
“Last week I saw somebody hold up a Best Buy,” Solera said. “The perpetrator looked Hispanic and a woman next to me made a comment about Mexicans being violent. This is exactly the type of profiling that hurts the Mexican community here. For all we knew he could have been Chilean.”
This year, Symphony assistant conductor Brett Mitchell will conduct the Fiesta Sinfónfica. This may be Mitchell’s first year conducting this concert, but it certainly won’t be his first time attending. In fact, Fiesta is how Mitchell kicks off the rest of the Houston Symphony’s season.
Mitchell hopes that the concert will make people reflect on Mexico's entire glorious history, rather than the recent sprees of drug violence that have rocked the country.
“One of the nice things about art is that it can certainly let you explore all of those things, but it can also allow you to leave them behind,” Mitchell says. “What we’re really doing with this concert is celebrating 200 years of culture. The last thing we want to do is think about the last three months or six months.”
Mitchell remembers the New York Philharmonic’s response to the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
“They scrapped their whole opening night program and replaced it with Brahms’ A German Requiem, which was a very moving thing,” Mitchell said. “It was not only the first time a lot of people had gotten together in one place, it was the first time a lot of people left their houses, left their homes, since the attack.”
Mitchell says this concert is something Chevron feels really passionate about. Westside High School's nationally acclaimed dance group, INERTIA, is set to perform alongside the orchestra for a few of the pieces, adding the flavor of community to the show.
“You look at the name of the orchestra, the Houston Symphony and if the symphony isn’t really serving the city of Houston, then it’s an orchestra that just happens to be in the city of Houston,” Mitchell said.
This is Mitchell’s first time conducting the Fiesta, but he starts his fourth season with the Symphony with Saturday night's opening night performance.
Later this season, Mitchell will conduct another Latin-flavored concert called Lunada on Nov. 6 at Miller Outdoor Theatre.