As performers, and in particular as a conductor, we musicians try to approach the essential idea that supports the composition; however, there are composers like Beethoven who lead us on a perhaps romantic adventure, but which, for some of us, is inevitable: to seek to understand the soul of the composer, to enter, so to speak metaphorically, into his blood and his pulse, into the creative torrent that the composer makes accessible through sound and silence, and which moves us all.


Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is one of the great examples of history that motivates this journey. As a conductor, one seeks at all times to follow in the footsteps of what is invisible in the score. I believe that this is the commitment of the artist, and of the conductor to the public, to the musicians he conducts and to himself. 


Tonight the Orquesta Sinfónica Sinaloa de las Artes begins 2023 with a remarkable program, composed of two of the greatest works of orchestral literature: “La Valse”, by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), and the great symphony no. 9, by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).


“La Valse” was composed in 1919, and was an homage to Richard Strauss and the tradition of the Viennese waltz. In its orchestral version, the work was premiered on December 12, 1920, conducted by Camille Chevillard, and performed by the Lamoreaux Orchestra. Ravel himself defined the work as “a fantastic and fatal whirlwind”, after the impact and sadness produced in Europe by the First World War. Originally, Maurice Ravel would have wanted the work to be a ballet. At the time, the most influential entrepreneur of choreographic productions was Sergei Diaguilev (1872-1929), to whom the composer turned. Diaguilev disdained the work, saying that the music was a masterpiece, “but it is not a ballet; it is the painting of a ballet.” The return to public life after the pandemic reminds us of the context Ravel experienced in 1919, when the “Spanish Flu” was at the height of the damage it would produce.


Beethoven’s ninth symphony was premiered in Vienna on May 7, 1824. By then Beethoven was practically deaf. The fact that Beethoven was able to conduct the work under such conditions is still a matter of astonishment. The complexity of the work, both in its architecture and language, and in the challenge of assembling at least a hundred performers, demand on the part of the conductor not only an understanding of the work, but technical skills that demand a complete engagement of the senses. 


Beethoven’s last symphony incorporates for the first time the human voice in a symphony, for which four soloists (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and bass) are included, as well as a choir, all of whom appear until the fourth and last movement of the work. Soloists and choir alternate in singing a popular German text, the “Ode to Joy” (“An die Freude”) by Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805), written in November 1785, a text that Beethoven knew from his youth.


The genre of the Ode was born in Greece, it is a laudatory text measured in verse and interpreted by a choir. Inspired by this tradition, the German romanticism of the 19th century incorporated to the great poetry a more accessible metric, from which the poets of that time created a new form of the Ode. In this way, Schiller exalts joy in eight strophes, which were set to music by Beethoven, and, generally, exposed by the solo voices, and partially repeated by the choir by way of confirmation.


For tonight’s concert, which will be repeated next Sunday 22, at 12:30 pm, the OSSLA will be joined by the Sinaloa Opera Choir, directed by Marco Rodríguez, and the Choir of the Autonomous University of Sinaloa, directed by Perla Orrantia.


The soloists will each be members of different opera workshops or studios in the country. They are soprano Jessica Torrero, from the Sinaloa Opera Workshop (TAOS), a workshop that works in Culiacán and is directed by José Manuel Chú; mezzo-soprano Cecilia Ortiz, from the Saltillo Opera Company, directed by Alejandro Reyes; and tenor Jorge Alain Echeverría, from the Sinaloa Opera Workshop (TAOS), a workshop that works in Culiacán and is directed by José Manuel Chú; tenor Jorge Alain Echegaray, from the Ópera Estudio de Bellas Artes (OEBA), directed by Raúl Falcó; and bass-baritone Juan Carlos Villalobos, from the Ópera Estudio del Noroeste (OPEN), directed from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, by Armando Piña.