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Music of the Americas Concert Series: 2013 Highlights and What's Next in 2014

Images: Roey Yohai

December 09, 2013

Americas Society is proud to have received the 2014 Chamber Music Association/American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Award for Adventurous Programming. The award, granted annually to ensembles and presenters nationwide, recognizes recipients for their commitment to contemporary chamber music through adventurous, distinctive programming. 

The MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas Concert Series draws on our expertise and connections in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada to produce a series that features performers and composers spanning genres, countries, and generations, including those who remain under-presented and under-recognized in the U.S. To further support living composers, an ongoing commissioning program has generated a number of new works over the past few years. New music, both in the classical and jazz worlds occupies a prominent place in our programming as an important part of the musical life of the region. Over the 2012-2013 season, we presented 13 contemporary music and jazz concerts in addition to 12 events dedicated to early, classical, and popular music.

Click here to see all our music offerings for the first half of 2014.

Recent highlights:

  • Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda performed a three-concert series supported by a Chamber Music America Presenting Jazz grant. The concerts gave him the opportunity to explore unique musical collaborations with his trio and an international cast of guests in three sold-out shows, recapped in this NPR’s Jazz Set show.

  • Mexican flutist Alejandro Escuer gave a multimedia concert with a number of new works for various flutes and electronics. The concert, presented in collaboration with Celebrate Mexico Now as part of Carnegie Hall’s Voices from Latin America festival, included music by Escuer and other Mexican composers, as well as by Jacob TV and Ganesh Anandan. Felipe Perezsantiago was in charge of the frequently wild electronic sound processing.

  • Two concerts dedicated to the Codex Martínez Compañón, a remarkable collection written in Peru in the late eighteenth century, and one of the treasures of the musicology of the Americas. The first concert was the culmination of a commissioning program supported by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Meet the Composer, and the Argosy Foundation. We invited a group of outstanding composers from around the world—from emerging to established—to let them be inspired by the collection. Tony Arnold and the International Contemporary Ensemble gave the premieres of four works of surprising stylistic diversity.

  • The second concert, part of our early music series Gotham Early Music of the Americas (GEMAS), produced in collaboration with Gotham Early Music Scene, took place at the Hispanic Society of America and featured the Bishop’s Band, directed by Tom Zajac and Nell Snaidas.

  • Three outdoor concerts in Central Park Lake (including one with over 100 choristers, some of them in rowboats) celebrated Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer's eightieth birthday in June 2013. The program, organized in collaboration with Make Music New York, included “Music for Wilderness Lake,” for 12 trombones and “Credo,” for 12 choirs, basses and tape. The two parts of “Music…” were presented by TILT Brass at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., while the “Credo,” conducted by George Steel, took place at 5 p.m.

  • Percussionist and Latin Jazz champion Bobby Sanabria brought his Multiverse Big Band to our hall in a dizzying tour of American music, from tango to The Wizard of Oz, in October 2013.

What's coming up in 2014?

During Spring and Summer 2014, Music of the Americas will present several new music concerts, including the New York debut of Mexico’s newly founded Ensemble Cepromusic, one of the few full-time, professional new music groups in the Americas; the U.S. premiere of Pablo Ortiz’s and Sergio Chejfec’s chamber opera, "Gallos y huesos," in collaboration with the Centro de Experimentación del Teatro Colón; and a concert of new wind music by Roberto Sierra by Quintet of the Americas.

Over the past year, we started a multi-season exploration of the process of artistic transmission, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Supporting young classical musicians as they explore repertoire from Latin America and the Caribbean is a natural extension of this idea, and that is why we are creating a new series dedicated to showcase artists in training. The first group of musicians, to perform throughout the Spring, includes young pianists from China and Cuba, the winner of Indiana University’s 3rd Latin American Music Recording Competition in a program of new works for solo cello, and Ithaca College Contemporary Ensemble.

We will also present the second season of the successful GEMAS concert series, produced in collaboration with Gotham Early Music Scene and co-directed by Americas Society’s music director yours truly and U.S.-Uruguayan singer Nell Snaidas. GEMAS concerts will include a duo recital by Furio Zanasi and Eduardo Egüez, and the oboe ensemble Symphonie des Dragons directed by Gonzalo Ruiz.

And yes, we will return to Central Park on June 21 for another outdoor musical extravaganza. Click here to see all our music offerings for the first half of 2014.


Americas Society is the premier organization dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas. Established by David Rockefeller in 1965, our mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship.