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Pasatono: Orquesta Mexicana

Americas Society

August 17, 2015


Carlos Chávez (Image: Carl van Vechten, 1937)

In collaboration with:

Pre-registration for this event is now closed. Limited seating may be available beginning at 6:15 PM.

Admission: FREE and open to the public.

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In 1933, while head of the Fine Arts Department of México, Carlos Chávez (1899-1978) created the Orquesta Mexicana, an ensemble of traditional indigenous and mestizo instruments, which he conducted in 1940 as part of MoMA’s Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art exhibition. In 2013, Mixtec musician and researcher Rubén Luengas Pérez revived the Orquesta Mexicana with Orquesta Pasatono (Oaxaca).

Within Chávez’s composition Cantos de México, Pasatono discovered a unique set of rhythms, styles, and musical form in the context of an indigenous and mestizo instrumentation: sets of Zapotec chirimía from Oaxaca, traditional mariachi, banda, the ritual percussion of peoples in the Mexican northwest, and an abstraction of pre-Hispanic percussion. This program by Pasatono channels the diverse legacy of musical traditions embodied in the work of Carlos Chávez.


Carlos Chávez Xochipilli Macuilxochitl, una música azteca immaginaria
Rubén Luengas Jarabe Ka'nu
C. Chávez Chapultepec (Obertura republicana)
Luis Sandí Yaqui Music
Enrico Chapela Danza de un poeta y el viento
C. Chávez Cantos de México
Blas Galindo Sones de Mariachi


Read reviews of Pasatono's 2014 album Maroma in a NPR First Listen feature and on PRI.

Read a recent New York Times piece on Carlos Chávez's work, a Wall Street Journal article on Chávez's legacy, and a New Yorker feature on Chávez's brand of Modernism.

Read a memo on the program issued by the MoMA in 1940.

This event is part of the "Modernismo Rumbero" series.

Pasatono performs Carlos Chávez's Cantos de México.

Rubén Luengas speaks about the origins of the ensemble.