Café des Artistes welcomes back virtuoso Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanski this month with his groundbreaking new show ‘Sketches of Mexico‘. This unique project curated by Szymanski and Sarabande Records is a collaboration with visual artists from Mexico, Portugal the UK and China. Through the marriage of both sonic and visual mediums, we are transported on a magical, multi sensory journey through Mexico’s sounds, colours, dances and styles.
The project focuses on the 20 Sketches of Mexico by guitarist and composer Julio César Oliva (1947-). One of Mexico’s most famous classical guitarists, Oliva has composed over 300 works, bought a full program of Bach’s music to Mexico and is also an arranger, advocate and conservationist of traditional Mexican music. Oliva’s works are complemented by six songs by Manuel María Ponce (1882-1949), Mexico’s foremost composer and father of Mexican nationalism. Throughout his life he collected melodies and themes which are present in his compositions. The selection of popular pieces and songs reflect Ponce’s unending devotion to the guitar and his close relationship with Andres Segovia.
“I always wanted to record a CD of Mexican music. I found, completely by accident, the sheet music for the sketches years back in a music shop in Amsterdam as I was looking for Bach’s lute suites. They remained in a box for ages until I found them again one day and started playing them.”
Originally, Oliva’s Sketches of Mexico were never intended as concert works, but rather as a stylistic and didactic collection for young guitarists to become acquainted with traditional Mexican rhythms and musical forms. The characteristic simplicity of the work romantically conjures up vivid impressions, images, ambiences, sounds and colours of Mexico’s distinct and varied geography which is portrayed in a mixture of pre-hispanic, popular and modern sound worlds, taking the listener on a musical voyage through famous locations such as Acapulco, Oaxaca, Yucatán, Chiapas, Veracruz. Imagery is present in the music in homage to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the two famous volcanoes – Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl – the pyramids of Teotihuacan and the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, now embraced by the sprawling capital, Mexico City.
“They are not intended as concert works, but that simplicity is still appealing, relaxing and conjures up all sort of images.” Surprisingly, the works had never been recorded. “I had always loved Olivas work, but his music is only known in Mexico so I thought it was a good opportunity to promote him. I decided to record them as no one else had done so and it would be the world premiere recording.”
The eureka moment which gave birth to the idea of uniting art and music came to Morgan whilst jogging in the Peak District. Why not commission artists to paint images inspired by these beautifully evocative pieces of music? “I really liked the idea of doing exhibitions-concerts”.
“I love painting and had the idea of doing some sketches for the CD cover but they were awful.” So Morgan approached artist and friend Alvaro Verduzco along with Andres Almeida and Fernanda Gavito to take part in this unique collaboration. They were asked to provide their own interpretation inspired by the music in the form of sketches, paintings and designs which accompany the music and everyone was interested. “My agent suggested Sally McKay. I had some sketches by Jane Williams so invited her too and she invited Catherine Hope Jones. By then we had a great group of artists so I decided to invite my friends Ben Crawford (UK), Elisa Lima (Portugal), Peter Crann (Ireland) and Martin Barnes in Beijing.
“And that’s how we ended up with twenty artists, one for each sketch but some produced more than one. Oliva’s work really gets the imagination going and I suppose that is what the artists found appealing.”
The show is further enhanced by artist Joseph Fairweather-Hole who cleverly manages the projections of the images, animating them and bringing them to life with the music.
The following day, Morgan will be conducting workshops for children based on this same principle. Children are invited to bring musical instruments and arts materials and together with Oliva’s Sketches and the projections of the especially commissioned art works, Morgan will guide them on an immersive, educational creative and sensory journey through Mexico’s sights, sounds, colours and cultures.
Sketches of Mexico Concert Saturday 25th May 2013
Doors open 7pm
Sketches of Mexico Workshops Sunday 26th may 2013
Ages 5-10 12pm-1pm
Ages 11-16 2pm-3pm
Please contact us 07545 075 198 if you have any queries or email us:cafedesartisteslewes@gmail.