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The San Francisco Symphony performs it First Día de los Muertos Family Concert

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San Francisco, CA - On Sunday, November 2 at 2:00 p.m., the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) celebrates Mexican music and culture in its inaugural Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Family Concert, conducted by Enrique Arturo Diemecke with violinist Danielle Belen Nesmith and Peter Soave on bandoneón.

This matinee program designed for the entire family features works by Moncayo, Revueltas, Piazzolla, Buxtehude, Ravel, Gamboa and Copland, and will include a number of pre-concert festivities in the lobby of Davies Symphony Hall, presented in partnership with the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. For this inaugural Día de los Muertos Family Concert, the SFS will offer a 50% discount on tickets for children under the age of 17. The presenting sponsor of the Día de los Muertos Family Concert is Bank of America.

The Día de los Muertos Family Concert is part of the San Francisco Symphony’s ongoing commitment to providing compelling musical experiences for families. Its Music for Families series held at Davies Symphony Hall and the Flint Center in Cupertino offers matinee performances focusing on different aspects of the orchestra and symphonic repertoire. Specially designed to be engaging, informative and fun, these matinee concerts introduce children and families to the world of live orchestral music.

In honor of Día de los Muertos the SFS has joined with the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) for a series of pre-concert lobby activities. The SFS has commissioned acclaimed Mexican artist Herminia Albarrán Romero to create a unique centerpiece Day of the Dead altar in the Davies Symphony Hall lobby. Four of Ms. Albarrán’s apprentices will also create themed altars to be prominently displayed throughout the hall.

Aztec dancers will lead a procession from the street into Davies Symphony Hall to bless the altars, Day of the Dead refreshments, such as the traditional pan de muerto and Mexican hot chocolate will be served and there will be face painting for children. The SFS will display a collection of posters created at MCCLA’s Mission Gráfica for the Dia de los Muertos reception that has been held at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts throughout its 31 years of history. For the uninitiated, docents will be on hand to provide information about the origins and traditions associated with Día de los Muertos.

Born in Mexico, conductor Enrique Arturo Diemecke is in his third season as Music Director of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic of the famed Teatro Colón, his eighth season as Music Director of the Long Beach Symphony and his nineteenth season as Music Director of the Flint Symphony Orchestra. Following 20 years at the helm of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México, Maestro Diemecke returned to opera in 2007-08, leading a new production of Massenet‚s Werther at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. His performances of Massenet’s Le Jongleur de Notre Dame with tenor Roberto Alagna were recorded by Deutsche Grammophon. Recent guest appearances include performances with the Pacific Symphony, the Residentie Orkest in The Hague, and The Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra in Caracas.

Violinist Danielle Belen Nesmith, is the 2008 Senior Division winner of the Sphinx Competition presented by Chase. Ms. Nesmith is a California native, a recent graduate of the USC Thornton School of Music, where she completed her Bachelor of Music Degree as a student of Robert Lipsett. She continues her studies with Mr. Lipsett at the Colburn Conservatory of Music. As the 1st Place Senior Division Winner of the 2008 Sphinx Competition Danielle represents the organization in solo performances with major orchestras this year including the Pittsburgh Symphony, Boston Pops, and Florida Orchestra. Ms. Nesmith is currently Assistant Concertmaster of New West Symphony and Concertmaster of the Colburn Conservatory Orchestra.

Of Italian descent, bandoneón player Peter Soave was born in 1964 in Detroit. His orchestral engagements in the U.S. include those with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Phoenix and Detroit symphonies, and the Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Ohio chamber orchestras. Internationally, Mr. Soave appeared with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico, the San Salvador Philharmonic, the Zagreb Soloists, and the Belgrade Philharmonic.He recently completed a recording of Piazzolla’s Five Tango Sensations with the Rucner String Quartet of Zagreb, as well as a double CD of Piazzolla’s masterpieces, Undertango2.

Herminia Albarrán Romero, a gifted papel picado (paper-cutting) artist from the village of San Francisco in Tlatlaya, Mexico, began learning her skills as a child from her mother. Her family held a special position in the village as artists specializing in paper arts for Day of the Dead altars. As a young woman she honed these skills with study at Acatempa in Amatepel and amplified her personal knowledge of the various customs of folk art while working with the people of Mexico during her employment with Misiculturales. She has taught traditional clothing design and construction, papel picado, flores de papel, pan de muerto, ceramics, altars and associated decorations all her life. Now residing in San Francisco, she dedicates most of the year to preparing papel picado for her November altars, which are often commissioned by museums and libraries, including the Oakland Museum, Palace of the Legion of Honor, and Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. In 2005 Ms. Albarrán was honored with a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award, the highest national award given to folk artists in recognition of their contributions to our national cultural mosaic. Ms. Albarrán has recently been working on a CD collection of original music in the traditional folkloric style of Mexico which draws upon her original poetry and texts as well as her love of music and dance.

The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts was established in 1977 by artists and community activists with a shared vision to promote, preserve and develop the Latino cultural arts that reflect the living tradition and experiences of the Chicano, Mexican, Central and South American, and the Caribbean people. The MCCLA makes the arts accessible as an essential element to the community’s development and well being.

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