We flew from Washington DC to Raleigh NC with United Airlines and because of our Gold status we were lucky enough to be upgraded, in addition to which, before the flight we enjoyed the luxury of the Red Carpet Club (we became Life Members in the seventies!) In Raleigh we met up with several old friends; Consul General Remedios Gomez-Arnau, Monica Colin and Gabriela Cobos-Uribe. The last time I performed in Atlanta, Remedios was the Consul General and two years ago I gave a series of concerts in San Diego when she was Consul General there and she has been very supportive, especially, of my work in prisons. I had worked with both Monica and Gabriela when they were working for IME in Mexico City.
I had two concerts in Raleigh, one at the Rivers Correctional Facility and the other at the Consulate and although there wasn’t time for sightseeing I got to see quite a lot of the beautiful countryside when driving two hours to the Correctional facility. It is a privately run prison but one that seemed to be very well run. There were a large number of Mexicans in the audience and they were very happy to hear some of the most popular songs from the Epoca de Oro de Cine Mexicana – and the American inmates seemed to enjoy them as well! We turned the event into an ‘encuentro’ rather than a concert and had a number of interesting interactions with the inmates.
Playing in prison is one of the most important things I do and I try to play in them on a regular basis. Last month, in a convenio between INBA and the Mexican National Security Agency, I gave a concert in the federal prison in Guanajuato and next month I am going to the Federal facility in Guadalajara. In my opinion, this convenio between INBA and INS is one of the most important initiatives to come from the Ministry of Culture in recent times.
The concert at the Raleigh Consulate was a very pleasant presentation, hosted by Consul General Gomez-Arnau and her husband Guillermo. Again, the event featured interactions with the audience, especially from Guillermo “Willy” Ortiz. The Consul General invited us to dine with her afterwards and she and Willy were very understanding when I agreed as long as the restaurant was close and quick! It turned out to be a beautiful (and rapid) meal and I was back at the hotel and in bed by 10pm! I find that, especially on the road, it is important to be very disciplined and to guard one’s energy level.
From Raleigh we flew to Atlanta were we were greeted at the airport by Adisde Handal, a career diploma who comes from Aguascalientes – so we had a lot in common! We had time to discover many common links because the traffic was like that in Mexico City! Adisde had organised sponsorship for our hotel – and sponsorships for the concert, too – essential in these difficult financial times! Before the tour started I gave a phone interview to Alberto Rodriguez of Mundo Hispanico and this is the article he wrote.
I am writing this on Saturday 21 April at the end of our second week on the road and I will report on the Atlanta concert in my blog post about the final week of the tour.
On the road I have been working hard on Visions, John Rutter Flute’s Concerto, which I am playing with him as soon as I get back to Mexico City. John is one of my favorite composers and the new concerto is very special. I am playing it in Sala Nezahualcóyotl on 3 May with John conducting the Colegio Cedros Orchestra and Choir. It’s a concert not to be missed and also includes John’s magnificent Gloria. To book tickets please call Colegio Cedros on 50 91 95 00 ext 1703 between 8am and 3pm.
The story of the concert is quite interesting. John was commissioned to write a violin concerto to celebrate the centenary of Yehudi Menhuin’s birth. After the first performance John wrote to me and said that he thought would work really well as a Flute Concerto and would I like it? Of course I was thrilled and a couple of months later I received the new solo part. It is a beautiful work which I think will become as popular as his Suite Antique.
Last December, the New York Times featured a fascinating article about John and I am including it here in case you missed it. He really is a very special colleague and one of the most inspiring composers.