Today it is exactly fifty two weeks since I slipped and broke my wrist and I am happy to report that my wrist, hand & fingers have almost recovered! Who would have believed that it would take so long? It is also fifty two weeks since I agreed to sell my Brannen-Cooper flute in order to buy my new Altus1207 with B foot – a C foot has just arrived from London with the Mexican flautist Isidro Ruiz. I have to say that I am truly delighted with the change and think that this is the brand which will see me to the end of my career. I am especially grateful to Jonathan Myall and Just Flutes for exceptional advice and help. One day soon I will blog about this major change.
It is four weeks since the historic Mexican election and I would like to make several comments. First of all, many commentators in both the UK and the USA alleged that Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was the “Mexican Trump”, when nothing could be further from the truth. AMLO is vastly experienced and was a very successful Mayor of Mexico City, a city bigger than many countries! The best thing about the election was that there was no doubt about the result since AMLO won 53% of the vote and neither of the other two main contenders had even half of that. In addition, AMLO’s party Morena has increased its strength in Congress and Mexican States.
Another notable detail is that AMLO has a gender neutral Cabinet and in Congress women make up 49% of the lower house and 51% of the Senate. Other countries should take note! Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating but everything that has been said by the President Elect and his Cabinet seems to indicate that two of the principal objectives are combatting corruption and helping those in society who have been largely neglected for far too long.
It happens that I have been working recently with Esteban Moctezuma, the new Minister of Education, and I have also worked with Alejandra Frausto, Minister of Culture, Marcelo Ebrard, the Foreign Minister and Miguel Torruco, the Minister of Tourism. They are all excellent; experienced, knowledgable, passionate and the fact that they are already working hard on the transition process indicates that on 1 December they will ‘hit the ground running’! In terms of Mexico City, we now have Claudia Sheinbaum, the city’s first female Mayor, who has appointed our dear friend Carlos Mackinlay as Minister of Tourism. During the Ebrard administration, I worked closely with Carlos as Mexico City’s Ambassador and I am delighted to see him running Mexico City’s tourism once again.
In June I spent a week in Aguascalientes where many members of my family live. I was invited to play with the University Orchestra to celebrate the University’s 45th anniversary and was very happy to give a performance of Arturo Márquez’ Flute Concerto under the baton of Mtro. Julio Velazquez Valls. I asked my cousin how many tickets the family might need (a couple of tickets? half a dozen?) and the answer came back: thirty two please! That’s what you call family support! As always, it was lovely to see them all and one day I will tell you about them.
However, I do want to mention that my cousin Reyna López brought us some beautiful cookies from her famous bakery Panaderia Don Emilio in Calvillo. As usual, on the day we left Aguascalientes we had breakfast with my cousin Don Pedro, as well as his son Pedro Lucio, Miriam and their beautiful daughters Carmina and Romina. They are very special and we always look forward to spending time with them. I always learn more about our family and its history during our get-togethers and I find it immensely fulfilling to hear about my family members, past and present.
July has always been the time in the year when Michael and I take stock of where we are at and what projects we should be working on. Last year’s process was dramatically cut short but a few days ago, Michael presented me with the 2019 list and all I can say is that it looks as if I won’t be slowing up at all as I approach my seventieth birthday! It is important to consolidate at the same time as moving forward and of course a constant preoccupation is the marvelous ‘Concierto Son’ of Arturo Márquez which I premiered last December. By the end of the year I will have given eight performances of it and so far I have a dozen lined up for next year. One of the highlights for me will be a performance on 11th November with the National Symphony of Cuba which Mtro. Arturo may be conducting!
I have continued giving monthly concerts in Federal High Security Prisons. The last one was the female facility in Morelos and the next one will be in the Estado de Mexico – that’s the one which El Chapo escaped from (maybe they will let me inspect the tunnel?!) In September I am giving a series of six concerts in Mexico City prisons with the Bellas Artes Chamber Orchestra conducted by Mtro. Rodrigo Cadet. Pianist-conductor-composer Edgar Ibarra has made a marvelous set of arrangements of popular mexican music for me. Also in September I am giving another performance of the Márquez Concerto with the Guanajuato Orchestra and Mtro. Raúl Aquiles Delgado on the 14th followed by a special Independence Day concert with Mtro. Salvador Merchand in Plaza Carso in the 15th!
One of the most important aspects of the last year has been my work with the flute teachers and students of Esperanza Azteca. I have met some very special and dedicated teachers in various parts of the country but especially in Mexico City. Although Esteban Moctezuma has now left and been replaced by Antonio Dominguez, I hope to continue my work with the Esperanza Azteca teachers. I also had the pleasure of sitting on a jury for the graduation of Marcos Nicolás Sosa and César Israel Cedillo Beltrán, two of Mtra. Julieta Cedillo’s Fomento Musical students. It was a very pleasant and thought-provoking jury chaired by Mtro. Eduardo Garcia Barrios with clarinetist Eleanor Weingartener of the National Symphony and her husband, oboist Miguel Salazar of the Queretaro Philharmonic.
Last week we got to spend an evening with our old friend flautist Wissam Boustany who came to play the Khachaturian Concerto with QFO and to give a flute course in Celaya. He’s a remarkable flute player who has now turned to conducting and we had a great conversation.
My teacher and life-long friend András Adorjan will be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s National Flute Association Conference in Orlando and those of you who are attending shouldn’t miss Andras’ presentation on the Doppler Brothers. I think Andras deserves an award for being a constant support and mentor for more than forty years. Last year I wanted a copy of his Arpeggione Sonata and even though he was about to leave for Japan he dutifully scanned it and sent it to me on his way out of the door! He is always a very stimulating visitor and we are hoping that he returns to Mexico very soon.
This week we are off to San Diego to see Zandra Rhodes one of our oldest friends (or should I say one of our friends of longest standing?) and then to spend a week at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate as the guest of Sarah Livia Brightwood. It will be our fifteenth visit and it will be great to spend a week in Paradise. I won’t be able to stop practicing – but at least I get to practice at sea-level instead of at 8,000 feet! I will be in touch again next month to preview what looks like being a very busy Autumn.