UC Davis Symphony Orchestra 2019-20 (SEASON 61)

Below is the complete listing for the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra, entering its 61st Season (2019-20). The UCDSO is one of the most forward looking and advanced University orchestras in the US, having performed major works by Ligeti, Varèse, Luciano Berio, dozens of world premières, in addition to cycles by Sibelius, Schumann, Beethoven, and multiple works in the core symphonic repertoire. The UC Davis Symphony Orchestra has collaborated with many great artists of our time, such as violinist Miranda Cuckson, and conductors David Robertson and Dennis Russell Davies (and in side-by-side settings with the Saint Louis Symphony, and with members of the Bruckner Orchester Linz and the San Francisco Symphony). The orchestra has performed international tours to France, Australia, the Polynesia, and Spain. Our 61st season will be the 11th season under the leadership of music director and conductor Christian Baldini.
Ashley Dixon
Ashley Dixon
Rising Stars of Opera
October 5
Ashley Dixon, mezzo; Christopher Colmenero, tenor; and Christopher Oglesby, tenor
Mark Morash, Guest Conductor
leyla kabuli
Leyla Kabuli


November 23
UC Davis Symphony Orchestra
Christian Baldini, music director and conductor
Dialogues and Poetry
Strauss, Don Juan
Lutoslawski, Chain 2, with Maximilian Haft
Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 2, with Leyla Kabuli
Soo Yeon Lyuh
February 1
UC Davis Symphony Orchestra
Christian Baldini, music director and conductor
Korean Virtuosity, Immortal Dances
Ravel, Pavane pour une infante défunte
Jean Ahn, The Woven Silk, for haegeum and orchestra, with Soo Yeon Lyuh
Christian Baldini, NEW WORK for haegeum and orchestra, with Soo Yeon Lyuh
Ravel, La Valse


IMG_5068 B-a4
Andrei Baumann
March 6
UC Davis Symphony Orchestra
University Chorus, Caleb Lewis (director of choirs)
Christian Baldini, music director and conductor
Celebrating Beethoven
Laurie San Martin, New Work
Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 4, with Andrei Baumann
Beethoven, Christ on the Mount of Olives, Op. 85
mercedes gomez benet
Mercedes Gómez Benet
May 2
UC Davis Symphony Orchestra
Christian Baldini, music director and conductor
Spirits and Dances
Brahms, Hungarian Dance No. 5
María Granillo, Danzas de los espíritus animales (World Première, Harp Concerto) – with Mercedes Gómez Benet
Dvorak, Symphony No. 8 in G major
Juan Diego Díaz

May 30
UC Davis Symphony Orchestra
Christian Baldini, music director and conductor
Boundless Humor and Vitality
Juan Diego Diaz, Se fue Mendoza
Winner of the UCDSO Concerto Competition
Beethoven, Symphony No. 2
Concerto, Experimental, folklore, Music, Symphony Orchestra, Tango, Uncategorized, violin

Composer Profile: Esteban Benzecry in Conversation with Christian Baldini

On May 4, 2019, I will have the pleasure of conducting the symphonic triptych “Rituales Amerindios” by Argentinean composer Esteban Benzecry, with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra in the beautiful Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. On the same program we will include the Double Concerto for violin, cello and orchestra by Johannes Brahms, with violinist Stephanie Zyzak and cellist Eunghee Cho, and the work “phôsphors (. . . of ether)” by Irish composer Ann Cleare.

Christian Baldini: Esteban, first of all, it is a pleasure for me as an Argentine to be conducting your beautiful and captivating music in the US. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. Tell me, how were your first few steps in music? You have been living in Paris for many, many years, but your path started in Argentina. How was your childhood, and when did you first feel attracted to music composition? 

Esteban Benzecry: I am the one who is grateful, and I am delighted to know that my music will be heard in Davis, and that it is in such great hands. 

I became close to music when I was already a teenager. Before then, I was always more attracted to painting. When I was 10 I had an attempt to learn the piano, but I quit after a few months because I found it boring, perhaps because I was not mature enough for it at the time.

While I was attending elementary school and high school, I also went to the Fine Arts Institute Manuel José de Labardén (Instituto Vocacional de Arte Manuel José de Labardén) in Buenos Aires, where we were taught fine arts, theatre, photography, theatre, indigenous instruments and folkloric dances.  It was then that in a self-taught fashion, and kind of ‘playing’ I became closer to music. When I was 15 I started playing the guitar and learning songs. My first private teacher was María Concepción Patrón. I loved improvising and I wanted to learn to write what I improvised. 

After a few months she urged me to learn the piano and composition, so I continued my studies with Sergio Hualpa and with Haydee Gerardi, all of this simultaneously while I was studying Fine Arts at University, at the Prilidiano Pueyrredón.

There was a very important moment in my life which was when the Argentine violinist Alberto Lysy listened to a piece that I had written for violin and piano. He got very excited and encouraged me to write a piece for solo violin, a capriccio. He told me that if he liked it, upon his return from Switzerland he would play it as an encore in one of his concerts for the youth. My big surprise came when, upon his return, he got so excited and liked it so much that he decided it to include it on a concert but not as an encore, but as part of the program, and in no other place than in the Main Hall of the Teatro Colón. This was in May 1991, when I was 21. 

My piece received very good reviews and other musicians and orchestras started to ask me for new works. It was all rather strange, but it seemed very natural, because I was not looking for musicians, they were rather looking for me for new works. 

That is how specific projects made me spend more and more time with music and I then felt that I no longer needed to express myself through painting. On the other hand, in 1994 the National Symphony Orchestra of Argentina premiered my first symphony “El compendio de la vida” under the leadership of their Music Director Pedro Ignacio Calderón. In this piece I tried to fuse these two worlds: each of the four movements was inspired in paintings of mine that were exhibited in the foyer of the Auditorio de Belgrano.

My becoming close to music was very intuitive, and something that took place as a necessity. I started writing for orchestra without having received lessons in music theory or orchestration, I loved looking at scores and following them with recordings, and that was a big learning moment for me. 

After the first few works of mine had been premiered, when my career choice was already defined by music, I went to Paris, in 1997, to study composition with Jacques Charpentier and “musical civilization” at the National Conservatory of the Paris Region, and I received my degree “Premier prix à l’unanimité”, then I continued my studies in courses with Paul Mefano, and although I was older than the age limit, he encouraged me to attend his classes at the National Conservatory of Paris as an auditing student. 

CB: Your father is one of the most influential orchestra conductors of Argentina. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I know that he has taught and educated many generations of conductors and orchestra musicians through his wonderful (which he founded) National Youth Orchestra of Argentina (Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Nacional José de San Martín), which has been an incredible “barn of talent” in Buenos Aires. How was it for you growing up in such a musical family? Did you ever consider following your father’s footsteps as a conductor?

EB: Musical interpretation is a different world from the creation. I was fortunate enough to be born with a family that loves art, and who always supported me and stimulated me with a blind faith in everything that I was set out to do. The pressure of having a father that is renowned in the musical environment in the country where I grew up could have nullified me due to the high expectations that some people might have had, to see if it is true that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, and the pressure to have to develop my own merits regardless of those expectations…. but luckily it was not like that: I continue to do what I love the most and I am very grateful of the childhood I had where I was never pressured into becoming a musician, but rather I alone, like in a game, chose it.

As a little boy it was very common for me to come to rehearsals and concerts, so I absorbed a lot of things like a sponge. 

Curiously so far I am not interested in being a performer, I don’t know if I have the charisma, the capacity to communicate something that I do in such an intuitive manner as a creator. 

CB: Which are the composers that have influenced you the most? Stravinsky seems to have had an obvious influence on you, but perhaps there are others that have equally had a great influence in your music? 

EB: Also the music by Latin American composers that have integrated into their musical language folklore, such as Ginastera, Villalobos, Revueltas.

The colorful orchestral palette of French composers, as much the impressionists as that by Dutilleux and Messiaen, and the timbres in contemporary spectral French music, my brief passage with electroacoustic music as a student in Paris were very influential. Even if I ended up as a symphonist, electroacoustic music opened my ears to look for other sonorities with the orchestra. 

My past with fine arts, somehow left a mark in my music in the sense that it is very visual and based in colors, it is as if I was coloring with my music, like building sonic sceneries. 

CB: What is the most important goal for you as a composer? What do you try to communicate with every new piece? 

EB: I suppose with my musical language I exteriorize my internal world. I don’t know if I attempt to do anything, it simply flows without being able to explain why I do it, I don’t know if it belongs to me. 

One can theorize about the musical grammar but once can’t have the answer about where that image came from (that image that covered the empty canvas), or where those notes came from within the silence. 

There is no autopsy or scientist who could give an explanation about where the art we create comes from, or whether we simply communicate it, or whether it already existed in a different dimension of the universe. 

Michelangelo Buonarroti said something like “The sculpture already existed, I only took the excess out of the block of marble.”

CB: In your opinion, what is the role of symphonic music (and/or art in general) in the world we live in nowadays?

EB: Art is like a force of nature that must be allowed to flow, we are only a vehicle of its transmission, it contributes to the universal collective memory, it is the hieroglyphs which will live on as opposed to our physical body, which will disappear; it is the “black box” which will reflect in the future what the human of the past felt. 

There is a role of current entertainment and also that of eternity. 

I always have the impression of that I am planting trees that will remain here for the future generations, as opposed to the performers that live in them now. 

There is much art that is created with new technologies, which contributes to its evolution, but with time it turns obsolete or not very practical, while symphonic music is a classic that will last just like oil on a canvas, where what evolves is the language itself, the image, the sound that one stamps on it, but using the same matter.  

The symphony orchestra is also the highest expression of the result of collective work, an example of a society. 

With these topics nobody “owns the truth”, it is just a viewpoint. 

CB: Please tell me, what was the initial seed behind the genesis of your work “Rituales Amerindios”? Was it your own initiative, or due to the commission that you received? Is the musical material ever influenced by commissions that you receive?

EB: Very few times I have received commissions in which a theme had been imposed upon me, normally it is me who chooses a theme. 

This piece was a commission by the Gothenburg Symphony (National Symphony of Sweden), whose music director was Gustavo Dudamel. It was premiered by this orchestra in Gothenburg in January 2010, and that same week it was taken on a tour to the Festival Internacional de Música de las Islas Canarias in Las Palmas de Gran Canarias and in Tenerife. This symphonic triptych is dedicated to Gustavo Dudamel, which motivated me to write a work that, in my humble way, could be a musical homage to Latin America through its three main pre-columbian cultures, which are the Aztecs (Mexico), Mayas (south of Mexico and central America), and Incas (South America, primarily in Peru).  

Each of the movements, then, carries the name of a divinity from each of those cultures:  I  – Ehécatl (Aztec God of Wind) II  – Chaac (Maya God of Water) III – Illapa (Inca God of Thunder)

Gustavo Dudamel has subsequently programmed it with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in subscriptions at Walt Disney Concert Hall and on tour to San Francisco in Davies Symphony Hall on the Centennial of the San Francisco Symphony. He also conducted it in Carnegie Hall in New York with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra from Venezuela, and he took it on tour to Berkeley, Royal Festival Hall in Londo y the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Other orchestras such as the Philharmonique de Radio France and the Buenos Aires Philharmonic (Teatro Colon) have programmed this work as well.

CB: With regards to the musical materials, it is incredible how you can accomplish such memorable and simple motives like that one that starts “Rituales Amerindios.” How do you find such a subtle balance between complex elements (of which there is a lot in your work as well) and simple elements? Do you have a constant quest to find something memorable and transcendent? 

EB: If I said I’m on a constant quest to create something memorable and transcendent it would sound too pretentious. How does one find that? 

I thank you for your point of view about my music, and it is very difficult to describe with words what I do with my music in a very intuitive way.

When I compose I like to create themes that can be melodic or rhythmic motives which pop up in my music like characters that come in and out of a musical scenery. My music is very pictorial, as if it was about sonic sceneries that serve as a background to those characters which at different moments reappear with variations, thus giving unity to the work. 

Rituales amerindios is a symphonic “mural” (a large painting that has been painted onto a wall, like a fresco) which is loaded with simple and recognizable elements that call your attention, on top of complex textures that serve as background. 

CB: Rhythmic force, evocations to nature, moments of a very beautiful lyricism are a very natural part of “Rituales Amerindios” (and maybe a signature of you as a composer). Have you looked for inspiration in the concept of a neo-nationalism or a sort of imaginary folklore, to call it by some name? (I personally imagine that Alberto Ginastera would have liked your music very much) 

EB: I thank you for your comment. 

Defining my music is very difficult because I would run the risk of labeling myself with the description that I might do and I do not have any strict dogmas.
In works like “Rituales Amerindios” I feel a bit in line with Latin American composers such as Revueltas, Villa-Lobos and Ginastera of the “imaginary folklore”, what I mean is that I do not attempt to do ethnomusicology, but rather, in many of my works I have taken roots, rhythms, mythology or melodic turns of our continent as the source of inspiration, but in order to develop my own language, which could be described as a fusion of these roots and the new techniques of the contemporary western music.
Even if I have things in common with the aforementioned composers (we use these same roots as a source of inspiration), since I am a composer of the 21st Century my aesthetic influences are different.
In my first few works this happened unconsciously, maybe due to the contact that I had since a young age with folklore and indigenous instruments in the arts institute “Labarden” in Buenos Aires, and also due to my passion for certain South American composers. Today, I think that this has been vindicated and I do it more consciously with a very exploratory attitude, even though not all the works in my catalogue have this thematic material.
In my works I like to recreate the sonorities of indigenous instruments such as the “quena” or the “sikus” but utilizing instruments from the traditional orchestra, through contemporary procedures such as the use of multiphonics, harmonics, different kinds of air blows, extended techniques in the wind instruments, and I try to recreate the sound of the strummed “charango” through the use of pizzicato with arpeggios in the violins, etc.


I also love sounds of nature, the singing of imaginary birds, the sounds of mineral elements, vegetables, woods, water ambiences, the fauna: “Rituales Amerindios” is also a chant to nature in the Americas. 

CB: Esteban, I thank you so very much for your time and wonderful answers. We are truly honored to share your beautiful music with your audience. 

EB: I am the one who is grateful, to count on performers as enthusiastic as you who bring life to my music. The work that you are doing with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra making so much music of our time known through your concerts is truly remarkable. 

Esteban Benzecry 2019 Alita Baldi 12
Esteban Benzecry – Photo by Alita Baldi (2019)


Argentinean composer born in 1970. Esteban Benzecry is one of South America’s most renowned young composers. His music is programmed by the world’s leading conductors, performing organisations and festivals. Interpreters and commissions include the Carnegie Hall, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, Hamburg Philharmoniker Orchester, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, Sydney Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Tampere Philharmonic, Stavanger Symfoniorkester, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orquestra Gulbenkian, Orquesta Nacional de España, ORCAM Orquesta y Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid, Orquesta Sinfonica de RTVE. His most recent works attempt a fusion between rhythms with Latin American roots and the diverse aesthetic currents of European contemporary music creating, a personal language, an imaginary folklore. Benzecry lives in Paris since 1997.


Soloist Profile: Stephanie Zyzak in conversation with Christian Baldini

Stephanie Zyzak is our violin soloist for the May 4 performance of the Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra by Brahms. The cello soloist will be Eunghee Cho. In the same program, we’ll also include Esteban Benzecry’s Rituales Amerindios, and Ann Cleare’s phôsphors (… of ether).

Christian Baldini: First of all, thank you for taking the time to respond to these questions. We very much look forward to featuring you as our soloist at UC Davis. Tell us about your childhood and early musical education. How did you start? You were obviously a prodigy, playing the violin since age 4 and performing as a soloist with an orchestra at 7. Did that have much of an impact in your daily life? Did you still attend school? Did you play with other children? Tell us anything you’d like about your childhood, routine, and things that you enjoyed the most.

Stephanie Zyzak: I’m not sure if I ever viewed myself as a prodigy of any sort – I was just fortunate to have had the right people at the right time in my life. My childhood was fairly normal and I was able to attend school through the 8th grade while traveling and playing concerts. Music was just something that I felt an affinity to and I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t playing the violin.

CB: Who are your favorite composers, and why?

SZ: Because there are so many incredible composers, my favorites are the ones whose works I’m playing at the time. In this case it’s Brahms, Debussy, Dvorak, and Beethoven. But I’m certain in a couple weeks I will have a different answer to this question.

At the same time, the great composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Brahms (to name a few) are favorites of everyone because their music speaks to our souls. In the end, I think we all strive for human connection and commonalities in one another and their music resonates and speaks emotionally to us because they (and their experiences) were after all, human. Humans with the extraordinary ability to translate these emotions and experiences into the incredible music that we are privileged to play.

CB: Are there any particular teachers or mentors, and/or inspirational figures in your life that you will always be grateful to? Why?

SZ: Miriam Fried who was my teacher at New England Conservatory where I completed my Bachelor and Masters degrees. She really opened my eyes to the meaning and message of the music and how to communicate this through sound. Without a doubt, she has had the most influence on the way I think about music. I’ve also been extremely fortunate to have had Miriam and her husband Paul Biss as a mentor and I will always be grateful to them for their patience and guidance.

CB: Are you curious about different kinds of repertoire? What are some pieces you haven’t played or explored yet, but that you’d like to discover in the next few years?

SZ: The Brahms Double was a work I had wanted to play for a couple years, so I’m absolutely thrilled to have gotten the chance to really study and learn this incredible piece! Other repertoire I would like to play are the Schumann piano trios, Strauss violin sonata, Brahms piano quartets, Stravinsky violin concerto… and many others!

CB: Have you played many world premieres? And do you consider this to be something important that we do as performers?

SZ: I have played some premieres, but I would love to play more. I think commissioned pieces are so important and it’s also such a great experience for us as performers to get to work with living composers!

CB: Once again, thank you for the time and for the beautiful answers. We look forward to this gorgeous Brahms with you and Eunghee!

SZ: Thank you! I’m looking forward and am excited to play with all of you very soon!


stephanie zyzak

Born in 1994, Stephanie Zyzak began playing the violin at 4 years old. She studied with Miriam Fried at New England Conservatory where she received her Bachelors and Masters degrees, and is currently completing her doctorate degree at City University of New York, The Graduate Center with Mark Steinberg. At the age seven, Stephanie made her first solo appearance with the Starling Chamber Orchestra in the Aspen Music School and became the youngest recipient ever to be awarded the Aspen Music School New Horizon Fellowship. The following year, she performed in Germany as an invited guest of the Internationale Kunst – Akademie Liechtenstein (IKAL). Over the years, she has had the opportunity to solo and tour with orchestras and various groups in Germany, Russia, Austria, Sweden, Spain, Italy, and France. In 2004, Stephanie made her debut with the Louisville Orchestra, and has performed with orchestras such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Dayton Philharmonic, and Southeast Missouri Symphony. Other notable performances include an appearance on Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and an invitation to perform as an honored guest at the Lotus Festival for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

Stephanie has received top prizes in various competitions and was most recently named a finalist at the 2018 Naumburg International Violin Competition. She has been invited to participate in renowned international competitions including: the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (2018), Joseph Joachim Hannover International Violin Competition (2018), Shanghai International Isaac Stern Competition (2016), International Ima Hogg Competition (2016 semifinalist), Seoul International Music Competition (2015), and Zhuhai International Mozart Competition (2015 semifinalist).
A passionate chamber musician, she has collaborated with Ralph Kirshbaum, Steven
Tenenbom, Hsin-Yun Huang, Colin Carr, Michael Kannen, and Robert McDonald. She has performed at festivals such as the Taos School of Music, Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival, and has also been invited to the Marlboro Music Festival this coming summer.
Stephanie performs on a 1778 Joseph and Antonio Gagliano violin, generously on loan from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute.



Perfil de compositor: Esteban Benzecry en diálogo con Christian Baldini

El 4 de Mayo, tendré el gusto de dirigir la obra “Rituales Amerindios” del compositor argentino Esteban Benzecry, junto a la Orquesta Sinfónica de la Universidad de California, Davis, en el hermoso Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. En el mismo programa se incluirá el Concierto para violín, cello y orquesta de Johannes Brahms, junto a Stephanie Zyzak y Eunghee Cho, y la obra “phôsphors (. . . of ether)” de la compositora Irlandesa Ann Cleare.

Christian Baldini: Esteban, primero que nada, es un verdadero placer y orgullo como argentino estar dirigiendo tu hermosa y cautivante música en los Estados Unidos. Muchas gracias por tomarte el tiempo de responder estas preguntas. Contame, como fueron tus principios con la música? Si bien has estado viviendo en París por muchísimos años, has comenzado tu educación musical en la Argentina. Como fue tu infancia, y cuando comenzaste a sentir atracción por la composición?

Esteban Benzecry: El agradecido soy yo, estoy encantado saber que mi música se escuchara en Davis y que está en muy buenas manos.

Yo me acerque a la música ya de adolescente. Yo siempre estaba más volcado a la pintura. A los 10 años tuve un intento de estudiar el piano, pero abandoné a los pocos meses porque me aburría, quizás no estaba todavía maduro para eso.

Paralelo a mis estudios primarios y secundarios yo asistía al Instituto Vocacional de Arte Manuel José de Labardén en Buenos Aires, donde teníamos talleres de artes plásticas, teatro, fotografía, instrumentos autóctonos y danzas folclóricas.  Fue ahí que comencé de manera autodidacta y jugando, a acercarme a la música.  A mis 15 años yo comencé con la guitarra aprendiendo canciones. Mi primera profesora particular fue María Concepción Patrón. A mí me gustaba mucho improvisar y quería aprender a escribir lo que improvisaba.

Luego de unos pocos meses ella me alentó a que estudiara piano y composición, así que seguí mis estudios con Sergio Hualpa y luego con Haydee Gerardi, todo esto paralelo a mis estudios de Bellas Artes en la universidad Prilidiano Pueyrredón.

Hubo un momento muy importante en mi vida que fue cuando el violinista argentino Alberto Lysy escucho una obra que yo había escrito para violín y piano. Él se entusiasmó mucho y me alentó a que le compusiera una obra, un capricho para violín solo, que, si a su regreso de Suiza el año próximo si a él le gustaba, la incluiría como bis, en alguno de sus encuentros musicales con la juventud. Mi gran sorpresa fue que, a su regreso cuando el leyó mi nueva composición, se entusiasmó tanto que la incluyo en un concierto, pero no como bis, sino dentro del programa y nada menos que en la sala grande del Teatro Colon. Esto fue en mayo del 91 yo tenía 21 años.

Salieron críticas muy buenas y otros músicos y orquestas empezaron a pedirme obras, fue todo muy raro y a la vez se fue dando naturalmente, porque yo no buscaba a los músicos, si no que ellos me buscaban a mí para pedirme obras.

Así fue como los proyectos me llevaron a dedicarme más a la música y luego sentí que ya no tenía más necesidad de expresarme a través de la pintura. Sin embargo, en 1994 la sinfónica Nacional estreno mi primera sinfonía “El compendio de la vida” bajo la batuta de Pedro Ignacio Calderón, donde intente integrar estos dos mundos, cada uno de sus cuatro movimientos estaba inspirados en cuadros míos que se exhibieron en el hall del auditorio de Belgrano.

Mi acercamiento a la música fue de manera muy intuitiva y surgió como una necesidad, yo comencé a escribir para orquesta sin haber recibido clases de orquestación ni armonía, me encantaba seguir grabaciones de obras sinfónicas con las partituras, ese fue mi gran aprendizaje.

Luego de mis primeros estrenos, cuando mi vocación y mi carrera ya estaba definida por la música, me fui a Paris en el año 1997 donde estudie con Jacques Charpentier composición y civilización musical en el Conservatorio Nacional de Región de Paris, ahí obtuve mi diploma “Premier prix à l’unanimité” y proseguí mi formación en el curso de Paul Mefano, que a pesar de que yo ya había superado el límite de edad, me alentó a frecuentar sus clases en el Conservatorio Superior Nacional de Paris como alumno no regular.

CB: Tu padre es uno de los directores de orquesta más influyentes en la Argentina. Yo nunca tuve el gusto de conocerlo, pero sé que ha educado a generaciones de directores y músicos de orquesta a través de su maravillosa Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Nacional José de San Martín, que ha sido un increíble semillero de talento en Buenos Aires. Cómo fue crecer en una familia tan musical? Alguna vez consideraste seguir los pasos de tu padre en la dirección orquestal?

EB: La interpretación es un mundo diferente a la creación, tuve la suerte de venir de una familia que ama el arte, que siempre me apoyo y estimulo con una fe ciega en todo lo que me propusiera hacer. La presión de tener un padre reconocido en el ambiente musical del país donde me forme podría haberme anulado por la expectativa de algunos de ver si es cierto eso de tal palo tal astilla y también por sacar méritos a mis primeros logros por ser el hijo de tal..pero por suerte no fue así, continuo haciendo los que más amo y estoy muy agradecido de la infancia que tuve donde nunca me presionaron para que me dedique a la música, si no que yo solo, como un juego llegue a ella.

Desde chico era muy común para mí ir a ensayos y conciertos y eso lo fui absorbiendo como una esponja.

Curiosamente por ahora no me atrae la idea de ser intérprete, no sé si tendría el carisma, liderazgo y capacidad para transmitir algo que yo hago de manera muy intuitiva con la creación.

CB: Cuáles son los compositores que más te han influido? Stravinsky parece ser una evidente influencia, pero quizás ha habido otros que también hayan tenido una gran influencia en tu música?

EB: También la música de compositores latinoamericanos que han integrado en su lenguaje musical el folclore como Ginastera, Villalobos, Revueltas.

El colorido de la paleta orquestal de los compositores franceses, tanto los impresionistas, como la de Dutilleux, Messiaen y los timbres de la actual música espectral francesa, mi breve pasaje por la música electroacústica en mi época de estudiante en Paris, que, si bien yo me dedique al sinfonismo, esta me abrió los oídos a querer buscar otras sonoridades con la orquesta.

Mi pasado pictórico, de alguna manera dejo como un rasgo de mi música el hecho de que es muy visual y variado en colores, es como si coloreara con mi música, como si construyera escenografías sonoras.

CB: Qué es lo más importante para vos como compositor? Qué tratas de comunicar con cada nueva pieza?

EB: Supongo que con el lenguaje de la música exteriorizo mi mundo interior, no se si intento algo, simplemente fluye sin que se pueda explicar porque hago lo que hago, no sé si me pertenece a mí.

Se puede teorizar la gramática musical pero no se podrá tener la respuesta de dónde viene esa imagen que cubrió la tela en blanco o esas notas que se generaron desde el silencio.

No hay autopsia ni científico que puede dar explicación de dónde viene el arte que creamos o simplemente transmitimos, si ya existía en alguna otra dimensión del universo.

Michelangelo Buonarroti decía algo así como, “La escultura ya existía, yo solo saqué el excedente del bloque de mármol”

CB: En tu opinión, cuál es el rol de la música sinfónica (y/o el arte en general) en el mundo en el cual vivimos hoy en día?

EB: El arte es una fuerza de la naturaleza que hay que dejar fluir, nosotros solo somos un vehículo de transmisión de ella, contribuyen a la memoria colectiva universal, son los jeroglíficos que perduraran en el tiempo a diferencia de nuestro cuerpo físico que desaparecerá, la caja negra que reflejará en el futuro lo que sentía el hombre del pasado.

Esta también el rol del entretenimiento actual y también el de la eternidad.

Siempre tengo la impresión de estar sembrando árboles que quedarán para las próximas generaciones a diferencia de los interpretes que viven en él ahora.

Hay mucho arte que se hace con nuevas tecnologías, lo cual contribuye a su evolución, pero que con el tiempo se vuelven obsoletas e impracticables mientras que la música sinfónica es un clásico que perdurara como también el óleo sobre la tela, donde lo que evoluciona es el lenguaje, la imagen y el sonido que uno palpa sobre ella, pero utilizando la misma materia.

La orquesta sinfónica también es una expresión máxima del resultado de un trabajo colectivo, un ejemplo de sociedad.

En estos temas nadie es dueño de la verdad, es solo un punto de vista.

CB: Por favor, contame cómo comenzó la idea inicial detrás de la composición de “Rituales Amerindios”. Fue por tu propia iniciativa o por el encargo que recibiste? El material musical, es acaso influido o afectado por los diversos encargos que recibís?

EB: Pocas veces he tenido encargos cuya temática me haya sido impuesta, normalmente soy yo el que elige el tema.

Esta obra surgió como un encargo de la Orquesta de Gotemburgo (Orquesta Nacional de Suecia) cuyo director musical era Gustavo Dudamel. Fue estrenada por esta orquesta en Gotemburgo en enero del 2010 y en la misma semana llevada en gira al Festival Internacional de Música de las Islas Canarias en Las Palmas de Gran Canarias y en Tenerife. Este tríptico sinfónico está dedicado a Gustavo Dudamel, lo que me motivó a querer escribir una obra que, a mi humilde manera, pudiera rendir un homenaje musical a Latinoamérica a través de sus tres culturas precolombinas preponderantes, que son la Azteca (México), Maya (sur de México y América central) e Inca (América del sur, mayormente en Perú).

Cada uno de los mov­imientos, entonces, lleva el nombre de alguna divinidad de esas culturas. I  – Ehécatl (Díos del viento Azteca) II  – Chaac (Díos del agua Maya) III – Illapa (Díos del trueno Inca)

Luego Gustavo Dudamel la ha programado con Los Angeles Philharmonic en su abono en el Walt Disney Concert Hall y en gira a San Francisco dentro del marco del centenario de la San Francisco Symphony . Tambien con la Orquesta Simon Bolivar la ha dado a conocer en el Carnegie Hall de New York, Berkeley, Royal Festival Hall de Londres y el Concergebouw de Amsterdam. Otras orquestas como la Philharmonique de Radio France y la Filarmónica del Teatro Colon de Buenos Aires entre otras, ya la han programado.

CB: En cuanto al material musical, es increíble como podes lograr motivos tan memorables y simples como el que comienza Rituales Amerindios. Como encontrás un equilibrio tan sutil entre lo complejo (de lo cual hay mucho en tu obra) y lo simple? Tenés acaso una búsqueda consciente de lo memorable y lo transcendente?

EB: Si digiera que estoy en la búsqueda de crear algo memorable y transcendente sonaría muy pretencioso, ¿cómo encontrar eso?

Te agradezco tu punto de vista sobre mi música, me cuesta mucho definir con palabras lo que hago con la música de una manera muy intuitiva.

Me gusta cuando compongo crear temas que pueden ser motivos melódicos o rítmicos que aparecen en mi música como personajes que entran y salen dentro de un decorado musical. Mi música es muy pictórica, como si se tratara de escenografías sonoras que sirven de fondo para esos personajes que en diferentes momentos reaparecen con variaciones, dándole así una unidad a la obra.

Rituales amerindios es un mural sinfónico, donde esta cargado de elementos que por sencillos y reconocibles que son, atraen la atención, sobre texturas complejas que hacen de fondo.

CB: La fuerza rítmica, evocaciones a la naturaleza, momentos de un bellísimo liricismo son una parte muy natural de “Rituales Amerindios” (y quizás una impronta de vos como compositor). Te has apoyado en el concepto de un neo-nacionalismo, o de un folklore imaginario, por así llamarlo? (yo personalmente imagino que a Ginastera le hubiese gustado muchísimo tu música)

EB: Te agradezco tu comentario.

Definir mi música me cuesta porque correría el riesgo de encasillarme con la descripción que pueda hacer y yo no tengo dogmas estrictas.
En obras como “Rituales Amerindios” yo me siento un poco en la línea iniciada por compositores latinoamericanos como Revueltas, Villa-Lobos y Ginastera del folclore imaginario, es decir, yo no pretendo hacer etnomusicología, si no que en muchas de mis obras he tomado raíces, ritmos, mitología o giros melódicos de nuestro continente como fuente de inspiración, pero para desarrollar mi propio lenguaje que se podría describir como una fusión entre estas raíces y las nuevas técnicas de la música occidental contemporánea.
Si bien tengo en común con estos mencionados compositores, el hecho de que tomo las mismas raíces como fuente de inspiración, como yo soy un compositor del siglo XXI mis influencias estéticas son diferentes.
En mis primeras obras esto fue surgiendo inconscientemente, quizás por el contacto que he tenido con el folclore y los instrumentos autóctonos de pequeño en el instituto vocacional de arte “Labarden” de Buenos Aires y también por mi pasión por cierto compositores sudamericanos.  Hoy creo que esta fusión la reivindico y lo hago más conscientemente con una actitud explorativa, aunque no todas las obras de mi catalogo tiene esta temática.

En mis obras me gusta recrear las sonoridades de instrumentos autóctonos como por ejemplo las quenas o sikus, pero utilizando los instrumentos de la orquesta tradicional, mediante procedimientos actuales como la utilización de multifónicos, armónicos, distinto tipo de soplidos, técnicas extendidas en los aerófonos e intento recrear la sonoridad del charango rasgueado pero con los pizzicatos arpegiados de los violines, etc..

También me apasiona los sonidos de la naturaleza, el canto de pájaros imaginarios, sonidos de los elementos minerales, vegetales, maderas, ambientes acuáticos, la fauna, “Rituales Amerindios” es también un canto a la naturaleza de América.

CB: Esteban, te agradezco muchísimo por tu atención y tu tiempo. Estamos muy honrados de compartir tu hermosa música con nuestro público.

EB: El agradecido soy yo, de poder contar con interpretes entusiastas como vos que le dan vida a mi música. Es extraordinario el trabajo que estás haciendo con la Orquesta de la Universidad de Davis dando a conocer la música de nuestro tiempo.

Esteban Benzecry 2019 Alita Baldi 12
Esteban Benzecry – Foto por Alita Baldi (2019)

Compositor argentino nacido en Lisboa en 1970, hijo del reconocido director de orquesta argentino Mario Benzecry, después de crecer en la Argentina ha vivido en Francia desde 1997, y obtuvo la nacionalidad francesa en 2011.

En 1997 se trasladó a ParísFrancia, donde realizó estudios de composición en el Conservatorio de París bajo la guía de los maestros Jacques Charpentier y Paul Méfano. También realizó cursos de música electroacústica(nouvelles techniques) dictado por los maestros Luis Naón y Laurent Cuniot en el Conservatoire National Superieur de París.

En Argentina, paralelamente a sus estudios de Bellas Artes en la universidad “Prilidiano Pueyrredón”coronados por un título de profesor nacional de pintura, estudia composición con los maestros Sergio Hualpa y Haydée Gerardi.

Autor de tres sinfonías (su primera sinfonía “El compendio de la vida”, escrita en 1993, está inspirado en cuatro pinturas de su autoría), varias obras sinfónicas y de cámara. Sus obras más recientes intentan una fusión entre los ritmos y raíces latinoamericanas que toma como fuente de inspiración y las diferentes corrientes estéticas de la música contemporánea europea, creando así un lenguaje personal, un folclore imaginario.

Una crítica publicada en “Le Monde de la Musique” (Julio de 2001) lo califica como un heredero lejano de Heitor Villa-Lobos y Alberto Ginastera por la utilización imaginativa del patrimonio musical latinoamericano.

Sus obras son interpretadas y encargadas por importantes orquestas de todo el mundo como las siguientes: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Ángeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra , Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Tampere Philharmonic, Stavanger Symfoniorkester, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, Hamburg Philharmoniker Orchester, Orquesta Nacional de España, Orquesta de la RTVE Radio Television Española , Orquesta y Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid, Orquestra Gulbenkian de Lisboa, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de Montpellier, Orchestre Colonne, Orchestre Pasdeloup, Orchestre Lamoureux , Orchestre Symphonique de Cannes-Côte d’Azur, Sinfonietta de París, Orchestre de la Basse Normandie, Orchestre Universitaire de Strasbourg, el ensemble l’Itinéraire, el Octuor des violoncelles de Beauvais, Grup Instrumental de Valencia, Ensamble LIM, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de ArgentinaOrquesta Filarmónica del Teatro Colón de Buenos AiresOrquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar de Venezuela, Orquesta Filarmónica Nacional de Venezuela, Sinfonica Nacional de Colombia, Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá, Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Lima, Carnegie Mellon Contemporary Ensemble of Pittsburgh (USA), Orchestre Symphonique de Klaïpeda (Lituanie), Orquesta Sinfónica Carlos Chávez (México), Camerata Lysy – Gstaad, Camerata Basel, Camerata Bariloche (Argentina), London’s Schubert Chamber Orchestra, Unitas Ensemble – Boston – USA, Filarmónica de Stat Targu Mures (Rumania), Kiev Chamber Orchestra, Zaporozhye Symphony Orchestra – Ukraine, Kharkov Philharmonic Orchestra (Ucrania) Solaris String Quartet, entre otros.

Y han integrado el repertorio de prestigiosos directores y solistas como: Gustavo DudamelMiguel Harth BedoyaGiancarlo GuerreroDiego Matheuz, Manuel Lopez Gomez, Enrique Arturo DiemeckePablo BoggianoLaurent PetitgirardAlain AltinogluDaniel KawkaWolfgang DoernerMark FosterAlain PârisNemanja RadulovicAlberto LysyGautier CapuçonSol GabettaJesús Castro BalbiSergio TiempoHoracio Lavandera y Ayako Tanaka.

Y han sido programadas en importantes salas y Festivales internacionales de los que se pueden citar: Carnegie Hall de New York, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall de Los Angeles, Davies Symphony Hall de San Francisco, Sydney Opera House, Concertgebouw de Ámsterdam, Royal Festival Hall de Londres, Philharmonie de Paris, Salle PleyelSalle GAVEAUThéâtre des Champs ElyséesThéâtre Mogador, Maison de RADIO FRANCE, Palais de l’Unesco de París, Palais des Festivals a Cannes, Opéra de Montpellier, Sydney Opera House, Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, Auditorio Nacional de Madrid, Festival Rencontres d’ensembles de violoncelles de Beauvais, Concours International d’harpe Lily LaskineJuilliard School de Nueva York, (Lincoln Center), Bard Music Festival – NY – USA, Boston Conservatory, Festival Présences de Radio France, Festival Pontino d’Italie, Festivals de Brighton et Dartington (Inglaterra), Festival de Música de Islas Canarias, Festival Estoril de Portugal, Miso Music Portugal, Festival Musica Viva de Lisboa, Festival Ensems de Valencia, Festival de Morelia (México), Carlos Prieto International Cello Competition – Morelia, México, Festival Latinoamericano de Música de Caracas, Festival Iberoamericano de Puerto Rico, Museo Guggenheim de Bilbao– Festival BBK, Van Cliburn Foundation of Fort Worth, Concours international de piano d’Orléans, Busoni International Piano Competition.

En el 2015 fue compositor invitado de Radio France dentro del marco del Festival Présences dedicado a las Américas, donde con las orquestas Philharmonique de Radio France y la Orchestre National de France se estrenaron su “Concierto para violoncello y orquesta” contando con la participación del célebre violonchelista Gautier Capuçon, su díptico “MADRE TIERRA” ambas compuestas por encargo de Radio France, y se presentó por primera vez en Francia su obra “Rituales Amerindios”.

Durante la temporada 2015-16 fue compositor en residencia de la Orchestra Pasdeloup, que interpreto ocho de sus obras sinfónicas en la Philharmonie de Paris, Théâtre du Châtelet y Salle Gaveau.

Su obra “Pachamama” para orquesta, fue interpretado en el 2015 dentro del marco del histórico concierto inaugural de la sala sinfónica del Centro Cultural Kirchner CCK, por la Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Argentina bajo la dirección del maestro Pedro Ignacio Calderón.
Distinguido por la Asociación de Críticos Musicales de la Argentina, en 1992 como la “joven revelación”, en 1994 recibe el premio a la mejor obra argentina estrenada en dicha temporada por su primera sinfonía “El compendio de la vida”, en el 2006 por su obra “La Lumière de Pacha Camac” en 2009 por su obra “Patagonia” y finalmente en 2018 por su “Ciclo de canciones para soprano y orquesta”. La Académie des Beaux-arts de l’Institut de France le ha otorgado varios premios: en 1999 el Premio Delmas; en 2002 el Premio Tronchet; y, en el 2006, el Premio Georges Wildenstein. En el 2004 gana el premio de composición de la Fundación Groupe d’entreprise Banque Populaire-Natexis. En el 2008 recibe el premio de la John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation de New York. Compositor en residencia en la Casa de Velázquez de Madrid 2004-06 (miembro de la sección artística). Ha sido becario del “Mozarteum Argentino” y de “Interamerican Music Friends” de Washington (USA). En 1995 fue invitado como compositor en residencia a la “Academie Internationale de Musique Yehudi Menuhin” de Suiza.

Cello, Concerto, Music, Symphony Orchestra, Uncategorized, violin

Soloist Profile: Eunghee Cho in Conversation with Christian Baldini

As we get ready to perform Brahms’s Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, it is my pleasure to ask our soloist Eunghee Cho some questions about this piece, about music in general, and about his role as Artistic Director of the recently founded Mellon Music Festival in Davis, California.

Christian Baldini: Eunghee, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to your hometown to showcase you as our soloist for this marvelous piece of music. Tell us why you chose to perform this piece? What is so special to you about it? 

Eunghee Cho: I’ve found that collaborating with inspiring musicians on an incredible piece of music motivates new dimensions in my perception of sound and musicality. The double concerto allows for the creation of a sonic über-instrument from the cello-violin combo simultaneously manifesting alongside their unfolding conquest with the full orchestra. I can’t wait!

CB: And tell us about your soloist partner, violinist Stephanie Zyzak. How did the two of you meet, and would you say you have much in common with regards to music making?

EC: We first met in the context of a conductorless chamber orchestra. During our first cycle, we were both principals for Shostakovich’s C minor Chamber Symphony – a transcription of his 8th string quartet for string orchestra. I was absolutely floored by the anguish she vocalized in that opening movement solo. Within those first few minutes, I knew that it could only ever be a privilege to work with such a powerful artist.

CB: Tell us about how you decided to found the Mellon Music Festival in Davis. I had the pleasure of attending some of your events, and it gives me great comfort to see so many talented young people working together and offering high quality music performances. How did you come up with this idea, and where would you like to go with it?

EC: In a nutshell, Davis was missing an international chamber music festival and I had some buddies who loved performing chamber music! More specifically though, so much of the current climate of classical music appreciation is predicated on a snobby, elitist stereotype of the genre when in fact it can be one of the most inclusive and accessible media of expression. To combat the stigmas, our programming and outreach efforts actively exploit the inherent beauty and expressive potential of the classical genre. Beyond nurturing a community around dedicated festival engagement, we’ll make classical music in vogue once again!

CB: What are your choices for programming music? I noticed that in future concerts you will be performing more recent repertoire (works by Ligeti and Golijov), which seems like a welcome development. Are you planning on commissioning works in the future perhaps too?

EC: Of course you can’t go wrong when programming the classics, but we are also advocates of an evolving music tradition that embraces musical innovation, especially when we have the chance to pick the brains of living composers. I can only imagine how bummed I’d be if I found out after I died that I could’ve asked the 21st century edition Beethoven how to perform precisely his hugely varying dynamic and articulation varieties. In the past, we commissioned, with support from a Boston-based grant, two new works for the festival in our Spring 2018 preview concerts with the Holes in the Floor cello quartet. Commissions are certainly in our future!

CB: What is your ideal job? Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

EC: My ideal job would be spending my weeks alternating between intensive musical collaborations and work as a professional dog walker.

CB: If you had to give advice to a very young musician starting out, what would you say to them? What should they do in order to become a successful musician?

EC: A lot of the time it will feel like the music is kicking your butt, but if you can push through the temporary grind, the product is one of the greatest imaginable rewards. Also, find inspiration in as many of the oldies (i.e. Kreisler, Piatigorsky, Szigeti, Casals, Tertis) as your 24-hr days will allow.

CB: Do you enjoy reading? Sports? What other activities do you enjoy outside music (and besides dogs!)?

EC: Mostly resulting from a general paranoia, I tend to arrive at airports hours before my flight’s scheduled departure so I’ve adopted another hobby that can aptly be described as “people watching.” Also, I have hardly ever said no to a game of pick-up soccer.

CB: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. We look forward to a beautiful performance together! And maybe we’ll play soccer together someday (another passion of mine!)
EC: Absolutely my pleasure! See you soon!

eunghee Cho2W
Born in Davis, California, Korean-American cellist Eunghee Cho was awarded Second Prize and the special award for Outstanding Chinese New Piece Performance at the Alice & Eleonore Schoenfeld International String Competition in Harbin, China. He has also earned First Prize in the USC Solo Bach Competition, the Borromeo String Quartet Guest Artist Award, New England Conservatory’s Honors Ensemble Competition, Sacramento Philharmonic League JAMMIES Concerto Competition, and was awarded top prize in the Classical Soloist category by Downbeat Student Music Awards.
He has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras around the country including the Sacramento Philharmonic, Cape Symphony, Atlantic Symphony, Symphony by the Sea, Davis Symphony, and Sacramento State Symphony Orchestras. He currently holds the Joyce & Donald Steele Chair as Principal Cello of the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, and frequently performs as Principal Cello with Cape Symphony, Unitas Ensemble, and Symphony by the Sea. Eunghee has actively participated in classes at the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival and Académie Musicale de Villecroze in France and has worked closely with distinguished professors such as Steven Doane, Colin Carr, Myung-Wha Chung, Jean-Guihen Queyras, and members of the Guarneri, Emerson, Tokyo, Orion, Brentano, Borromeo, and Shanghai Quartets. 


As an avid chamber musician, Eunghee has collaborated in performances with artists such as Midori Goto, David Shifrin, Elton John, François Salque, and the Borromeo String Quartet, and has performed as a guest artist with A Far Cry, Da Camera Society, and the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento. Previous festival engagements include the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Taos School of Music, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Festival International d’Echternach, and Rencontres Franco Américaines de Musique Chambre in Missillac, France. He is Artistic Director and Founder of the Mellon Music Festival in Davis, CA.

Eunghee graduated magna cum laude and as a Steven & Kathryn Sample Renaissance Scholar from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance and a Minor in Biology. Following his completion of a Master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music he is currently enrolled in the conservatory’s Doctor of Musical Arts Program under the tutelage of distinguished pedagogue Laurence Lesser. His previous instructors include Paul Katz, Andrew Shulman, Andrew Luchansky, Richard Andaya, and Julie Hochman. He plays on a 1930 Anselmo Gotti cello on generous loan by Colburn Foundation. Away from the cello, Eunghee enjoys neighborhood pick-up soccer, everything about dogs, and dawdling in local coffee shops.