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Dialogue of Cultures
Schiller Institute Choruses From Northwest Mexico Inaugurate Pavarotti Concert In Mexicalli, Baja California, November 12, 2003
by Ana Linda Ruiz and Valerie Rush
Classical music brilliantly illuminated the desert region of Northern Baja California, Mexico on Oct. 18, and the LaRouche-founded Schiller Institute played a central role in that historic event. Forty-four thousand people from both the Mexican and U.S. sides of this border territory, as well as from various parts of Mexico, came together to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the city of Mexicali, at a vast open-air theater especially constructed about 20 kilometers outside that city.
The magnificent two-and-a-half-hour concert was broadcast live internationally by satellite television, and there was widespread coverage of the event the next day, by the Mexican press, radio, and television. The mass attendance at the concert was not only testimony to the oft-denied appeal of Classical art, but also to the powerful effect of the Schiller Institute's decades-long organizing in the Mexican northwest, to bring the urgency of a Classical renaissance to the citizenry there.
The day after the Pavarotti concert, calls began to come into the Schiller Institute office in Mexicali, from parents wanting their children to experience the discipline and joy of singing, and from inspired adults and youth who recognize the Institute as the cultural authority in the state of Baja California.
The concert began when the children's chorus began to pour onto the stage. Led by Marco Antonio Ugalde, who had been sent by the National Council for Culture and the Arts in Mexico City to conduct the group, the children began with a bel canto version of the Italian folk song Funiculi Funicula, and then moved into a series of Mexican folkloric tunes. Accompanying the chorus on the piano was Patricia Ortiz, who is in charge of the musical work of the Schiller Institute in Mexicali.
Pavarotti and Raspagliosi then launched into a variety of Italian arias, both as solos and in duet, accompanied by the prominent pianist and conductor Leone Maggiera, who was also the invited conductor at the event for the Symphonic Orchestra of Baja California. At the conclusion of the concert, Pavarotti and Raspagliosi called on the huge chorus of children and adults to return to the stage, to accompany them in an encore piece, performing The Toast from Verdi's La Traviata, which brought the concert to a rousing conclusion.
The concert was organized by the state and municipal governments of Northern Baja California, as well as by members of the Businessman's Centennial Association (Patronato Centenario) of Mexicali, many of whom have known of the work of the Schiller Institute and of Lyndon and Helga LaRouche for years. Exemplary is the case of Mexicali Mayor Jaime Diaz Ochoa, who, together with his wife, have long supported the efforts of the Schiller Institute to bring Classical music to the population of the area through free concerts and forums, and who themselves have created cultural centers in the poorest parts of the city, to get children into choruses and to teach them love of music and art.
The weeks of daily rehearsing for the Pavarotti concert of all the children who make up the chorus, was under the direction of Alejandro Gonzalez, who was a founding member of the Schiller Institute's Mexicali youth chorus years ago. The training of the children in the bel canto method of singing, with the requisite concentration and discipline, impressed many personalities visiting from both Northern Baja California and Mexico City, as well as members of Pavarotti's own entourage, who listened in on the children's practices. When soprano Analissa Raspagliosi heard the children in their final rehearsal, she couldn't resist joining in with them.
Media coverage of the event included coverage of the Schiller Institute's role in it. One Northern Baja California interview with Institute director Maria Guadalupe Torres was headlined in the weekly Contacto with a quote from Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche: Truth, Beauty, Reason, Love, and the Good are impossible one without the other.... If people are not made more beautiful, in the face of this vast world crisis, the world will not survive!
Author Ana Linda Ruiz is the director of the Ciudad Obregon Schiller Institute Chorus.
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