Music in Mexico: Classical Music

Classical Music

Any revision of the musical work in Mexico, however superficial or profound, will necessarily lead to findings and conclusions that will, to a large extent, reflect a panorama of crisis and backwardness similar to that which characterizes all the other areas of the task Social and cultural in our country. It would require more pages than those that make up the total of this magazine for a thorough analysis of what happens in Mexico in music, but it is possible to try a compact approach to the topic exploring some generalities related to the four aspects of the subject: composition, interpretation, public and dissemination.

Although it may seem paradoxical, it is probable that the most solid area and with better perspectives in our musical medium is the composition. While it is true that music education systems in Mexico are, to say the least, nineteenth, it is also a fact that many composers of several generations have benefited from the opportunity to study in strong institutions and teachers First-class abroad. I would almost say that, on the contrary, the vast majority of Mexican composers who have made their careers exclusively in the schools and conservatories of our country have clearly lagged behind their colleagues who have been exposed to environments Academics and professionals more rigorous, more demanding and, above all, more modern.

On more than one occasion I have been asked what trend stands out in the composition in Mexico, and my response has been invariably that, for better or worse (I think for good), the trend is that there is a particular trend that dominates the other , and that the key concept in any attempt at definition is eclecticism. As in virtually all other areas of artistic creation (in Mexico and the world), this eclecticism can be a two-edged weapon, in the understanding that, depending on the circumstances, composers and works, it can be synonymous with healthy Variety or scattering aimlessly. Even taking into account the enormous and growing distances that separate us from the most important and developed musical centers, it is possible to find in the contemporary composition in Mexico some of the lines of conduct that appear also in other latitudes. There are the composers who, covered in the teachings of Donatoni, Ferneyhough et al., embrace the current of extreme complexity (new or not) in musical writing. Some of our composers have made it possible for this complex conceptual framework to emerge equally attractive works for the mind and spirit; More than one, on the other hand, has tried to hide a severe lack of ideas under the mantle of the abstruse. Others have opted for musical creation based on numerical foundations, different formulas, matrices of different order, rigorous structural analyses, to produce a music that offers the listener a high content of almost scientific speculation.

There is No shortage of those who, still interested in the sound matter as principal guiding principle, create music of solid, tight instrumental or vocal textures, sometimes taking the guide of the important Polish School of the twentieth century. Another important current is that of the Mexican composers who, sometimes against the current of a misunderstood avant-garde, insist Venturosamente in creating a music that, without giving up an unmistakable modernity, has its primordial goal in the expressiveness, a Indispensable musical element that went missing for several decades. A current derived from this, and that in our midst does not have yet too many followers, is that of those who also try to recover that expressiveness in the sound content of their music, but they do it from constructive and stylistic references archaic.

There are also some sages of untimely localism, proposed by composers who at this stage of the 21st century insist on breaking their heads with the very old discussion about the identity at all, and they do not feel able to find it if it is not through the reiterated and drawling appropriation and transformation of folklore or popular motifs in the context of a neonacionalismo that is today, as long ago, a dead end, a crossroads without solution. It could not be missed, of course, the Mexican musical postmodernism, which in certain of its manifestations also contains unsolvable dilemmas. On the one hand, several composers (and composers) are working assiduously today, whose preparation and tools allow them to naturally assume this deletion of generic frontiers, that appropriation of hybrid and sometimes disparate sources, that welcome Confusion between the “cult” and the popular, those anachronisms that, in the right hands, become urgently present. On the other hand, it is a fact that some Mexican composers of today practice a kind of postmodernism by force, a creative attitude that seems to arise from a misunderstood obligation to be always novel, always recognizable through the sound wit Easy, always pleasing to the ears and to the aesthetic judgement of all factions. For several years already circulated a good number of works pertaining to this “postmodernism of occasion”, that although they have been sympathetic to certain sectors of the public and of the criticism, also have a date of expiration clearly visible, and very close.

One of the most booming slopes in recent times has been that of composers engaged in the production of electrostatic music, sometimes self-denominated sound artists to emphasize the fact that their compositions often tend to the Multimedia and interdisciplinary. It is important to note that in this area of musical composition in Mexico, the last years have witnessed a sustained and notable progress in terms of knowledge and management of new technologies by the creators involved, which has brought I get a beneficial side effect: to provoke a notable interest in the sound art in the young generations that in other circumstances are not approached or by mistake to other manifestations of the music of their time.

There are in contemporary composition in Mexico other currents and other approaches, but these are some of the most notorious and most present. And as in everything, beyond the definition of styles and the assignment of labels, it matters the quality of the work of our composers. In all the areas and styles mentioned, and in some others, we have important and outstanding creators, but the sound results heard in some concerts of contemporary music also show, unequivocally, that it circulates a lot of musical straw Produced by composers who have not fully assimilated the tools of their trade or, in the worst case, have nothing to say. It is noteworthy that a good number of Mexican composers of the younger generations have decided to abandon the petty musical environment in which they made their first weapons to conclude their preparation in musical institutions more solid than the Our. Several of them have decided not to return.

The field of musical performance in Mexico is a rare mirage. Everyday billboards could make you think of a boom and a bonanza, for the number of music sessions announced. However, any further review of the activity of our performers, whether in the field of individual interpreters or ensembles, will enable us to discover enormous shortcomings. Where to begin? For example, with the fact that in Mexico, beyond the mirage of an apparent abundance of symphonic orchestras, many of them are in permanent crisis. From those that are formed by a majority of foreign musicians of medium quality, until those that suffer the permanent ballast of the Misunderstood “conquests guilds”. From which steam is formed as a futile project of this or that official, even those who have long been in inaction and stagnation. From those who suffer constant changes of titular director, to those that are maintained for years without one, with the catastrophic evident results, going through those that suffer in perpetuity to the same director, not always the most convenient for them.

There is also No shortage of the false regional philharmonics of the occasion, formed by a score of musicians, and used by the small governor in turn as a backdrop for his political acts disguised as cultural promotion. And again, a huge contradiction: an auditory tour through our symphonic orchestras allows us to appreciate clearly that most of them urge an important renovation of the staff that inhabit their lecterns, but in the conservatories and music schools Listen to the permanent complaint that there are not enough jobs for the instrumentalists who are graduating from those institutions. It is obvious, then, that there is a rift between an obvious demand, the urgent renovation of our orchestral cadres, and an apparent offer, that of the academic production of instrumental performers. It is clear that there is something completely dysfunctional in what, in theory, should be a virtuous circle in which our musical teaching institutions constantly nutrieran from instrumentalists to the Mexican orchestras.

Likewise, it is shamefully reduced the number of stable camerísticos assemblies of good level. Periodically there are groups of different sizes and endowments, with the best intentions, but they disappear after a ephemeral life, without leaving a trace. How many high-level professional string quartets are there in Mexico? They are counted with the fingers of one hand, although we go. The groups dedicated to contemporary music, in any of its aspects, are also scarce, have a precarious life and their continuity and permanence are almost impossible apart from the official subsidy, which is not usually very generous.

The music that is programmed and interpreted by our orchestras is also a theme that leads to another cul-en-sac. Increasingly, symphonic (and Camerísticos) Mexican ensembles demonstrate a remarkable reluctance to engage with the music that most should matter to them, the music of our time and, in particular, contemporary Mexican music. In the particular case of the Mexican music of today, has been established for some time a perverse vicious circle in which the public categorically rejects any Mexican score that is not a huapango, a danzón or a star, so that the orchestras They usually do not program anything that could scare away the increasingly scarce, more apathetic and more unfamiliar public. For example, a fully current statistic: at the time writing these lines, the five most important orchestras in Mexico City are in full concert season. Within the programming of all the concerts of these five seasons, there are only seventeen Mexican works included. Of these, seven are of wild revolt and five belong to the nationalist period of our music. Thus, it turns out that during one of its seasons of concerts our five capital orchestras interpret, among all, a great total of five scores of Mexican music really of today; It does not help much, either, the fact that three of these works are from the same composer, which also points to a remarkable lack of imagination.

It happens, then, that the music of today, Mexican or of other latitudes, occupies a place practically nonexistent in the daily cultural discourse, so it has had to take refuge in cycles and special events. Such is the case, for example, of the International Forum of New Music, the series of contemporary music concerts of the International Festival Cervantino, the festival Sonora Visions, Radar and the recently rescued Spanish-Mexican music festival Contemporary. However, these activities specifically devoted to new music tend to have a very ephemeral and very local transcendence, and are usually carried out before apparently numerous audiences but which, statistically, are irrelevant because they are formed Mostly by the members of the musical community and not by lovers curious and interested in the current musical creation.

This is also due, to a large extent, to the fact that the third pillar of musical activity in Mexico, the public, is not the weight factor that should be as an active and critical counterpart of musical creation and interpretation. As in the case of so many other scourges of our cultural activity, a substantial part of the responsibility lies in our impoverished and less effective educational system. On the one hand, many of our schools and conservatories continue to use obsolete programs and teaching systems, implemented and administered by prehistoric scholars who consistently refuse to be updated. The Anquilosamiento of music education in Mexico is evident, and is perversely complemented by the fact that music (and art in general) occupies a place of very minor importance in the context of basic education; As much as it is talked about and even if it is codified in useless documents and programs, education in art and art, in the humanities and by the humanities, in music and music, is practically non-existent.