SFCM's Latinx Club Spotlights Lesser-Known Composers in Benefit Concert
The performance will benefit La Voz Latina, a resource center for the Latino community living in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood.
By Alex Heigl
SFCM's Latinx Club wants you to listen to more than just their music.
With their Experience Latinx: Música performance on Oct. 9 in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the students have a dual goal: Showcase music from across the range of the Latinx diaspora and experience and raise funds for a local organization that takes care of their own.
The program ranges from songs by Venezualan composer Aldemaro Romero to a song from Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights to an original composition by Audrey Giancaterino (bass, studying with Scott Pingel). Via a QR code on the program, it will be raising funds for La Voz Latina, founded in 2005 with the goal of providing housing assistance, immigration information and advocacy, Spanish interpretation, public safety, and leadership and skill development to immigrants in the Tenderloin.
"Our biggest goal with this recital was to make sure that we represent Latinx composers and artists," Laura Fernández (soprano, studying with Matthew Worth) said. "A common misconception—particularly in the classical canon—is that Spanish is Spanish, so all music written in Spanish is an umbrella term. So we really made it a point to not perform music from Spain with this performance and target Latinx works."
Giancaterino's composition, for voice, piano, percussion and bass, concerns her mother's experience leaving her native Colombia and coming to America, in Giancaterino's words, "to find a better hope, a better future and kind of not getting what she expected," and how it affected her daughter's life. Its inclusion in the program is part of Giancaterino's artistic mission, which she says is to combat "the stigma, especially in the Latin American community, behind talking about things that are really hurtful and really close to the heart."
For Marcus Contreras (baritone, also studying with Matthew Worth), a Texas native, "coming to SFCM was already a big stride for me. A lot of people in my community where I come from don't even see the opportunity of leaving the state."
"Just being a classical, gay Latino singer, I have to remind myself that although I'm different and I don't come from the same place where a lot of people come from, I've still come very far, and that's why I'm grateful to be here," he continued. "But most importantly, to really be empowered by what makes me different in my professional career."
With his repertoire selection, Ricardo Ibarra (viola, studying with Dimitri Murrath), says he's "working towards making Latinx composers and programming not a trend and more of a staple … We become a trend during this time of the year—September, October, November—and that's when we're programmed."
Ibarra says growing up in Los Angeles watching the LA Philharmonic's youth orchestra was a formative experience for him, and one that he said he wishes more young Latinx musicians could experience, "because we're here, and oftentimes we don't feel like classical music is for us."
"We asked at our last meeting, what do you guys want for this concert, and a cellist named Daniela [Gonzalez, studying with Jean-Michel Fonteneau] said she wants to be the representation for not only herself but for the entire community," he added. "And that really stood out to me, because as somebody who started classical music very late compared to my peers here, it's something that I wish I'd had."
Learn more about studying voice, cello, viola or bass at SFCM. Information about the Experience Latinx: Música performance can be found here, and information about SFCM's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program can be found here.