Ricardo Castro will direct the Bahia Orchestra Project, a Brazilian youth orchestra, on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Mondavi. Courtesy photo


Brazilian youth orchestra and prominent French pianist to visit Mondavi

By From page A7 | February 19, 2014

In the know

Who: Bahia Orchestra Project with French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, with a 7 p.m. pre-performance talk by Leopoldo Bernucci, Latin American studies chair at UC Davis

Where: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

Tickets: $35 general, $17.50 students; www.mondaviarts.org, 530-754-2787

Youth orchestras from Latin America — some of which have achieved astonishing results using a training approach known as “el sistema” — have made a big splash in North America in the past decade. On Saturday, Feb. 22, at 8 p.m., a Brazilian ensemble known as the Bahia Orchestra Project will perform in the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall, giving local audiences a taste of this musical phenomenon.

The Bahia Orchestra Project was founded in 2007, and in recent years has performed in London, Berlin and Geneva. The orchestra features about 100 instruments, and the young musicians are drawn from the diverse ethnic groups that make up the population of Brazil. They are led by Ricardo Castro, a Brazilian-born conductor who also has enjoyed a career as a concert pianist and recording artist.

The first half of the program leans toward Europe, with the “Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy-Overture by Tchaikovsky (written in the late 1860s, when the composer was still in his 20s), and the Piano Concerto in G Major by Ravel. The piano soloist in the Ravel concerto will be a familiar face — Jean-Yves Thibaudet, a specialist in French piano music, who previously appeared at Mondavi with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in January 2012, performing the Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Egyptian”) by Saint-Saëns. Thibaudet has been appearing with major orchestras and recording albums (classical music as well as film scores) for several decades.

The second half of the program is Latin American: the 1938 orchestra piece “Sensemayá” by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas (written barely two years before the composer’s early death at age 40); “O Tremzinho de Caipira” (“The Little Country Train”), which is a selection from Bachianas Brazileras No. 2, written in 1930 by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos; and “Danzon No. 2″ by the contemporary Mexican composer Arturo Márquez (written in 1994).

A pre-performance talk at 7 p.m. will feature professor Leopoldo Bernucci of UC Davis, who chairs Latin American studies in the university’s department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Tickets start at $35 general, $17.50 for UC Davis students, and are available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.

Jeff Hudson

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