CREATION The Orchestra of New Spain was founded in 1989 by conductor Grover Wilkins as a means of enhancing the place of the landmark Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe in the heart of the aborning Dallas Arts District. Plans for a concert series there led to his 1985 discovery of the neglected, staggeringly beautiful major musical works of the Spanish 17th and 18th centuries.
The opportunity to capitalize on this rediscovery came with the opening celebration of the I. M. Pei-designed Meyerson Symphony Center in October, 1989, for which its first concert was given. Seizing on the occasion of the Colombian Quincentenary, the Orchestra successfully realized its first four annual concerts, establishing itself as the premier exponent in the world of the lost music of the Spanish Baroque.
PROGRAMMING The Orchestra's concerts feature 18th-century Spanish works, unpublished and found only in manuscript in the libraries of the Royal Court and cathedrals in Spain for which they were originally written and where they have lain dormant for the past two centuries. The impressive quality of these worksófor orchestra, soloists and chorusóreflects the importance of the Spanish capital in the artistic life of Europe of the 18th century, and its direct artistic links to Vienna, Paris and the Italian states.
To more successfully address a larger and increasingly diverse public the Orchestra has, since the 1993 season, included works from the general repertory of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Played on period instruments, an essential factor in performance today, these concerts allow a comparison to be made between the Spanish works and the established period repertory.
DEVELOPMENT The Orchestra has been generously supported since its inception by the Dallas community, and increasingly has found support both nationally and internationally. It has been funded four times by the National Endowment for the Arts, annually by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and since 2002 by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. Its repertory and conductor have been featured on National Public Radio, in Spain's National Auditorium, and on European radio and television.
COMMUNITY AND EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVES The Orchestra has taken particular interest in supporting Dallas schools, especially those serving the Hispanic community. Its school concerts feature its regular concert repertory, convinced that well presented it communicates well in and of itself. Teaching materials are available for all its programs. The Orchestra actively seeks support for development of in-school and children's concerts and can tailor-make programs where requested.
INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES AND RECORDING. In December 1995, J P Morgan Paris sponsored the celebration of the 30th anniversary of its Madrid office presenting in Madrid's National Auditorium a concert of the Orchestra of New Spain's repertory with Maestro Wilkins conducting the Radiotelevision Orchestra of Spain. A CD of that concert was released in May 1996.
The Pegasus Musical Society, legal name for the Orchestra, established a Madrid-based affiliate, MADRID BARROCO, on the occasion of the opening of the Jubilee Year in November 1999. That concert, in the Almudena Cathedral of Madrid, was recorded by Dorian Records for release in fall 2001: Madrid 1752: Sacred Music from the Royal Chapel of Spain.
As of fall 2002, the Orchestra has worked with the Spanish Ministry of Culture to program a series of concerts throughout the United States. It has recently made its first foray into Mexico.
RATIONALE The opening to Spain by the European Common Market, the influx of Hispanics into the US in recent years, and the Hemisphere Trade Agreement all point to an increasing awareness of the presence and importance of Hispanic traditions in contemporary culture and society. These concerts and associated activities are a unique occasion to explore the rich cultural heritage of Hispanicism and, in turn, its relatively unknown contributions to American culture and world arts.
THE CHALLENGE From the first Dallas hearing of these works, it has been a foregone conclusion that the repertory need only be played in order for its value and importance to be recognized by the music community, professional and public. The risks that the Orchestra takes are formidable. There are few orchestras in the world which play, in each concert, works that are totally unknown. But this has been the practice of the Orchestra of New Spain from the beginning. Furthermore, the research and study of the Orchestra's Music Director has been rigorous and is the chief factor in the continual output of exceptional works by the Orchestra.
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