What’s in a Band?: Getting There


Video by Reed Nisson

This week, I’m in Rochester, New York, rehearsing with the Eastman BroadBand, a contemporary chamber orchestra at the Eastman School of Music, in preparation for our upcoming tour to Mexico. I’ll write from Rochester during the rehearsal period this week and send dispatches from Mexico when we hit the road next Monday.

Most members of the Eastman BroadBand are experienced travelers at this point, able to rehearse despite exhaustion and jet lag, prepared to perform in cramped pits or damp churches, experts in packing, hauling, and unpacking equipment. But the circumstances of their November 1 concert in New York’s Miller Theater will be extreme, even by the BroadBand’s standards. The twenty-member orchestra, its five soloists, and its conductor and artistic directors will fly from Rochester at daybreak on the day of the performance and spend the morning at the Mexican consulate in New York City. Each member of the group must apply in person for the necessary visas to travel to Guanajuato, Mexico, the ultimate destination for their latest tour. And the flights to Mexico City the following day? They leave before sunrise, too.


The Eastman BroadBand, a contemporary chamber orchestra at the Eastman School of Music

BroadBand’s performance at Miller Theater prefaces its tour to the Festival Internacíonal Cervantino, Mexico’s most dynamic artistic and cultural festival. Juan Trigos will lead the orchestra with soloists soprano Tony Arnold, pianist Cristina Valdes, percussionist Michael Burritt, and guitarist Dieter Hennings. Performers endure the extreme rehearsal and travel schedule to perform rewarding new works—many of them “signature pieces” for the ensemble. The program in New York will feature works by Latin American composers Silvestre Revueltas and Alejandro Viñao, but also the music of a contemporary generation of Mexican artists, Trigos and artistic directors Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. Hennings is featured in Trigos’s unusual guitar concerto Ricercare VI, which borrows its form from the simple harmonies of the Cuban Son. Valdes and Burritt are featured in …Ex Machina, a frenetic double concerto by Sanchez-Gutierrez, and Arnold sings two songs from Comala, a cantata by Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon based on a text by Mexican author Juan Rulfo. Arnold is joined by tenor Scott Perkins and baritone Tom Lehman in NiñoPolilla, Zohn-Muldoon’s miniature opera about a boy who is visited by a terminal disease when he disobeys his saintly parents. Ultimately, the child (Perkins) literally disintegrates in a fit of coughing and sneezing. The program will open with Fanfare by Baljinder Sekhon, II, a young American composer and one-time percussionist in the ensemble.

Eastman BroadBand has previously performed in Mexico at the Morelia and Michoacan New Music Festivals. In addition, the group was the resident ensemble for the contemporary music component of the 2008 Festival Internacíonal Chihuahua. The ensemble has also performed at the SpazioMusica Festival in Cagliari, Italy, and with the Garth Fagan Dance Company at New York City’s Joyce Theatre. The group can be heard on Cantos, with music by Zohn-Muldoon, on Bridge Records.