The Delaware Symphony Orchestra has launched a major international recording project that will feature Brasil Guitar Duo—exceptional Brazilian guitarists João Luiz and Douglas Lora—performing three concerts for two guitars and orchestra, including the U.S. premiere of “The Book of Signs” by Cuban composer and cultural icon Leo Brouwer, plus concerts by noted contemporary Brazilian composers Paulo Bellinati and Egberto Gismonti. The recording will be made during concerts with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra on Feb. 26 and Feb. 28. It will be produced and distributed internationally by Naxos, the world’s leading classical music label, known for recording exciting new repertoire with exceptional talent.
Music director David Amado will conduct the DSO and Brasil Guitar Duo in the concerts “Fantastic Guitars” at the Geipel Center at Sanford School in Hockessin. “The opportunity to work with such fine musicians documenting such interesting, beautiful, and important repertoire is a rare privilege,” Amado says. “I look forward to the process, to the music-making and, of course, to the successful release of this wonderful album.” Amado describes the effort as a “confluence of cultures.”
“Leo Brouwer’s permission for the U.S. premiere performance and recording of his “The Book of Signs” for two guitars and string orchestra ignited this powerful collaboration, and we are thrilled to be a part of it, especially at this unprecedented period of thaw between the U.S. and Cuba. As diplomats smooth the political creases, artists can smooth the cultural ones.”
In spite of its political isolation, Cuba has been an artistic powerhouse, and Leo Brouwer has been a primary source of that energy. His work as a guitarist and a composer has been celebrated around the world. “This is a rare opportunity to document the work of one of the guitar world’s most important voices in a once-in-a-lifetime political climate,” Amado says. This is the second time in the past 10 yeas that the DSO will record works for guitars and orchestra for a commercial CD. The last effort, in 2010, garnered the DSO a Latin Grammy nomination. The second half of each concert will be devoted to the monumental “Symphonie fantastique” of Hector Berlioz. “There are few works better suited to showcasing our orchestra’s tremendous range—Berlioz’s opium-fueled tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and murder is one of classical music’s most gloriously over-the-top masterpieces,” Amado says. “With its spectacular orchestration, riveting narrative, tolling bells, a guillotine, and the ‘Witches Sabbath,’ Berlioz’s masterpiece is a great way to heat up a cold February night.”
As in each of the Classics Concerts of the season, performances will feature sounds of the Bells of Remembrance. The collection of large, refurbished church bells, a memorial project conceived to honor victims of the 9-11 attacks, have tolled at observances around the country, but are housed here in Delaware. The largest of the bells, weighing 5,000 pounds and cast in 1895, will be on display outside the Geipel Center on the days of the concerts, and two of the smaller tuned bells (G, at 1,250 lbs. and C, at 650), will be played on stage in the Symphonie fantastique. “Many great masters conceived of bells in their symphonic works,” said DSO Music Director David Amado, “but due to logistical and practical circumstances, they settled for notional bells—played on long metal tubes or large sheets of metal. But the spectacular Bells of Remembrance change that. As deeply symbolic as they are gorgeous to see and hear, we are thrilled and moved by Brother David Schlatter’s generosity and graciousness in allowing us to feature them in each concert this season.”