Honors College Professor Brings to Life Latin American and Iberian Zarzuelas

May 12, 2014

As the semester draws to a close, the UNM Honors Research Institute presents original music from Manuel Areu, a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century composer of zarzuelas, or Spanish operettas. This music, rediscovered and prepared for performance by the Honors Research Institute under the guidance of Dr. Javier Lorenzo, has not been heard in a century. A student symposium will take place on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. and a concert will take place on Thursday, May 15, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. For reference, see the event flyer.

The presentation recognizes the work of Javier Lorenzo, the 2013-2014 Garrey Carruthers Chair in Honors.

The UNM Honors College received a $1 million gift from the Burlington Resources Foundation. The purpose of the gift was to establish a Garrey Carruthers Chair in Honors. Over the years, the Honors College has attracted many distinguished scholars who have resided in the Honors College either for one semester or for an academic year. The intent of the Chair was to bring outstanding scholars to the University of New Mexico to benefit the Honors College, as well as the entire campus.

Javier Alejandro Lorenzo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has been a teacher, Conductor, and choirmaster since 1984. He received his master's degree in orchestral conducting from the University of New Mexico in 2002 and music degree from the National Conservatory of Music in Buenos Aires in 1981. He is also an accomplished choral director and music producer. Javier Lorenzo produced and conducted the impressive production of Astor Piazzolla's internationally renowned "tango operita" María de Buenos Aires, in the inaugural season at the Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The production featured a celebrity cast of artists from Buenos Aires and original choreography, lighting, stage and costume design. As the NHCC's musical director, Javier Lorenzo premiered works by Latin American composers in the Fiesta de las Américas, a series of classical, folk, and popular music from Latin America. He conducted chamber, choral and orchestral concerts with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. Lorenzo concluded the season with Ariel Ramirez's Misa Criolla, performed with a chorus of 100 voices and traditional folkloric instruments.

Javier Lorenzo taught seminars about Latin American music in the UNM Honors Program: "Tango" and "Drums & Dreams," the latter with Dr. Celia López-Chávez. Since 2005, he has been the Music Director of "Tango in Green" working in the promotion of Latin American music.

As part of his activities in the UNM Honors College, Javier Lorenzo has worked on the research of "Manuel Areu Collection," a set of nineteenth-century zarzuelas, selecting and preparing unpublished scores for their first performance. Honors students have participated in this interdisciplinary project. This research represents the work behind this week's student symposium and concert.

The Areu Collection, which represents the major composers and librettists of the late nineteenth-century, contains 131 zarzuelas, miscellaneous music, plays, playbills, and personal papers. Of the zarzuelas, about 100 originated in Spain, and a small number from Cuba and Mexico. There are also several translations and arrangements of French, Italian and Viennese operettas. Almost half of the zarzuelas are one-act works, about one-third contain two or more acts, and the remainder are of undetermined length. Only a dozen works are complete with librettos and orchestral parts, but there are over eighty workable zarzuelas with conductors' scores and/or piano-vocal scores. As a performing collection, it is a valuable source of many possibly rare or unavailable works.