The director of the State Symphony Orchestra of Mexico has been surprised to see audience members waving Mexican flags during its U.S. tour.
"It's just a classical concert," said maestro Enrique Bátiz, laughing during a phone interview.
When the group comes to the Gallo Center for the Arts next week, its goal will be to entertain people of all ethnic heritages.
"A symphony orchestra's purpose is to play good music and to play well and to please the people and to give them joy," he said.
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The orchestra will perform four pieces from Latin American, Spanish and German composers:
Manuel De Falla's "The Three Cornered Hat, Suite No. 2," a festive piece once performed as a ballet
Joaquin Rodrigo's "Fantasy for a Gentleman," celebrating Spanish composer Gaspar Sanz and guitarist Andrés Segovia. Carlos Chavez's Sinfonía India No. 2, featuring indigenous Mexican Indian melodies from the Huichol and Yaqui peoples
Brahms' Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, the composer's last and most technically difficult symphony
Guest guitarist Alfonso Moreno is the featured soloist in the Rodrigo piece. Born in Mexico, Moreno began his musical studies at age 4 and has earned degrees in violin, composition, conducting and guitar.
Founded in 1971 to create unity among Mexican citizens, the State Symphony of Mexico is based in Toluca in the central part of the nation. Bátiz, 65, has worked with the group on and off since the beginning.
One of the most famous conductors in Latin America, Bátiz began his musical career as a pianist and graduated from the Juilliard School. During the 1980s, he led the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra and started guest conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.
Bátiz's grandfather was an American who married an Italian woman in the late 19th century. After he died in a car accident in San Diego, the rest of the family, including his daughter -- Bátiz's mother -- moved to Mexico City.
Though Bátiz generally thinks politics and classical music shouldn't mix, he wasn't averse to giving his opinion on Mexican immigrants in the United States. "These people are not delinquents," he said. "They are law-abiding citizens who just want to work and get the American U.S. dollar instead of the peso. I think the Mexican-American relationship will improve when the economy of Mexico improves."
For his part, Bátiz has enjoyed touring with the orchestra in his grandfather's homeland. This is the first time the State Symphony Orchestra of Mexico has toured the U.S. in 28 years.
"We have been received with standing ovations and a lot of clapping,' he said. "We might do another tour."