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School Shows


One of the objectives of the Cayambis Institute for Latin American Studies in Music (CILASiM) is to strengthen the awareness and appreciation of Latin American classical music. In support of this mission, the Institute operates a professional ensemble, the Cayambis Sinfonietta, which is made up of winds, strings, percussion and piano; in essence, the ensemble is like a miniature orchestra that can effectively perform a wide range of music of different styles and time periods.

In addition to performing formal concerts throughout the mid-Atlantic region, the Sinfonietta’s members are very excited about taking a special interactive program to middle and high schools in southwest Virginia, southern West Virginia and north-central North Carolina.

A Fundamental Question.

Our program asks students to consider a fundamental question: How do Latin Americans express national identity? In other words, in what ways does a Venezuelan identify himself or herself differently than someone from Colombia? Or, what makes a Chilean different from someone who is from Argentina? More importantly, how does this align with our own perception of Latin American identity?

Our answer to these questions is built around an iconic orchestral work, Huapango, that was composed in 1941 by Mexican composer José Moncayo. The Sinfonietta’s director, John Walker, adapted this piece and, together with the members of the Sinfonietta, demonstrate and explain the typical elements of Latin American classical music (e.g., call-and-response, folkloric melodies and rhythmic patterns, the use of colorful percussive effects, etc).

José Moncayo, Huapango (arr. by Walker), final section.

But this search for identity has not been limited to music. In fact, since about the end of the 19th century, it has been expressed in many other ways, such as in the visual arts, literature and religion. We will bring these connections to life by not only performing two additional compositions, but also, by exhibiting, viewing and discussing other creative works. For instance, to illustrate the continuing importance of pre-Hispanic religion in Guatemala, we perform
a musical composition, and, display and discuss modern line drawings, all influenced by the Popol Vuh, which is the foundational sacred narrative of the Mayan people.

Technical Requirements.

The presentation lasts about 45 minutes, and if required, can be tailored for younger students.

The Sinfonietta can perform at virtually any location as long as there are ten appropriate chairs and a nearby 110-volt outlet.

Would You Like to Have the Sinfonietta in Your School?

Let us know, and we will do our best to get our ensemble into your school.

Would You Like to Sponsor a Program?

You can!

Although the Sinfonietta is comprised of seasoned players who make their living as professional players, it wants to be able to take this unique and very special presentation to every school, irrespective of the school’s ability to cover the group’s professional fee, which is $1500.

If you would like to sponsor our program in the school of your choice, use any one of the three buttons below to make a tax-exempt donation to the Cayambis Institute. Your generous contribution will immediately put plans in motion to get the Sinfonietta to that school as soon as possible.

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Thank you!