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Alt.Latino Goes Classical: Orchestral Music From Latin America

José Martinez's mariachi opera <em>Cruzar La Cara De La Luna</em> premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in 2010.
Felix Sanchez
Houston Grand Opera
José Martinez's mariachi opera Cruzar La Cara De La Luna premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in 2010.

I bet you don't think of classical works when you think of the catch-all phrase "Latin music." But this episode of Alt.Latino is here to tell you that you should.

We invited our colleague Tom Huizenga to sit in this week for Jasmine Garsd while she takes a well-deserved vacation. Tom writes NPR Music's Deceptive Cadence blog about all things classical, and on this episode of Alt.Latino, he offers a concise beginner's overview of what and whom you should hear in classical music from Latin America.

If you think classical isn't your thing, consider these highlights from the show: music by a Brazilian composer that dramatically represents a train ride through the Brazilian jungle; newly discovered manuscripts that were locked in a Bolivian cathedral for centuries; an American pianist, this country's first big-shot music superstar, whose music was heavily influenced by Cuba; and two Mexican composers who put that country on the classical map shortly after the Mexican Revolution, with music celebrating the country's indigenous people.

And I didn't even mention the mariachi opera!

There's more to classical music from Latin America than you think. Listen now and discover that world for yourself.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Hear The Music

Tomas Luis de Victoria: Requiem — 'Kyrie'

"Missa Pro defunctis II, for 6 voices [Kyrie]"

From 'Renaissance Radio'

By The Tallis Scholars

Santiago de Murcia: Cumbes


From 'El Nuevo Mundo'

By Jordi Savall

Domenico Zipoli: Sonata

"In hoc Mundo, for voice & ensemble [Sonata]"

From 'Bolivian Baroque [includes DVD]'

By Florilegium

Bamboula (Danse des nègres)

"Bamboula, danse des nègres for piano, Op. 2, D. 13 (RO 20)"

From 'Louis Moreau Gottschalk: Piano Music'

By Cecile Licad

Heitor Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2, Toccata — 'Little Train of Caipira'

"Bachianas Brasileiras No. 2, for orchestra, A. 247 [Toccata - O trenzinho do Caipira (The Peasant's Little Train)]"

From 'Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras (Complete)'

By Nashville Symphony

Heitor Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, 'Aria'

"Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, for voice & 8 cellos, A. 389 [Aria]"

From 'Heitor Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras Nos. 1, 2, 5 & 9'

By Victoria de los Angeles

Silvestre Revueltas: La Noche de los Mayas — 'Noche de encantamiento'

"La Noche de los Mayas, suite for orchestra (compiled by José Limantour from the film score) [Noche de encantamiento (Night of Enchantment)]"

From 'Revueltas: Orchestral Music'

By Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra, Mexico

Carlos Chavez: Xochipilli, an Imagined Aztec Music

"Xochipilli, an Imagined Aztec Music"

From 'Carlos Chavez: Chamber Works'

By Eduardo Mata

Alberto Ginastera: Estancia — 'Malambo'


From 'Latin American Classics, Vol. 1'

By Enrique Bátiz / Festival Orchestra Of Mexico

Martinez: Cruzar la Cara de la Luna — 'A Town Without Men'

"Cruzar la Cara de la Luna - 'A Town Without Men'"

From 'José "Pepe" Martinez: Cruzar la Cara de la Luna'

By Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán

Roberto Sierra: Sinfonia No. 3, 'La Salsa' — 'Jolgorio'

"Sinfonía No. 3 ("La Salsa") [Jolgorio]"

From 'Roberto Sierra: Sinfonía No. 3 'La Salsa''

By Maximiano Valdes

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.