DIA DE LOS MUERTOS – Celebrate with the San Francisco Symphony

Day of the Dead concert features author Laura Esquivel reading calaveras for Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

On Sunday, November 1st at 2:00 p.m., the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) celebrates Mexican culture in its second annual Día de los Muertos Family Concert, conducted by rising star Alondra de la Parra who makes her San Francisco Symphony debut. This matinee program, designed for the entire family, features “Carnival of the Animals” by Saint-Saëns with soloists Kristhyan Benitez and Ana Karina Alamo on piano and Spanish language narration by author Laura Esquivel. Ms. Esquivel, best known for writing Like Water for Chocolate, will share calaveras, traditional clever and festive Día de los Muertos epitaphs told in verse, that she has penned specifically for this SFS performance of “Carnival of the Animals.” Beginning at 1:00 p.m., an hour before the performance starts, ticketholders will enjoy a host of pre-concert festivities, refreshments and colorful displays celebrating Día de los Muertos in the Davies Symphony Hall lobby. For the Día de los Muertos Family Concert, the San Francisco Symphony offers a 50% discount on tickets for children age 17 and under.

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Alondra de la Parra, Conductor. Photo, Abby Ross

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Pianists Kristhyan Benitez and Ana Karina Alamo

The Día de los Muertos Family Concert is part of the San Francisco Symphony’s ongoing commitment to providing compelling musical experiences for families. Support for this concert is provided by the San Francisco Arts Commission and Bank of America as part of its support of community access to cultural diversity programs. The San Francisco Symphony’s MUSIC FOR FAMILIES series held at Davies Symphony Hall and the Flint Center in Cupertino offers matinee performances focusing on different aspects of the orchestra and symphonic repertoire. Specially designed to be engaging, informative and fun, these matinee concerts introduce children and families to the world of live orchestral music.
The program will include:
Revueltas: “Noche de jaranas”, from La Noche de los Mayas
Gabriela Lena Frank: Selections from Three Latin American Dances
Ginastera: “Danza del trigo”, from Estancia
Moncayo: Huapango
Saint-Saëns: The Carnival of the Animals
Márquez: Danzón No. 2

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Camille Saint-Saëns and Laura Esquivel

In the spirit of this traditional Latino holiday, there will be a musicians’ altar, a childrens’ altar made of recycled materials created in a workshop at MCCLA led by Elena Finestone, and an altar with pre-hispanic elements created by Victoria Canby. Also on display will be paper maché animals created in workshops led by Bay Area artist Colette Crutcher at the MCCLA representing those in Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals as well as a striking Day of the Dead installation created by Bay Area artist Sunny Harker. Mexican sugar skull artist Miguel Quintana will exhibit his art and give a sugar skull-making demonstration. Bilingual activities for children will include paper flower and papel picado making, face painting, print making, and a Tree of Life where audience members may leave offerings for the dead on a tree. The Mixcoatl Anahuac Aztec dancers will lead a procession from the street into Davies Symphony Hall to bless the altars. Complimentary Day of the Dead refreshments, such as the traditional pan de muerto and Mexican hot chocolate will be served. The SFS will display a collection of posters created at MCCLA’s Mission Gráfica for the Dia de los Muertos reception that has been held at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts throughout its 32 years of history. For the uninitiated, bilingual docents will be on hand to provide information about the origins and traditions associated with Día de los Muertos.
For more information: Día de los Muertos Family Concert

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Alondra de la Parra. Photo, Abby Ross

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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