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Tito Muñoz explains the Mexican connection to baroque Buxtehude

The San Antonio Philharmonicbegins 2023 with a terrificpair of concerts featuring the young violinist Randall Goosby, conducted by Tito Muñoz. TPR's Barry Brake interviewed Muñoz about the program on Classical Connections.

Barry Brake Classical music on KPAC music by Peter Tchaikovsky, one of those great favorites among composers. And you're in luck because the San Antonio Philharmonic is going to be playing Tchaikovsky and more this weekend. Friday and Saturday, the 13th and 14th over at First Baptist, it's the San Antonio Philharmonic. Here to talk more about it is the acclaimed music director conductor for this weekend, Tito Muñoz. Hello.

Tito Muñoz Hello. Nice to be here.

Barry Brake Oh, it's a pleasure to have you. Okay. Tell us everything we need to know about this coming weekend.

Tito Muñoz Well, it's full of music that I personally love. The Buxtehude chaconne, which I take around with me quite a bit. It's a piece that is not very well known in the United States, but it's known quite a bit in Mexico. And the reason is Buxtehude--not a Mexican composer in any way--but this particular version that we're going to be doing... Buxtehude was an organist. He wrote a lot of music for the organ. And the Mexican composer Carlos Chavez in the 1930s arranged this particular organ piece, this chaconne in E minor for a very large orchestra, although he left a version also to play with a little bit of a smaller orchestra, which is the version that we're going to be doing. But it's a very grand orchestration of this organ piece.

Barry Brake Very 20th century idea there right? Stokowski was doing the same thing, Bernstein did those giant things...

Tito Muñoz That's correct. Exactly right. I mean, if you've heard Disney's Fantasia, the Bach Toccata and Fugue, it's [a] very similar vein. It's just that it's actually quite beautiful because it's it's a long line. It's variations on a bass line and ends with a huge with the whole orchestra really playing quite grand. So it's a piece I love to bring because it's a great opener. It feels very satisfying for the musicians to play and also for the audience to hear. So we have that to open the concert. We have the beloved Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, which of course is an audience favorite anywhere, no matter what. And you know, you can't even wait till the end of the piece. People are always on their feet at the end of the first movement because it's such a huge and wonderfully grand piece and virtuosic piece played by the great young Randall Goosby. I've never worked with him before. I don't think I've ever met him before, so I'm going to meet him for the first time.

Barry Brake We've heard so much about him and such a terrific musical, we've heard that he puts on a good show... Protege of Itzhak Perlman!

Tito Muñoz That's right. And he's the youngest recipient ever [to] win the Sphinx competition, a wonderful musician. I've certainly heard him play before, but I've never had a chance to work with him. So this will be really nice on a wonderful piece, the Tchaikovsky. And then to close one of Beethoven's, I suppose you could call it one of his later symphonies. It's almost like the even numbers are always the lighter ones...

Barry Brake Kind of like with Star Trek movies!

Tito Muñoz I suppose that's true, too! Yeah. But, you know, right in between, like the monumental third, the monumental fifth. And then in between, you have this light effervescent fourth symphony, which is also one of my favorites to do because it's not done enough, I think. And it's certainly a lot of fireworks in the orchestra that the audience will hear.

Barry Brake What a show. Goodness gracious. There's just it's lots of entertainment, lots of meat on the platter. And that's the fifth concert program of the San Antonio Philharmonic that's happening January 13th and 14th, Friday the 13th, your lucky day. It's going to be a great concert. Saturday, the 14th. Tito Muñoz, acclaimed music director and conductor, thanks for flying in from Phoenix and all the very best for this coming weekend.

Tito Muñoz Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Below: Enjoy a performance by this week's soloist, Randall Goosby.

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Barry Brake is a composer, jazz and classical pianist who has been a part of San Antonio's music scene for decades. You can find his musings and musical exploits online here: http://barrybrake.com/