LAS CRUCES — The Esperanza Azteca Symphony Orchestra of Ciudad Juarez and New Mexico State University Philharmonic Orchestra came together to highlight “Music Beyond Borders” with joint concerts on both sides of the U.S., Mexico border.
More than 100 student musicians performed a variety of pieces including Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Márquez’s Danzón 2, Gershwin’s Summertime conducted under the baton of teachers Simón Gollo of NMSU and Maestro Jove García of Esperanza Azteca.
“This concert means a lot to me because it represents the union of these two countries and how we see each other,”said Grace Garcia, a student in Azteca Esperanza orchestra.
Student musicians aged 12 to 24 years-old performed together.
“Everyone is really talented I had the pleasure to play with them, I felt really comfortable and I loved all the pieces that we play,” said Ana Patricia Gonzalez, a University of Texas at El Paso student.
The first concert was on March 1 at the Atkinson Recital Hall in Las Cruces on the NMSU campus and the second performance was the next day at the Paso del Norte Cultural Center in Ciudad Juárez.
Esperanza Azteca has participated in joint concerns with other North American symphonies in the past including the Aspen Institute in Colorado, in Los Angeles where they have an orchestra, and at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York. However this was the first time Esperanza Azteca has played they played in New Mexico with NMSU students.
“It’s the first time that their orchestra comes to New Mexico, and the first time the NMSU Orchestra goes Ciudad Juarez and since meeting all these children, I now consider (Juarez) a wonderful city, a magical city,” said Gollo.
Esperanza Azteca is a non-profit organization that has 62 symphony orchestras and choirs across Mexico including the one in Juarez at Centro Universitario de las Artes Zona Pronaf . About 12,000 young musicians nationwide participate in the Orchestras where along with music they also develop discipline, the pursuit of excellence and teamwork.
“It is an incubator of good Mexicans, which inspires us to continue working and investing in them” according to Ricardo B. Salinas Pliego, president of Group Salina on the Esperanza Azteca website.
Esperanza Azteca began in 2009 as a social-musical program for children and teens with limited resources.
“In this process we were able to share during two days at our University we opened the doors of a house that was anxious to receive hope, to receive the music that all these young people do,” Gollo said.
This event was full of emotions, much enthusiasm on the part of everyone. The Orchestra and the audience were connected all the time. Lots of dancing and applauding, standing ovation and even singing the national anthem among other melodies.
“Youth showed us that the difference is made from them in their basic environment because of what they bring to the communities of Juarez/El Paso, and now the city of Las Cruces could see the joy, teamwork and solidarity between communities, enthusiasm, participation and social responsibility,” said TV Azteca anchor Noel Edmundo Ramirez.
”At a time where there are administrations that want to build higher walls, we have to keep fighting so that the pentagrams are the only barrier between Juarez and the United States,” Gollo said.
The two-day binational concert had support from both sides of the border in bringing young musicians together including the Mexican Consulate in El Paso, the NMSU Philharmonic Orchestra, the Azteca Foundation and the Association of Friends of the Esperanza Azteca Symphony Orchestra of Ciudad Juarez.
The Esperanza Azteca Orchestra’s website has a full schedule of performances including eight concerts in low income neighborhoods in Ciudad Juarez to inspire other young musicians.