South and Central America

South and Central America. Although Canada and the Latin American countries are part of the western hemisphere, their musical relations have been limited, for the most part, to many visits back and forth between performers and composers.

South and Central America

South and Central America. Although Canada and the Latin American countries are part of the western hemisphere, their musical relations have been limited, for the most part, to many visits back and forth between performers and composers. The native cultures of South and Central America have little in common with those of North America, and the Spanish and Portuguese settlements in the southern countries of the hemisphere were established 200 years earlier than were the French and British settlements in the northern countries. The developments have been along lines these differences would suggest, intermigration has been slight, and post-World-War-II commercial activities linking Canada and individual South American countries have had minimal cultural impact. The two cultures are drawn to each other's music by fascination with the exotic, but have remained distinct.

Nevertheless, a few Latin American musicians have settled in Canada. Among the first was the Chilean pianist and teacher Alberto Guerrero, who arrived in Toronto, via New York, in 1919. During the early 1940s the Inca Taky Trio, a folk group from Peru, moved to Montreal and broadcast to South America for the CBC's International Service. A member of the group, the famous many-voiced singer Yma Sumac, soon departed for the USA where she pursued an exceptionally successful solo career.

Ramón Pelinski, the Argentinian-born musicologist and conductor of various tango ensembles, visited Canada in 1972 and immigrated in 1973. The conductor and violinist Ruben Gurevich immigrated to Canada from Uruguay during the late 1960s. His father also moved to Canada and became a violinist with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. The Argentinian pianist Raoul Sosa, a teacher at the CMM, settled in Montreal ca 1967. Other immigrants from Argentina in the late 1960s and early 1970s were Alcides Lanza, director of McGill University's Electronic Music Studio, and the MSO violinist and teacher Luis Grinhauz and his wife, the pianist Berta Rosenohl-Grinhauz.

Although few South Americans have chosen to live in Canada, many have visited. The famous Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreño played in Montreal as early as 1883, when she appeared as assisting artist at Emma Albani's comeback concerts. She was heard later in Toronto as well. The Chilean pianist Rosita Renard performed in Montreal in 1918.

In 1944 representatives from Canada and Brazil exchanged notes which constituted 'an agreement for the promotion of cultural relations.' As a result the Alouette Vocal Quartet travelled to Brazil, as did the composers Claude Champagne and Sir Ernest MacMillan, both of whom conducted programs of Canadian works. Champagne wrote a piece entitled Quadrilha brasileira, which was premiered by the Brazilian pianist Arnaldo Estrella. In return the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos visited Canada in 1952 and conducted the CSM Orchestra at Plateau Hall in Montreal in a concert which included two of his own works and compositions by Ernesto Drangosch of Argentina and Humberto Allende of Chile. He returned in 1958 to conduct the CBC Symphony Orchestra and the TSO.

In 1946 the CBC International Service began regular short-wave music broadcasts to South America, and these encouraged further visits by South American artists. Some of those who travelled to Montreal to perform for these broadcasts were the pianist Guiomar Novaes of Brazil, the tenor Ramon Vinay of Chile, the aforementioned Arnaldo Estrella, and the Brazilian composer José Siqueira, who conducted a program of his own works. In 1948 a special concert of Brazilian and Canadian music was broadcast in honour of Brazil's Independence Day.

Among other South American visitors to Canada have been the Brazilian soprano Bidú Sayão, who has performed in concert and opera and who served as a judge in the 1977 Montreal International Music Competition; the pianists Martha Argerich of Argentina, Claudio Arrau of Chile, Nelson Freire of Brazil, and Antonio Bujardo Octavio of Venezuela; the violinist Jaime Laredo of Bolivia. In 1965 the Brazilian composer Francesco Mignone visited Canada as a jury member for the Montreal International Competition - that year in piano. Mignone's Tres preludios sobra temas canadenses, based on French-Canadian folksongs, have been recorded by the pianist André-Sebastien Savoie (RCI 418).

Orchestras heard in Canada include the Brazilian National Symphony, which performed with the conductor Eleazar de Carvalho at the NAC in November 1977. The National Children's Choir of Argentina has appeared in Canada, as has the politically oriented Chilean group Quilapayun. In 1967 the Consejo Interamerica de Musica (CIDEM (Inter-American Music Council)) held its fifth general assembly in Toronto. Arnold Walter was a founding member and president 1969-72.

Numerous Canadian musicians have paid visits to South America. Probably the first to do so were J.-B. Labelle and Calixa Lavallée, both of whom toured there in 1857. The violinist Frantz Jehin-Prume spent some time in Mexico, Brazil, and Cuba in the mid-1860s before settling in Montreal. Edward Johnson sang at Buenos Aires' Teatro Colon in 1916.

The pianist Jean Dansereau gave several recitals and broadcasts 1942-3 in Rio de Janeiro; Ellen Ballon, the dedicatee of Villa-Lobos's First Piano Concerto, premiered it in Rio in 1946; and Raoul Jobin sang in Werther and Gluck's Armide at the Teatro Colón in 1948. Other noted Canadians who have appeared at that famous opera house include Maureen Forrester, George London, Ermanno Mauro, Joseph Rouleau, Léopold Simoneau, and Jon Vickers. The tenor Pierre Duval has sung in Chile, and the tenor André Turp at the Municipal Opera in Rio de Janeiro. The contralto Portia White toured in Central and South America in 1946.

Herman Geiger-Torel spent many years as a stage director at opera houses such as the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the SODRE National Theatre in Montevideo, and the Municipal Theatre in Rio de Janeiro prior to settling in Canada.

Canadians who have conducted in Latin America include Alexander Brott, Laszlo Gati, Paul Pratt, Heinz Unger, and Reginald Stewart. The pianists André Asselin, Arthur Ozolins, and Claude Savard, the flutist Suzanne Shulman, and the chamber group Camerata have performed in South America.

In 1968 Talivaldis Kenins' Suite in D for organ (1967) was premiered by Christian Grundman at Caracas, Venezuela. In 1977 John Rea's D'après Vasarely was heard for the first time in a performance at the University of Santa Fe, Argentina. In 1979 the Montreal composer Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux was a guest at the 'Curso Latino Americano de musica contemporanea' in São João de Rei, Brazil. Bruce Mather and Pierrette LePage have visited Argentina, as has the McGill Chamber Orchestra.

See also Caribbean, Cuba, Mexico.