Bring in the new year with some Spanish fire
Who: The Colorado Springs Philharmonic, conducted by Josep Caballé-Domenech, and mezzo soprano Karin Mushegain, flamenco dancer Julia Chacon
When: 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31
Where: Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.
Tickets: $19-$59; 520-7469;,pikespeakcenter.com
Next: "Disney in Concert" 8 p.m. Jan. 12
"I want to put this orchestra on fire."
In the three interviews I've had with Colorado Springs Philharmonic's Josep Caballé-Domenech this past year, this is what he invariably declares. New Year's Eve just might make this a reality.
"En Fuego" is Spanish for "on fire." This is Barcelonan Caballé-Domenech's title for Monday's 8 p.m. Pikes Peak Center concert. He has constructed a program either directly from or inspired by his homeland. He says we are going to be reveling in some of the most passionate and exciting music ever composed.
Although this is Caballé-Domenech's second year as the Philharmonic music director, it has been his first real opportunity to develop the artistry of the ensemble to his liking.
"It's a hard process. It's like a relationship," he says of working with the orchestra. "They saw me. I saw them. Then, let's put it this way - we date. And now we are living together and working hard. They're making fantastic progress. We are in the right direction."
With this program and the Classical Masterworks concert scheduled on April 13 and 14, Caballé-Domenech challenges his ensemble to produce music as if they were native to the Iberian peninsula. "It's hard training to sound like an orchestra playing music from its own nation, but it pays off."
He has performed this same New Year's concert twice before: in Switzerland and then in Germany.
"I present a program that is the best of the Spanish music," he said. "I'll have a singer (mezzo soprano Karin Mushegain) and a flamenco dancer (Julia Chacon) interacting. Some will be just the orchestra, then joined by the singer or dancer, and then some will be all together."
The program will present what he calls "serious" Spanish music, much of it contemporary, followed by selections from Zarzuela, the traditional Spanish idea of operetta. Two of the composers will be easily recognized by classical music fans: Emmanuel Chabrier and Manuel de Falla. But the nine others will largely be a mystery to American ears, although well known to Spaniards.
The music of Xavier Montsalvatge does occasionally make its way into American concert halls and Caballé-Domenech is especially excited to introduce Springs audiences to Montsalvatge's "Cinco canciones negras (Five black songs)," which was composed in 1945.
"It's one of the best Spanish works," he said. "They are the most beautiful ones I've ever heard. It's a fantactic piece.
"It's a very dynamic program and at the end of the concert, I want people to experience that they had a very broad spectrum of what Spanish music has to offer. It's like a 'tapas' concert: You have a little bit of everything in a very nice way."
The concert ends at about 10 p.m., leaving everyone time to take in the New Year in their own way. At the stroke of midnight, Caballé-Domenech promises to honor at least one tradition from his homeland: He'll eat 12 grapes. One for each chime of the clock.
"It's pretty difficult to eat 12 grapes at that speed," he said. "Someone can get hurt if you are not quick enough. Sometimes I finish on time, sometimes I don't."
Another tradition will go unobserved. He does not plan on wearing new red underwear.
"I never did this, but it's a huge 'Noche Vieja' tradition. Many people put it in their pockets and it ends up on heads. But if you do that, you will have good luck in the New Year. So it's up to the audience if they want to do this. I'm not going to ask from the stage 'Who is wearing that?'"