By Ted AYALA
Summer is often a time for leisure for many people – but not for Sonia Marie de León de Vega. For nearly a quarter of a century, she has been the engaging and energetic music director of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, whose home is Occidental College’s Thorne Hall in Eagle Rock. Over the summer she was the keynote speaker at Latina Style Magazine’s Business Series in Anaheim, organized concerts of the Santa Cecilia’s youth orchestra and appeared on television. In July, de León de Vega appeared on KABC’s “Vista L.A.” where she spoke about her commitment to opening children’s minds to the world of music.
Now her hard work has borne fruit with the announcement of the orchestra’s 2011-12 season and a premiere of a work by one of Mexico’s most popular composers.
“This is going to be our 19th year,” said de León de Vega. “We’re so happy and excited to nearing our big 20th anniversary.”
Music by Mendelssohn, Bruch and Brahms will open the season on Sunday, Nov. 6. One of the orchestra’s great virtues is the musicianship and quality of its individual members, a facet that is featured every year in a concert exhibiting their talents. Violist Lauren Chipman and clarinetist Michael Arnold will join together in a performance of Max Bruch’s Concerto for Clarinet, Viola, and Orchestra. An obscure work by a composer that has remained on the periphery of the repertoire, de León de Vega explained why she chose to conduct this work.
“I’m always looking for great music that isn’t often performed. When I came across this concerto, I knew it was just perfect for us. It’s a beautiful work; very accessible.”
Each year a concert devoted to Latin American composers closes the season and 2011-12 is no different.
The season will end with a concert of Latin American composers, with one work a Los Angeles premiere. “Leyenda de Miliano” by Arturo Márquez, Mexico’s most often performed living composer, is a new work that depicts the life of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata.
“Emiliano Zapata was called ‘Miliano’ by his family, which explains the title,” explained the Santa Cecilia’s music director. “The orchestra is very happy and proud to be asked to perform this premiere.”
Gershwin and Dvorak also rear their heads in the season with a pairing of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F – the orchestra’s first performance of a work by Gershwin ¬¬– and the Bohemian’s Symphony No. 7. Bryan Pezzone is the guest pianist in the Gershwin.
With a season that looks to be the orchestra’s best yet, de León de Vega reflected on the orchestra’s quality and mission.
“We do all we can to introduce people to culture; to bring beauty into their lives.”
For more information, visit the orchestra’s website at www.scorchestra.org or call (323) 259-3011.