Falla and Gerhard on Jacaranda Music Roster


The passing of nearly a century – and with it a transformation from democracy to dictatorship to, eventually, democracy once more – has yet to still the aftershocks of Spain’s bloody civil war, its rumblings making themselves felt to this very day.

It was last year when Catalonia, one of Spain’s most prosperous regions, held a controversial election seeking independence from the Spanish state. The decades-long Falangist rule under Generalissimo Francisco Franco, during which Catalan culture and language were violently suppressed, had left lasting wounds on the collective psyche of the region. The ghosts of history thought long vanquished reemerge and haunt our present.

The dynamism of Catalan culture yesterday and today, borne of joy and sorrow, will be the subject of Jacaranda Music’s latest musical exploration on Saturday night.

Works by Manuel de Falla and Roberto Gerhard join those by Tomás Peire Serrate, a Catalan composer living in Los Angeles, in a program that explores nationalism, exile, and cosmopolitanism.

Falla, considered by many to be the greatest Spanish composer of the 20th century, set off for a life as an exile in Argentina after the rise of the Franco regime. Awards and honors failed to lure him back; he refused all enticements to return to Spain.

Gerhard was a born cosmopolitan, born in Catalonia to Swiss-German and Alsatian parents. His open support for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War necessitated his exile, first to France, then finally to England where he enjoyed recognition and acclaim. A student of Arnold Schoenberg’s, Gerhard became one of the leading avant-garde composers in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s.

This volatile mix of the local and faraway, national and international, fizzes in their music, which looks both looks toward Spain and turns its gaze away from it.

Jacaranda Music’s “Regional Accents” program will take place Saturday, May 19 at 8 p.m. at Santa Monica First Presbyterian Church (1220 2nd St., Santa Monica). The program will be preceded at 7 p.m. by a conversation with Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, who will discuss the current political situation in Spain and its effects on the arts. General admission tickets are $45, student tickets are $20. To obtain tickets and more information, please visit www.jacarandamusic.org or call (213) 483-0216.