Middle Eastern musicians lead first concert

By Freya Bergren

The Orchestra of Spain’s (ONS) 2021-22 season of eight events begins October 16 with a Garden Concert and picnic on the vast lawn of Dallas philanthropist Trammell S. Crow Jr. Presenting the Rahim AlHaj Trio of Middle Eastern musicians led by AlHaj, the world’s foremost oud player, the program will be of traditional Arabic music and modern compositions ranging from Spain to the Oriental Crescent. The second concert finds ONS in the Great Hall of the Fair Park Hall of State for a Renaissance Baroque celebration of El Pasoan Tom Lea, multifaceted artist, muralist and writer, in a program reflecting on his illustrated novel, “The Hands of Cantú,” about a horse whisperer who trained the Spanish horses imported to Mexico and then the Southwest United States in the 16th century. This year, Christmas at Our Redeemer features a traditional Spanish and Mexican pageant known as “La Pastorela,” a musical retelling with costumes and drama, of the shepherds’ journey to Bethlehem, with villancicos illustrating their colorful stories of local country folk. The concerts will be repeated in the community outreach concerts at Epiphany.

The program will be of traditional Arabic music and modern compositions ranging from Spain to the Oriental Crescent.
Photo courtesy of the Rahim AlHaj Trio

The popular Convivencia program this year brings new collaboration with Sephardic guest artist Tamar Ilana, as well as an academic presentation of the historic roots of this extraordinary medieval period in Al-Andalus, hosted by SMU’s World Languages and Jewish Studies Departments, and the Dallas Institute. For February’s staged production at The Moody, ONS returns to the flamenco program cancelled last year, featuring a traditional Mexican Pastorela theme, with dancers from Albuquerque’s Yjastros Flamenco Company. ONS provides Renaissance music; choreography is by Joaquín Encinias, Lidón Patiño and Daniel Doña. The season closes celebrating Juneteenth for the second year, with classical music written by black composers, highlighting more works of Jessie Montgomery among others, and introducing Dallas native, soprano Ashley Renee.

ONS will be following CDC masking protocols and has scheduled two Garden concerts for audience safety outdoors, continuing to use large venues that have a record of safety through masking and social distancing.  

For those who are not yet comfortable indoors, a hybrid season of live streaming of all indoor concerts is available.

Season subscriptions can be purchased through orchestraofnewspain.org, and individual tickets are available through ticketdfw.com or by calling 214-871-5000.  

“The experience of having been able to successfully present six out of eight live concerts of our 2020-21 Masked Season now allows us to bring back with further enrichment the two COVID cancelled events of last season, an expanded Convivencia Historical program and new choreographic input with the Flamenco Pastorela,” said ONS Artistic Director Grover Wilkins. “Regarding the coming season,” he added, “the Orchestra of New Spain has been small and agile enough to navigate the storms of COVID, as we face yet another season with a need for precaution. We continue to innovate with exciting partners for our Spanish/Hispanic music, theater and dance programs in the double Christmas Pageant (Pastorela) and Flamenco Pastorela, and with the growing interest in our Juneteenth program, we are expanding our geographic outreach to other communities in the Metroplex.”