September 26, 2003

Dancing Hands

Italian pianist plays to support the creation of The Californias Philharmonic Orchestra

By Mariana Martinez

The young Italian pianist Mariangela Vacatello visited Tijuana to perform in a series of concerts Saturday and Sunday. Her visit was part of an effort to obtain funds for “The Californias Philharmonic Orchestra Project,” an ambitious plan by orchestra director Pablo Varela, to strengthen the classical music scene in Tijuana and give the city a name by bringing talented musicians from around the world to perform in the area.

“Great cities always have a Philharmonic Orchestra that makes their citizens proud, because they consider it part of their culture and defend it as their own,” said Varela.

Pablo Varela is a thirty year old orchestra director who has made his career outside México, including seven years in Italy where he met Vacatello, but for him it is imperative to come back to your home town and help to its development by making progress and linking it to the rest of the world, so his project will include musicians both form Europe, California, Baja California and South Baja California.

The Philharmonic Orchestra plans to hold its first season December 2003 through June 2004 mainly in very large forums like the California Theater at Tijuana Technological University (UTT) and the CECUT Theater, but the project will also include concerts at unusual places where music is not often played, such as the patio of the old Agua Caliente Casino —currently the Lázaro Cárdenas Federal High school— because to Varela “the high school is one of the many forgotten places in Tijuana, it is a historic place where music is not being played and it should be.”

The Orchestra will have forty highly skilled musicians; auditions will be held during October and November in Tijuana, Milan and México City in order to bring the best musicians to the project. Varela knows that his highest obstacle is money, but he hopes to get support from local businesses and mainly create a public that grows fond of the Philharmonic and helps it grow and prosper in this border area.

Dancing laughing hands

Mariangela Vacatello is just twenty years old and has been a professional pianist since the age of fourteen. She comes from a musical family where both her parents and sister are all musicians. She graduated with honors from the G. Verdi Conservatory in Milan in 1999 and has won many awards throughout her short lifetime, from such places as Albegna, Perugia, Catania, the international Franz Liszt Contest in Holland and the XVIII Venice Award 2000.

She’s been playing the piano since she was four years old, and is used to practice five or six hours a day. “It is important to have a perfect technique in order to latter express yourself trough music… I love the fact that I can express a wide range of emotions through the piano,” she said.

Mariangela has huge brown eyes that close as she runs through the keys with magical wit that keeps the audience silent. She is a strong player that seems to tremble because of the high energy required by her performance. She loves México and hopes to come again, and if Varela has his way, she and many other talents will come.

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