Spanish sonatas and serenades for Easter

José Manuel Gil de Gálvez, left, took a bow with members of the Málaga Chamber Orchestra at The Hotchkiss School Music Center.

Alexander Wilburn

Spanish sonatas and serenades for Easter

Adding some international vigor to Easter Weekend — or Semana Santa, “The Holy Week,” as it’s known in Spain — The Hotchkiss School held a performance by the Spanish string ensemble the Málaga Chamber Orchestra in the Esther Eastman Music Center on Saturday evening, March 30. Featuring six violins, two violas, two cellos, and a double bass, the chamber music orchestra, which has performed across Europe and the U.S., is led by violinist and Grammy-nominated music producer José Manuel Gil de Gálvez. He has shared the stage with renowned musicians like classical and flamenco guitarist Pepe Romero and South Korean classical cellist Hee-Young Lim and performed at locations like The Berlin Philharmonie, The Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, and The Seoul Arts Center.

With a flamboyant head of long ringlet curls and a mustache/goatee combination reminiscent of Colin Firth’s Elizabethan lord in “Shakespeare in Love,” Gil de Gálvez is a theatrical violinist to take in live, infusing his playing with a passionate performance that heats up lively numbers like the opening Spanish serenade, “Impresiones de España” by 19th-century composer Joaquín Malats. Gil de Gálvez was in full command during his captivating violin solo, “Adiós a la Alhambra” by composer Jesús de Monasterio, who served as honorary violinist of the Capilla Real de Madrid. “Adiós” is an example of de Monasterio’s Alhambrism style, the 19th-century nationalist romantic movement, which, like the contemporary Málaga Chamber Orchestra, was keenly interested in the restoration of music from the Spanish popular heritage.

A notable upcoming free concert is the spring finale before the Hotchkiss Summer Portals begin, held on Saturday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m. The Hotchkiss Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by guest conductor Vahan Mardirossian. He currently serves as artistic director and principal conductor of the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia, as well as the principal conductor of the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong. Mardirossian will be joined on piano by Hotchkiss’s own Head of the Arts Department and Director of the Music Program Fabio Witkowski, as well as his wife, Gisele Witkowski, a piano instructor at The Hotchkiss School. The concert, titled “Vive le France!,” will feature works by French composers Hector Berlioz, Francis Poulenc, and Camille Saint-Saëns.

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