Yucatan Symphony Orchestra: Yucatan’s Cherished Cultural Heritage
The Yucatan Symphony Orchestra, now officially recognized by the state of Yucatan as an entity of Cultural Heritage, has managed for more than a century to perform not only in Yucatan but also on grand stages of Mexico, with international artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Plácido Domingo, Juan Diego Flórez, Sarah Brightman, Elton John, Filippa Giordano, renown Yucatecan composer Armando Manzanero and more. They have made a significant contribution to the development of the arts and culture in Yucatan. The Orchestra graces Merida with class, sophistication and a level of musical talent that is exceptional.
Pandemic and the Orchestra
During the pandemic the Orchestra saw its most difficult time. They not only were forced to close the theater doors to the public, but they lost much needed government funding. However, they continued to prevail and give us all live concerts on Facebook and Youtube to lift our spirits. At MID CityBeat we featured the orchestra regularly in our feed as well as invited individual artists to take over our live and give us performances. All those in the community who appreciate the orchestra, tried to do what we could to continue to support the arts. In November of 2020, an initiative was introduced to the senate to declare the Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán (OSY), Cultural Heritage of the State.
“La Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán, deserves recognition, after more than a century of history during which they have performed on the most prestigious stages of our country, with international artists and have contributed enormously to the cultural development of Yucatan.” – Congresswoman Milagros Romero Bastarrachea
The Orchestra Season
The season starts in September and goes through December and then again in January going through June with 2 concerts almost every week: Friday evenings and Sunday midday.
The orchestra’s base musicians consist of 65 master musicians from all over the world.
10 First violins, 10 Second violins, 8 Violas, 6 Violoncellos, 4 Bass, 3 Flutes, 3 Oboes, 3 Clarinets, 3 Bassoonists, 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, 1 Tuba, 1 Harp, 3 Percussionists
The contribution they have made to the cultural life of the city has been tremendous. It is an honor to have such talented and top level musicians internationally recognized grace the stage of Peon Contreras Theater each week. The concerts have accessible prices so that all the citizens and visitors to Yucatan can enjoy classical music at its best. As is in all symphony concerts, the music elevates our spirits and soul to another level. It inspires the listener to dream, to learn, to feel the emotions brought forth in the music. It is a true treasure and gift and we should be truly grateful to all those who have put in so much effort to make sure the orchestra is here to stay.
History Timeline of the La Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán timeline:
- 1898-1922 José Cuevas Pachón, Yucatecan musician influenced by the concerts he heard at the Grand National Theater of Mexico City, formed an orchestra in Yucatan with some of the city’s best soloists. In September of 1898 they performed in the old Theater of Peon Contreras.
- 1906 Another orchestra was formed by Cuevas for a party that was being prepared for president and dictator Porfirio Diaz at La Hacienda Sodzil.
- June 22, 1922 an orchestra was formed by Amílcar Cetina Gutiérrez, concert given in one of the ballrooms at the Union Society Hall.
- 1925-1935 after nearly 30 years of isolated attempts to start and orchestra in Yucatan in 1925, Francisco Sánchez Rejón was able to bring together a group of musicians under the name of Orquesta Sinfónica de Mérida. They offered three seasons between the years of 1925-1935 with 34 concerts performing works by Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovski, Wagner, Dvořák and many others.
- 1936-1938 Birth of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán.
In 1935 violinist and ethnomusicologist from El Paso, Samuel Martí came to Yucatan to study indigenous music. When he got here he met many very talented musicians and with such enthusiasm for music he and his friends organized the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra and performed two seasons of three concerts each between 1936-1938.
- 1944-1950 in 1944 Daniel Ayala, Yucatecan violinist, conductor, and composer founded the Yucatecan Conservatory. His idea of what the role of the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra would be was very clear: He wanted to program consistent concerts with Yucatecan and European musicians and composers, invite directors, and soloists and make the orchestra a popular attraction. He organized 7 seasons between 1950 and many works by Yucatecan composers were performed including El Hombre Maya, U K’ayil Cháac (Maya song to the rain), Uchben Xcoholté (an old cemetery), Panoramas de México, and more.
- 1975-1982 After Ayala’s grand effort to promote the music in his motherland, there was a 25 year gap where there was no symphonic life in Yucatan. In 1975, Carlos Tello Solís, Yucatecan and musician with formal training and knowledge of popular music made a proposal to the state to start the orchestra again. On September 15th, 1975 the first concert was given in the Government Palace.
In this new time for the orchestra there were 113 concerts given including works by Mozart, Schubert and Vivaldi.
- 1984-2002 the institute of Culture and the University of Yucatan (la Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán) organized between 1987 y 2002 approximately 9 conciertos between Merida, Miami and Chichén Itzá.
- 2001 Sr. Adolfo Patrón Luján together with a group of local citizens committed to the arts, founded the Patronato para la Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán, a private group of patrons who support, raise money for and work closely with the orchestra. This group, legally established, made it their priority to ensure that the orchestra would be a permanent part of the cultural offering of Yucatan.
Adolfo Patrón Luján
Juan Carlos Lomonaco
- 2004 the debut of what we all know and love now at the Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán. The OSY was founded through a joint venture by the Yucatán State Government and the Patronato para la Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán, a private group of patrons who support, raise money for and work closely with the orchestra. Its main performing venue is the Peón Contreras theater in Mérida.
- 2009 Juan Carlos Lomonaco joined as Music Director and Conductor.
- 2014 Sra. Margarita Molina Zaldívar, wife of the late Adolfo Patrón Luján, assumed the Presidency of the Patronato and the project has continued.
- As of today there have been 35 concert seasons, 16 operas and one zarzuela.
Margarita Molina Zaldívar