All-American means more than just apple pie. And all-American music -- at the 15th Inter-American Music Festival -- means music and compositions from a dozen countries throughout North, South and Central America.
The Inter-American Music Festival will present 12 free concerts during April and May in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Pan American Union building. Appropriately, all but one concert will be held at the Organization of American States Hall of the Americas at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Bernard Burt, development chairman on the festival's board of directors, says the festival is not an annual event, but was "inspired by the fact that the hall is celebrating its 75th birthday."
The festival was founded in 1958 by Harold Boxer, general director of the Inter-American Music and Arts Festival Foundation, and Guillermo Espinosa, musical director emeritus. It began, explains Burt, "as a showcase for Latin American composers, to bring them together with North American composers. Boxer balances the programs to provide variety and to represent the most important composers in the area."
The programs include both popular and classical music. "It's a great big mixture, a bouquet to pick and choose from," Burt says. "We try to appeal to all interests. This year we are focusing on the more intimate forms. We don't like to say 'chamber music' because it turns people off."
Kicking off the concert series tomorrow will be the Ensemble Bartok, a chamber music group from Chile. The final concert, on May 15, will feature the Commonwealth Brass Quintet from the United States.
The Inter-American Music Festivals have been very successful, Burt says. "Thanks to these festivals, the composers are getting closer together. There is much greater acceptance of modern Latin composers now. They have a very loyal audience in D.C."