Most of the
time our "Basqueness" is compartmentalized; i.e., it comes
out of the box during a Basque festival or event but
otherwise we go about our "regular" lives doing non-Basque
things of going to work, school, recreation and
entertainment. There was a recent impressive
cross-over, however, when the Basque Country's José Luis
Egiluz conducted the Boise Philharmonic in an impressive
program of Spanish and Basque music at the Morrison Center
that was a pleasure to watch and received several standing
SOURCE. This story
originally appeared online at
and is reproduced here in case it is re/moved. Related
links are at
By Igor Lansorena
"It was a pleasure and an
unexpected gift to enjoy these Iberian sounds in the desert
of the Rocky Mountains, 8,500 kilometers away from where the
music was created," said Alberto Santana, director of Boise
State University's Basque Studies program, when asked about
"Iberia", two concerts from the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra
directed by Basque conductor José Luis Egiluz on April 17th
and 18th in the Morrison Center in Boise, United States.
For Jose Luis, it was also a
very special occasion. Twenty years have passed since, as an
outcome of an agreement made between the Basque Government
and the Basque community of Boise, the conductor spent three
weeks in the Idaho capital helping to set up the Biozetik
Basque choir. Jose Luis was struck then by the intense way
in which the Basques of Boise keep their culture and
traditions alive. He met his wife here and since then has
been a regular visitor to this remote but beautiful city
Although Jose Luis had contact
with some of the musicians of Boise's Philharmonic Orchestra
during the 1995 Basque festival, this occasion was the first
time in which he would conduct the whole orchestra, a
prospect he was really excited about: "To conduct outside of
your own country is important, motivating, but to conduct in
Boise, that is special," Maestro Egiluz says.
Oftentimes our Basque events are compartmentalized,
but sometimes we take "Basqueness" out of the box
into new venues, as was the case when Jose Luis
Egiluz conducted the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra in
a special program at the Morrison Center.
Although Jose Luis had contact with some of the
musicians of Boise's Philharmonic Orchestra during
the 1995 Basque festival, this occasion was the
first time in which he would conduct the whole
orchestra, a prospect he was really excited about:
"To conduct outside of your own country is
important, motivating, but to conduct in Boise, that
is special," Maestro Egiluz says.
Boise's Morrison Center >
"I am very excited, I can't
wait; it is a great responsibility as, in some ways, I am a
kind of Basque ambassador here," said Jose Luis in an
exclusive interview to
eitb.com the week before the concerts. During the
interview, he took the opportunity to thank his wife as well
as Mary Lou Gerrikabeitia and Al Erquiaga, two prominent
people in the Basque community of Boise, for helping him to
make the concert possible.
The program, under the name of
Iberia! Music from Spain and the Basque Country,
was carefully chosen by José Luis and accepted by the
The concert opened with works
by Basque composers Arriaga, "Overture to Los Esclavos
Felices" and "Ten Basque Melodies" and Guridi, a composer of
whose music José Luis has always been very partial.
Subsequently it was turn of
Jason Vieaux, an American virtuoso guitarist and visiting
artist, who played Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez", never
before played in Boise, and "Capricho Arabe", by popular
The concerts ended with
Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol" and Manuel de Falla's
"Suite" from "The Three Cornered Hat".
The Idaho Statesman by Dana Oland
of planning, and some good timing, put Egiluz on the
podium for an action-packed concert of music about,
by and inspired by Spain and the Basque Country.
Egiluz’s connection to the area Basque community
brought a new audience to the performance, including
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, to make for a kind of
“hometown” audience. But don’t think they cut
him any slack or that Egiluz needed or expected any.
The work he achieved with the musicians got to the
heart of the music and was in a word:
Jose Luis Egiluz is
married to Idaho Basque Michelle Azola. They
have two children, Ander & Ane.
The result was what
everybody expected, an amazing gift and a great decision by
the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra to count on Jose Luis for
these two concerts.
"Many of our friends and season
ticket holders mentioned how much they appreciated Jose
Luis's refinement and they hope the orchestra will invite
him to conduct again and again, " says Joyce Davis, a long
term subscriber who attends all the local concerts.
"The concert was a marvel and
Jose Luis's style is what we had both hoped we would find in
a new Philharmonic artistic director. I loved the program -
the mix of regional sounds along with the more familiar
Rimsky-Korsakov and de Falla. We had a perfect evening,"
For Janet Morris, who has
enjoyed the Boise Philharmonic for the past 15 years, the
performance was one of best she has experienced. "I am still
savouring it: Basque music and the voice of the instruments
brought to life by Jose Luis; this evening was an amazing
gift," she says.
"Jose Luis brings such grace
and commands a mesmerizing presence with both the orchestra
and audience... "wow" ... "wow" ... was my simple and
consistently jaw-dropping thought throughout the
performance," Janet adds, who says that she would like Jose
Luis to conduct the Philharmonic again.
Patty Miller, director of the
Basque Museum of Boise, was also there. "There was a great
energy and enthusiasm in the audience this evening. Many
individuals who might not regularly attend the Philharmonic
performances, especially from the Basque community, were in
the audience and I think that Jose Luis knew that he had
many friends and supporters out there for him. The concert
was absolutely wonderful," Patty says.
"A marathon of delicious
sensations, excellent thanks to the selection of the
programs, the performance and the audience's response,"
added Alberto Santana.
Interior of the Morrison
Center (Boise, ID)