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 North American Basque Organizations
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"Because they were, we are, and because we are they will be"
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Jose Luis Egiluz

IBERIA CONCERT:  Basqueness out of the box

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 ovations.

SOURCE.  This story originally appeared online at www.eitb.com and is reproduced here in case it is re/moved.  Related links are at www.euskalkultura.com/euskaraz & www.euskalkultura.com/spanish and www.idahostatesman.com

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 every summer.

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 Philharmonic Orchestra.

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 request.

The concerts ended with Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol" and Manuel de Falla's "Suite" from "The Three Cornered Hat".

Excerpt from The Idaho Statesman by Dana Oland (4/19/2009):

"Three years 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: extraordinary."  

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Jose Luis Egiluz is married to Idaho Basque Michelle Azola.  They have two children, Ander & Ane.

Amazing gift.  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," Joyce adds.

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)
 

 

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