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Classical Californians: Sonia Marie De León de Vega

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R. Vega Photography

This week’s Classical Californian is conductor Sonia Marie De León de Vega, who founded the Santa Cecilia Orchestra more than 30 years ago in L.A. She named it in honor of her father, who was a guitarist and singer, and regularly prayed to the patron saint of music. In addition to their concerts, the orchestra is also committed to an educational outreach program meant to introduce young people to the world of classical music. The selections she’s chosen show her love of music for piano, full orchestra, and the operatic stage. We’ll hear selections from some of her favorite performers and composers, including an arrangement of music by Astor Piazzolla that inspired her to track down and get the unpublished score.

Her first selection is a solo piano etude, “Aeolian Harp” by Chopin, as played by Vladimir Horowitz – press the play button to hear her introduction!

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Chopin: Etude Op. 25 No. 1 "Aeolian Harp"

And the piece that she heard on KUSC as a child that made her ask her piano teacher to teach her Beethoven! The second movement of his Symphony No. 7.

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Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, Mvt. 2 "Allegretto"

Then it’s off to the opera, with her favorite aria from Puccini’s La Boheme, “O Soave Fanciulla”…

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Giacomo Puccini: La Bohème, "O soave fanciulla"

For a concentrated minute of brilliance, here’s Glenn Gould (who she corresponded with when she was a student) playing one of Bach’s Goldberg Variations (#18, from the recording that he made toward the end of his life)

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J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations, Variation 18 (Glenn Gould)

An arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s take on the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires led De León de Vega on a search for sheet music that didn’t exist yet…

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Astor Piazzolla: Primavera Portena

Next, it’s a movement of a concerto for harp called Máscaras by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez…

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Arturo Márquez: La Pasión Según San Juan de Letrán

And to end – a movement from the Third Symphony of her favorite composer, Johannes Brahms.

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Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 3, Mvt. III

Some closing thoughts…

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Published on 01.08.2024