Culture / Yucatan Orchestra Season Begins

Yucatan Orchestra Season Begins

Yucatan Orchestra Season Begins

23 September 2008 Culture 7

As the Symphony season begins for the fifth year, we wrote to our friend Elizabeth Arnott, a violinist in the orchetra, to ask how things were going, and why it appeared that there were four guest conductors this season. Elizabeth was loathe to be quoted off the record, but instead sent us this officially approved missive which outlines what is going on with the Symphony this year. From what we can tell, the Symphony, like every other department and organization in the state government, has gone through some turbulent and political times since the new governor was sworn in over a year ago. They now seem to be interviewing conductors from across Mexico to find one who will take them to the next level.

Here is Elizabeth's explanation of the current state of Yucatan's Symphony Orchestra:


Five years ago, the local government went against the general trend in other parts of the world, where most orchestras were downsizing, and decided to form the Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán.  The OSY is based in the beautiful opera house Teatro Peon Contreras, Mérida, Yucatán, where it plays a variety of programmes, from Bach to pop, through classical western, mexican and latin american repertoire.

From extremely small beginnings, a tiny string section, one oboe, one flute, two french horns, one bassoon, it has now grown in size and stature to a full sized symphony orchestra of around 60 musicians coming from some 14 different countries, East and West Europe, Japan, North and South America, even Australia and New Zealand, to join the original core of Yucatecan string players.

It is not an easy task to create a symphony orchestra.  Over four years, a young musical director from Colombia - Juan Felipe Molano - worked with the musicians, who were gradually overcoming their birth pangs and growing pains. Now it is no longer a training orchestra, but in the exciting position of being ready to be taken to higher levels - national or even international - by a new music director.  This season, September - December 2008, we welcome four guest conductors who are highly qualified and have the experience to take the project to its next inevitable stage.  Enrique Barrios, Juan Carlos Lomónaco,  Pablo Varela, and David Hernández Bretón.  These four Mexican conductors are each to prepare two contrasting programmes, with one week of rehearsal time per programme. By the end of December, the musicians and the orchestral administration, including the Instituto de Cultura de Yucatán and the Patronato (Merida´s elite society of music patrons) will  have had time to decide which one they feel would be best suited for our orchestra at this stage in its development, to take us forward - onward and upward.  Also, these guest conductors will have had time to decide whether they want the challenge!

The general feeling among the musicians is that we have worked hard to reach this stage, and are very excited at the prospect of being able to perform with a new General Music Director who has the experience and expertise to take us to the level which we deserve. During these past two weeks with the first guest conductor Henrique Barrios, many felt that the orchestra played like it has never sounded before. The first concert was a programme of Mexican and Yucatecan  music, and in the second the programme included a Beethoven and Stravinsky´s The Firebird Suite. The concerts were so exciting, both audience and musicians thrilled to the explosion of energy, tight ensemble and well balanced sonorities which Enrique Barrios elicited from the musicians.  We are waiting with eager anticipation to see what will happen with the next guest conductors.


Sounds like it is going to be an exciting season to us! Lots of talent and input from different people is sure to make for an interesting series of musical events. And remember, if you can't drag yourself down to the Centro on a Friday night or midday on Sunday, you can always tune into 103.5 FM (Radio Universidad) at those times and listen to the Symphony play LIVE on the radio. We are so fortunate to have a symphony orchestra here in Merida... let's be sure to support them!



  • Kaye 9 years ago

    Hello, I am going to ask again on this site if there is any opportunity for amateur musicians to play in ensembles in Merida? I'm looking to retire in October and have been researching places in Mexico. Here in Vancouver, BC and formerly in Victoria, I enjoyed playing with a community orchestra as a (very) amateur violist. Are there similar opportunities in Merida - with smaller or larger amateur groups?
    If there is a music conservatory in Merida there probably is hope of finding adult playing opportunities. Certainly happy to hear about the Symphony!!
    Any info/e-mail addresses (I can communicate in Spanish) would be most appreciated!

  • Working Gringos 9 years ago

    The Symphony has approximately 2 performances programs each month. Each is performed on a Friday at 9:00 PM and a Sunday at 12:00 PM. The performances are listed on our events page at least one week in advance.

  • Yucajohn 9 years ago

    For those who cannot be in Merida, go to:
    XERUY 103.9 FM / 1170 AM . You will need Windows Media Player to listen.


  • jim fain 9 years ago

    It would have been nice if this article listed the program schedule and other details of the performances. What time Friday and Saturday?

  • drew p 9 years ago

    glad to have the OSY back. we enjoy when members of the orchestra, particularly my russian and spanish friends, make time to stop in the lounge for a refreshment. members of the orchestra always get the treatment at mercer lounge.

    drew p

  • carol 9 years ago

    Went to see the symphony last January- fantastic! What a wonderful group of musicians and for such a reasonable price- $8.00 each. If you visit Merida, go see the symphony- top rate!

  • Carol Judd 9 years ago

    We visited and saw a performance at the theater and loved it. We can't wait to take advantage of the orchestra when we are lucky enough to live in Merida. I studied music for many years and it was such an important part of my life. We need to support the arts and we need to continue to educate our children and give them the opportunity to experience music. With the price of tickets there's no reason not to attend a concert. And there's no language barrier. What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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