Arts & Humanities

Guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya on Jimmy López’s “Perú Negro”


On April 8, guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya will lead the Yale Philharmonia in a performance of music by Jimmy López, Prokofiev, and Brahms. We spoke with Mr. Harth-Bedoya about López’s Perú Negro and the experience musicians and audiences share through live performance.

Q: You commissioned Jimmy López’s Perú Negro. What would you like our students and the audience to know about the piece and the composer? 

 A: Perú Negro is the first orchestral piece that is inspired by Afro-Peruvian rhythms and is also the first orchestral work that includes three Peruvian cajones in the percussion sectionwhich required the composer to create a new notation for those instruments. I commissioned Jimmy López to create a unique single-movement work to celebrate the lively sounds and rhythms that the African cultures have contributed to Peruvian music, thus creating a unique fusion of music styles.

Q: What is your approach to working with student orchestras? And what do you want members of the Yale Philharmonia to learn from you and this program, which also includes Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto and Brahms’ Third Symphony?

 A: I work with all orchestras in the same way. Meaning: it is always about the music and the composer’s ideas. We conductors only channel the music to an audience through talented and inspired musicians. I would like the musicians to learn and experience how strong the power of music is regardless of musical styles or periods. As the German poet Heinrich Heine said, “When words leave off, music begins.” Our program has no words, and every listener can feel every work in the program in their own way. You cannot touch music, but music can touch you.

Q: How would you put into words the value and importance—to you, to the musicians with whom you work, and to concertgoers—of our collective return to live performance?

A: Orchestras are communities in themselves and so are audiences. When you combine the two the power of gathering becomes greater, and both communities enrich each other. When live music takes place, it brings musicians and listeners to another level, where if connected to each other, everything that takes place during our daily lives, such as work, studies, domestic duties, etc., can disappear and be put aside temporarily. After a great performance, both the orchestra and the audience should feel energized and uplifted.

Guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya leads the Yale Philharmonia in a performance of Jimmy López’s Perú Negro, Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto, with soloist and YSM pianist Yi-Chen Feng ’21MM ’22AD, and Brahms’ Third Symphony on Friday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m., in Woolsey Hall. Learn more and reserve seats here

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