Valley of the Moon Music Festival, which aims to highlight the masters of Latin American music
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Valley of the Moon Music Festival, which aims to highlight the masters of Latin American music

This summer, a diverse array of Latin American virtuosos will shine at the annual Valley of the Moon Music Festival in Sonoma.

In its 10th year, the two-week chamber music festival has chosen Latin American compositions from the 19th and 20th centuries as its theme. The celebration will include a series of performances in July at various venues, including outdoor events taking place against the backdrop of the wine region’s landscape.

“We are committed to historically accurate chamber music performance,” said event promoter Grace Parisi. “What sets us apart is that we use instruments that are authentic reproductions of the Classical and Romantic periods.”

This year, the emphasis was on highlighting classical and romantic Latin American musicians who are little known and rarely performed in the United States.

“Most of the composers we usually present are European,” Parisi said. “This year, the goal is to promote composers who are rarely heard on North American stages. For example, Teresa Carreño from Venezuela was a prolific composer and played for two U.S. presidents.”

Carreño, a Venezuelan pianist, performed at the White House for President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and for Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Her music will be performed July 14 at the Hanna Boys Center.

The masterful craftsmanship of Silvestre Revueltas, a seminal figure of 20th-century Mexican composer and brother of writer José Revueltas, will be presented on July 18 on the patio of the La Luz Center.

“We have a lot of composers,” she said.

The festival’s repertoire includes works by, among others, José White from Cuba, Alberto Ginastera from Argentina and Pedro Ximénez Abril Tirado from Peru.

“We’re including some North American musicians,” she said. “It’s amazing to hear their music played on period instruments.”

Period instruments feature traditional-style sheep gut strings, ensuring that classical pieces sound authentic as they were originally intended.

“When you attend our concerts, you experience music composed by Beethoven, for example,” she said. “We use pianos made entirely of wood. As opposed to modern pianos, which have metal frames.”

Students and winners

The Valley of the Moon Festival, a nonprofit organization that promotes historical performances, relies on 95 percent of its funding from private donors, Parisi said, with additional support coming from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and Creative Sonoma.

Founded and directed by musicians Tanya Tomkins and Eric Zivian, the festival offers a unique opportunity for aspiring musicians through scholarships. These interns and winners are selected to participate in a summer internship where they receive mentoring designed to foster artistic excellence and development, much to the delight of the festival audience.

The festival features performances by renowned maestros such as violinist Rachel Ellen Wong and Cuban pianist Adonis González.

Tickets for the two-week festival range from $25 to $55. Admission is free for students with valid student ID and one adult guardian per minor.

Contact La Prensa Sonoma Editor Raquel Issenberg at [email protected]