Chamber Concerts Features Argentinian Tango Jan. 29

Chamber Music Series to Portray History of Tango in Free Concert Monday, Jan. 29

Thursday, January 18, 2018

SOCORRO, N.M. – The Argentine Tango is one of the most aesthetically beautiful ballroom dances, and what better way to showcase its classic rhythms than with Willy Sucre joining the QTango quartet at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 29, at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center.

“The History of Tango with Q Tango” is the third of four concerts in this season’s Presidential Chamber Music Series. Sponsored by Tech President Stephen Wells, with support from Socorro Springs, admission is free, and all are encouraged to attend, including families.


Willy Sucre and Friends -- with QTango -- will perform Argentinian tangos at Macey Center on Jan. 29.


Sucre on viola, will be joined by QTango members Olga Tikhovidova, violin; Natala Tikhovidova, piano; Jeremy Sment, bass and Erskine Maytorena, voice bandoneon.

They will perform Villoldo’s El Choclo, Bizet’s Habanera, Piana’s Milonga Triste, Torna a Surriento (vocal), Damas’ Nada, Plaza’s Nocturna, Gardel’s El Dia Que Me Quieras,  D’Arienzo’s La Cumparsita, Piazzola’s  Adios Nonino, Verano Porteño, Chiquilin de Bachin and Libertango.

But don’t confuse Argentine tango music from the dance form, said PAS Director Ronna Kalish.

“Argentine tango music is more varied and more complex than ballroom tango music,” Kalish said. “And, of course, the modern music to which dancers perform the Argentine Tango on competitions like Dancing with the Stars is not tango music at all.”

The Argentine tango is a musical genre and accompanying social dance originating at the end of the 19th century in the suburbs of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Uruguay.

In its early stages, the Argentine tango was primarily the dance music of the urban poor, those from working-class neighborhoods, the suburbios of southern South America, the upper classes deemed to be socially unacceptable.

According to “The Argentine Reader: History, Culture and Politics,” at dance academies and bordellos, young upper-class men joined the lower classes in appreciation of the music, while the dance’s sharply-tangled steps provided a source of release.

A typical tango orchestra features melodic instruments, including a small button accordion, called the bandoneon, which gave the melody a distinctive air.

The evening’s program is arranged to reflect the historical evolution of Argentine tango music as the tale unfolds on stage, beginning with composers born in the early to mid-1800s, and ending with a composer who died just 25 years ago.

Argentine musician Ángel Villoldo (1861-1919), considered one of the pioneers of the tango, was born south of the city of Buenos Aires. He was a lyricist, composer, and one of the popular singers of the era.

“His composition, ‘El Choclo,’ which opens the program, will probably sound familiar to many in the audience,” says Erskine Maytorena, leader of QTango. “Villoldo wrote it in 1903, and among the popular versions of the song is one by Julio Iglesias. One might think the song’s name translates as a form of a confection, but it actually means ‘corn cob.’”


QTango is Olga Tikhovidova, violin; Natala Tikhovidova, piano; Jeremy Sment, bass and Erskine Maytorena.


Sucre and QTango will perform six compositions by Georges Bizet (1838-1875) in tracing the history of the tango through music. The set includes a piano solo and a vocal selection. Bizet was a French composer of the romantic era. Best known for his operas before an early death, his final work, “Carmen,” is one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the opera repertoire.

(Some may recall the “Battle of the Carmens” at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary with Debi Thomas, U.S.A., and Katarina Witt, East Germany, both choosing the operatic melody for their ice skating long program competition; Witt ultimately won the gold, with bronze going to Thomas.)

Juan D’Arienzo (1900-1976) was an Argentine tango musician also known as “El Rey del Compás” (Rhythm King). According to one source, D’Arienzo was performing at the Chantecler when he introduced a piano to the orchestra, thereby returning to a two-four sequence, the recognized fast beat of the primitive tangos.                                                                                           

He was quoted as saying, “Tango, for me, has three things: beat, impact and nuances. An orchestra ought to have, above all, life. That is why mine lasted more than 50 years.”

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla (1921-1992) was an Argentine tango composer, bandoneon player and arranger. Piazzolla fused elements of the tango with a wide range of other Western musical elements, drawing from jazz and classical music. This successful amalgam revolutionized the traditional tango into a style called nuevo tango.

In 1992, American music critic Stephen Holden described Piazzolla as “the world’s foremost composer of tango music.” Of the many ensembles that Piazzolla set up during his career, it was the quintet formation which best expressed his approach to tango.

“For me, Argentine tango music is vibrant, expressive, and interesting to play and perform,” exudes Willy Sucre, who curates the Presidential Chamber Music Series.  “I scheduled QTango for the Placitas and Socorro concerts because I thought their music would be accessible and exciting for both audiences.”

Kalish adds that “QTango performed at a Tech Club Annual Meeting several years ago, with dancers, and was a big hit. Gaby Benalil, NMT Music Instructor, has also brought QTango to perform for her music students. They are a great group!”

Qtango has been performing traditional tango music of the early "Golden Age" of the great Argentine tango orchestras throughout the Southwest since 2009, with multiple tours every year covering over 33 states and many cities in Canada. Whether touring as a quartet or performing gala events with a 14-piece orchestra, every performance is sophisticated, engaging, nostalgic, moving and always performed for the benefit of social dancers in love with golden age tango.

Violist Sucre is a member of the New Mexico Philharmonic and the driving force behind the “Willy Sucre & Friends” concerts. A native of La Paz, Bolivia, Sucre’s experience includes chamber music concerts, lectures, school demonstrations, CD recordings and television performances. He enjoys performing with ensembles of diverse instrumentation.

Sucre spends most of his summers in South America looking for new works of chamber music by modern composers and encouraging composers to write new pieces, especially piano quartets. He also enjoys performing.