Symphonic Orchestra of Guanajuato, Enrique Batiz, Mexico, 2006

Tour Dates: 2006

Enrique Batiz - Chief Conductor

Ahmed Abou-Zahra - Piano Soloist   The Symphonic Orchestra of Guanajuato 

Located in the geographical heartland of the Republic of Mexico, the State of Guanajuato has a long tradition of culture. In the music field, this land has been prodigal as the birthplace of innumerable composers who are appreciated in both the fields of serious and popular music. Among the most outstanding exponents we can find Juventino Rosas, Salvador Contreras, Joaquín Pardavé, María Greever, José Alfredo Jiménez as well as Ramón Montes de Oca.

The enthusiasm of the inhabitants of Guanajuato for music gave rise to the founding of several musical organizations in the mid 19th century and in fact, formal music education has existed in Guanajuato for almost 130 years, when in 1877 Antonio Zuñiga incorporated music classes into the State College. In the bosom of the State College, one of the first conservatories of music in Mexico would be born.

Previous to the function of the above-named Conservatory, a Guanajuato Philharmonic Society had existed, albeit only for two years, 1915-1917. In about 1943, the city of León instituted a School of Sacred Music that would later be the foundation for the School of Music begun by the state governor José Aguilar y Maya in the mid-twentieth century under the auspices of the University of Guanajuato.

Almost simultaneously to the creation of the School of Music, on the 25th of April 1952, the University of Guanajuato became the first university in Mexico to have a permanent professional symphony orchestra. At that time, the orchestra was constituted by forty musicians from the area, lead by the maestro José Rodríguez Fraustro.

After 34 years as the conductor of the Symphonic Orchestra of Guanajuato (OSUG), Maestro Rodríguez Fraustro was succeeded by the maestros Mario Rodríguez Taboada (1986-1992), Héctor Quintanar (1992-1996) and finally José Luis Castillo (1997-2005), who were the artificers and persons responsible for the prestige and artistic development of the Orchestra.

Since its founding such important conductors and soloists as Eduardo Mata, Enrique Bátiz, Enrique Diemecke, Kurt Pahlen, Kurt Redel, Leif Segerstam, Neeme Jarvi, Pascal Verrot, Guido Maria Guida, John DeMain, Jorge Federico Osorio, Claude Helffer, Homero Franesch, Cyprien Katsaris, Katia and Marielle Labéque, Bernard Flavigny, the Altenberg Trio, Christian Lindberg, Gerhart Muench, Jorge Risi, Phillipe Pelletier, Fernando de la Mora, Encarnación Vazquez, Ramón Vargas, Verónica Villaroel and Dimitri Hvorostovsky have collaborated with the OSUG in its concert seasons.

The suppleness and mastery with which the OSUG approaches the most diverse types of repertoire and musical challenges along with its commitment to the diffusion of the Mexican repertoire have led to a constant demand for the Orchestra in the principal concert halls and festivals of the country, as well as its function as the resident orchestra of the International Cervantino Festival.

As in all important orchestras, within the OSUG such groups as the Woodwind Quintet, the Brass Quintet, the Percussion Ensemble, a Classical Quartet, and the Camerata have flourished, thus contributing to the diffusion of music for these types of ensembles, as well as making a contribution to the excellence of the musicians in them and not lastly, to the creation of public for this type of performance.

With a view to consolidating an ensemble capable of recreating the fundamental works of the symphonic repertoire with irreproachable stylistic surety, the orchestra embarked, with renewed vigor, into a new phase with the naming in August of 2005 of Enrique Bátiz Campbell as Invited Music Director and Musical Assessor of the OSUG.   This artist, recognized internationally for his unbreakable discipline and professional excellence, has incalculated these same virtues in the OSUG in record time, making a tangible and effective impact on the development of the Orchestra.

Enrique Batiz, Chief Conductor 

Conducting Filarminia Veneta tonight is Enrique Batiz, one of the most famous orchestra conductors in Latin America. Originally – gifted pianist with his first public performance at the age of 5, Maestro Batiz is founder and conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of the State of Mexico (1971). He has won international popularity and fame as he has conducted over 500 symphony orchestras around the world.

His work is represented with a collection of 145 recordings of which 4l are with the Royal Philharmonic, 9 with the London Symphony, 3 with the Philharmonia, 12 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, 2 with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, 19 with the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra 58 with the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra and 1 with the Toscana Orchestra in Florence, Italy, for the British record companies EMI Records International, Academy of Sound and Vision, Musical Heritage (USA), NAXOS, IMG International Management Group, Pickwick, RPO Records and Arts (German company).

Throughout his career, he has received important distinctions and awards:  La primera Presea Bienal in Art from the State of Mexico Confederation of Professionals:  “The International Gold Mercury” award of Rome, given for the first time to a Latin American artist;  The Jose Marti and the Tlatelolco’s Eagle Medal. In 1984 he won First Prize at the British Music Trades Association for his interpretation of French Music with the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra (Debussy “Prelude of the afternoon of a Faun”); the 1986 “Rio Branco” medal, an official grade given by the Brazilian government for the worldwide digital recording of the nine “Bachianas Brasileiras” by Heitor Villa-Lobos; in four occasions (1971, 1981, 1983, and 1996) the annual prize as the most distinguished artist of the year from the Mexican Union of Teatrical and Musical broadcasters; his recording of the 3rd Symphony of Saint-Saens made in 1984 which was considered by the magazines “Gramophone” and the “Pengüin Stereo Records Guide” as the best recorded version of this piece.  In 1986 The London Sunday Times considered his recording of Petrushka by Stravinsky as the recording of the year. 

In 1991 he received the Mexican “Mozart” medal given by the Domecq Cultural Institute in December of 1992, the London CD review magazine designated the recordinghe made with the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of the “Symphonic Dances” and “The Isle of Death” by Rachmaninoff as one of the best recordings made in 1992.  In March of 1995, he won the “Estado de Mexico” Prize, in 1994 in the area of arts “Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz”, for his contribution to the musical culture of the State of Mexico and recognition he has achieved in musical world.  This is recognized throughout the country and the whole world, therefore, he has been declared “Mexiquense Destacado.”

The repertory of Enrique Batiz as a conductor ranges from classical to contemporary works.  He has been described as an artist who conducts with behemence and enthusiasm, manifesting a deep understanding, unusual even among the finest conductors.

Ahmed Abou-Zahra, Pianist

Egyptian Pianist Ahmed Abou-Zahra was born in Cairo .He took up the piano relatively late, at the age of 18 he studied with Marcelle Matta at the Cairo Conservatory.His main teachers were James Avery at the Freiburg School of Music, Ferenc Rados and András Schiff . He worked with the later two in numerous master classes and privately.

In 1996 Ahmed was granted a DAAD Scholarship to study for his Konzertexam at the Heidelberg-Mannheim Music School with Barbara Fry where he continued his piano chamber music studies with Paul Dan.Master classes with György Sandor, Paul Badura-Skoda, Dimitry Bashkirov and György Kurtág .

Since 1993 Ahmed has been regularly invited to play with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra and he also played with many different European, Asian  and American orchestras like the Vienna Symphony, Baden-Baden Philharmonic, The New World Symphony, the European Mozart Academy Symphony Orchestra, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, Neue Philharmonie Westfalen, Magdeburg Philharmonic, Heidelberg Philharmonic Orchestra, Mexico State Symphony Orchestra, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra China  and the Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester

His concert activity as a soloist and chamber music partner took him to many European, Asian and North American countries (Musikhalle-Hamburg, Congress Hall-Budapest, Congress Hall-Davos Switzerland, National Gallery-Ottawa, Casals Hall- Tokyo, Lincoln Theatre-Miami and The main Hall Cairo Opera House).

In 1997 Mr.Abou-Zahra was invited to the Banff Centre for The Arts (Canada) as an artist in residence,  in Banff he found (THE HORUS PIANO DUO) with the Hungarian pianist Nóra Emödy They won together many international competitions  such as The Murray Dranoff International two piano competition (USA-1999), Palermo international fourhands competition, Pavia international chamber music competition (Italy-2000), The Ibla Grand Prize, Caltanissetta International  Two  Piano  Competition - Dec 2000 in Italy,  International W.Jacobi New Music Competition Munich -Nov 2001, Max Reger Preiz (Germany-2002) and Zinetti International Chamber Music Competition (Italy 2003).

The duo has toured in Germany, USA, Italy, Austria, Hungary, England, Egypt, Belgium, Switzerland and Slovinia.

1999 the Horus Duo released their first CD which called Variations for Two, many of their concerts were live broadcasted on the south German Radio (SWR), Bavarian Radio (BR), BBC, Canadian Radio (CBC) and the Egyptian Radio and Television.

Ahmed is regulary invited to perform at The Banff Summer Piano Festival (Canada), Heidelberg Spring Music Festival (Germany), Szeged Chamber Music Festival (Hungary), Cairo Opera House (Egypt) The International Piano Duo Festival (Bad-Herrenalb) Germany.