Two musicians of divergent piety are ready for their final judgment. St. Peter peruses his roster and says to the first, “Here my friend is your harp; welcome to heaven.” Collaring the other player he changes his tone. “I’ve been watching you. Here’s your accordion; welcome to hell.”
Old as it is, the joke still travels, especially among inclined toward the refined ambiance of concert halls, drawing rooms and opera houses than folksier venues where the accordion still holds sway.
Invented in Berlin during the 1800s and universally beloved as the bandoneón in the Southern Hemisphere, the instrument will be in the spotlight during this year’s Laguna Beach Music Festival themed Tango Argentina/Sounds of South America, Feb. 5-10.
It’s hard to imagine tango dancers without accompanying strains of piano, guitar, bass, violin and bandoneón in the lead. Unabashedly sexy, tango became the dance craze in metropolises from Buenos Aires to Paris. Here, Pablo Ziegler’s Classical Tango Quartet might tempt concert attendees to try a few steps in the isles of the Laguna Playhouse on Fri. Feb. 8.
“Pablo Ziegler has been an artist I’ve wanted to work with for a long time but early on we also realized that we could not only listen to tango throughout the entire festival,” said festival director Sandy Robertson. “We needed to look at different traditions of South American music, sounds that move between the streets and the concert hall.”
Buenos Aires-born Ziegler has played with the iconic Astor Piazzolla New Tango Quintet and last year won an Echo Classical Award (the European Grammy) for his innovative blends of tango, jazz improvisations, Latin American folk music and Western classical music.
Joining his performance on Feb. 8 will be bandoneón virtuoso Hector del Curto, double-bassist Pedro Giraudo and cellist Jisoo Ok.
Another change entails the absence of the artist decorated violins up for sale in previous years. Art buyers can still get a taste of Latin art in town at Salt Fine Art, this month featuring Cuban artist Esterio Segura. “I am excited to see more Latin American culture represented in Laguna Beach. The festival will open people’s eyes and ears on how interconnected we have become through the arts. I’ve never danced the tango, so it’s time I tried,” said El Salvador-born gallerist Carla Tesak.
Regina Carter, credited with reviving jazz violin, will close the festival together with Ziegler’s quartet. Carter, a recipient of the MacArthur Fellow “genius award,” was invited to Genoa to play the famed 260-year-old violin of Italian composer Niccolo Paganini. Her repertoire includes world music, jazz, Motown and her African-inspired “Reverse Thread.”
The Calidore Quartet performed at last year’s music festival to acclaim. Having returned from their first European tour, the musicians from the Colburn School look forward to their collaboration with Ziegler since it is their first foray into Latin American music, said Calidore cellist Estelle Choi. “Playing in Laguna last year was such an enriching experience since sharing beautiful music with a supportive community and such ardent music lovers is a real treat,” she said.
On the program are works such as Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Bachinas Brasileiras No. 5,” featuring soprano Hae Ji Chang.
International ensemble Huayucaltia, comprised of musicians from Columbia, Peru, Argentina, Mexico and the U.S. will play a melange of Andean, Afro-Peruvian, rock, classical music and South American nueva canción (new song/poetry) at the Laguna Art Museum. It’s among the fest’s free concerts. (See sidebar)
Samba, rhumba, reggae, gypsy, street tunes. Todo Mundo aims to represent, as its name implies, the whole world. Based in San Diego, the high-energy quintet will perform at the Feb. 7 festival opening party held at the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach. Here it’s guaranteed that no one will sit still and there will be a food truck with Argentine treats as well as a bar to maintain energy and keep spirits high. www.todomundomusic.com
Feb. 5: Opening Night Party with Todo Mundo, 7 p.m., Woman’s Club, 286 St. Ann’s Dr. Tickets: $45 (cash bar, food)
Feb. 8: Festival Feast, 5 p.m., Hotel Laguna, 425 S. Coast Hwy. $200 (champagne reception, dinner, prime concert seats, post-concert reception with artists)
Feb. 8: Pablo Ziegler Classical Tango Quartet, 8 p.m.
Feb. 9: Calidore Quartet, 8 p.m.
Feb. 10: Pablo Ziegler Classical Tango Quartet with violinist Regina Carter, 3 p.m.
All performances at Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd. Tickets: $35/40,
Tickets: www.philharmonicsociety.org 949-553-2422
Also: Laguna Playhouse box office, 949-497-2787
Feb. 3: Bossa Zuzu, 3 p.m. Laguna College of Art and Design, 2222 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Feb. 6: Huayucaltia, 7 p.m. Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Dr.
Feb. 7: Calidore Quartet, noon. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Feb. 7: Pablo Ziegler & Hector del Curto, 7 p.m. Sage Hill School, 20402 Newport Coast Dr.
Feb. 8: Hector del Curto & Jisoo Ok, 10 a.m. Susi Q Senior Center, 380 3rd St.
Feb. 9: Open rehearsal Pablo Ziegler & Calidore Quartet, 11 a.m. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Tickets: www.philharmonicsociety.org 949-553-2422
Info: www.lagunabeachmusicfestival.com 949-715-9713