La Fiesta Mexicana (1954)
H. OWEN REED
This work is subtitled “A Mexican Folk Song Symphony for Concert Band,” and it was written after Reed had spent a year in Mexico studying folk music and composing on a Guggenheim Fellowship. The entire work depicts a religious festival dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and it faithfully represents all of the contrasts and
contradictions of these festivals. It is both serious and comical, festive and solemn, devout and pagan, boisterous and tender.
The first movement is a prelude and Aztec dance opening with the traditional pealing of the church bells and the noise of fireworks announcing the beginning of the fiesta. The main part of the movement represents a midday parade (announced by the trumpets) featuring a group of brilliantly plumed and masked Aztec dancers who dance with increasing frenzy to a dramatic climax.
The second movement, titled Mass, is of a serious liturgical nature. The principal theme is chant-like and it is set amid coloristic sections representing the tolling of church bells.
The last movement, titled Carnival, is given over to unceasing entertainment and celebration. At the beginning of the movement we hear the itinerant circus, then the market, the bull fight, the town band, and finally the “cantinas” with their band of “mariachis.”
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