Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra resident conductor Andres Franco recently has added a new instrument to his skill set.
“I guess you could call me a virtuoso laptop player,” he said with a laugh..
Franco is honing his digital dexterity in anticipation of “Caminos del Inka: The Hidden Music,” a special one-night-only concert to be presented by the symphony Saturday at Bass Hall.
“It is a multimedia concert,” Franco said. “Nearly every piece will be accompanied by video.”
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So while music director Miguel Harth-Bedoya is conducting the orchestra in the evening’s program of music by predominantly South American composers, Franco will be at the back of the hall, manipulating the visual elements in time with the music.
“I will be playing there at the computer like crazy,” said Franco. “And, actually, you have to practice for it. I take my computer out about a month before and practice, even though I have conducted all of this music and know it very well.”
Franco described the concert as “the flagship program” of the sprawling Caminos del Inka project — a continuing exploration of new and old music designed to “rediscover, preserve, expand and disseminate the cultural legacy of the Americas.”
Over the past several seasons, the symphony has performed works found by the project. But Franco said this particular program, which has been performed in Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle and a couple of European stops (among others), has never been presented in Fort Worth.
“Miguel was the brains behind the whole project in terms of choosing the music and deciding to do it with multimedia,” said Franco, who serves as principal conductor of the Caminos del Inka project.
The project and concert Saturday focus on the music of the Incan Trail, a mighty swath of geography that includes Peru (the center of the Incan empire and Harth-Bedoya’s nation of birth), Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina. In some cases, the connections of the composers included are very direct (such as Coleccion de musica virreinal I, a work by 18th-century Spanish cleric Martinez y Compañon, who served as a bishop in Peru). In others, the links are a bit more liberal ( Illapa: Tone Poem for Flute and Orchestra is by one-time FWSO composer-in-residence Gabriela Frank, an American with Chinese-Peruvian heritage on her mother’s side).
The program also includes Mariel, a work for cello and orchestra by another contemporary composer who is familiar to symphony regulars — Argentinian Osvaldo Golijov.
“It is very lyrical, atmospheric and beautiful,” Franco said. “The whole program is very audience-friendly.”
Guest soloists for the concert are cellist Jesus Castro-Balbi, who is featured in the Golijov work, and flutist Jessica Warren-Acosta, who is in the spotlight for the Frank piece.
Franco said he feels that the program — with its music spread broadly across space and time, and its copious use of visual components — should appeal to a broad spectrum of music lovers.
“Some of the pieces are rooted in popular and folk sources,” said Franco, a native of Colombia. “So it should appeal to regular symphony patrons as well as newcomers to the concert hall. It offers something for everybody.”