Mexico’s music scene is more than Mariachis. The country is home to a rich array of classical music organizations comprised of orchestras and chamber music ensembles.
One such chamber music organization caught my attention when several of my classically trained professional musician friends posted on Facebook about upcoming chamber music concerts featuring works by the likes of Schumann, Stravinsky, Debussy, Bruch, Chopin and more, hosted by a group known as Pro Musica located in a place I hadn’t heard of before, San Miguel de Allende. A Google search of the town and organization whetted my appetite to learn more.
I reached out to Pro Musica through their website and was pleased to receive a reply from their General Manager Jenny Romo who graciously offered her time in creating this wonderful blog interview.
Without further ado, I’m pleased to introduce you to Pro Musica’s general manager, Ms. Jenny Romo, and share their story with you.
LRW: May I ask, who founded Pro Musica? What is the story behind it? At the time, what was their vision or inspiration to create this organization?
JR: Pro Musica, officially known as San Miguel el Grande Pro Musica A.C., was founded in 2001 by a group of Americans and Mexicans here in San Miguel de Allende. The idea for the organization originally came from Russel Archibald, who was our true founder. He knew of a few struggling chamber musicians here in San Miguel and decided to organize classical music concerts as a way to fundraise for these musicians. Pro Musica season consisted of only three or four concerts a year when it first started. Russ recently passed away, peacefully at the age of 96.
LRW: What a wonderful story. I’m touched by your founder’s dedication to chamber music and his support of local classical musicians. I’m sorry to learn of his passing. He will no doubt be missed but not forgotten. Speaking of musicians, may I ask how does ProMusica source its list of stellar musicians? Do musicians contact you or vice versa?
JR: Our President Michael Pearl reaches out to many musicians that he wants to come to perform with us. I serve as General Manager, overseeing the events and the work associated with them.
After 15 years of growing our reputation as the largest chamber music concert organization in Latin America, we have musicians and agents contacting us all the time, letting us know of their interest in playing in San Miguel. The concert photos are courtesy of photographer Barry Weiss. You are welcome to enjoy viewing more photos of last season’s concerts on this link.
LRW: Thank you for these photos and link. Your concerts look fantastic and well attended. That’s very exciting to hear. May your organization continue to grow and contribute beautiful music to your community and our culture. As we know, our culture’s musicians have been impacted by Covid. May I ask, how has ProMusica been affected by Covid? Are you hosting virtual concerts in addition to safe live concerts? If live concerts, what venues have you selected?
JR: As with almost everyone in the music industry, we were heavily impacted by Covid 19. Our season normally runs from October to March. Last March, we had to cancel five of our concerts as musicians were not travelling and many of our audience were quarantining. As the summer went on and things got worse, we had many musicians for our upcoming 20-21 season cancel, and we spent the summer rebuilding our season and rewriting contracts.
As most of our audience is American and Canadian, we have also had to reconfigure our season taking into account a 50% loss of our audience with people not travelling this year. To continue bringing world class classical music to everyone, we are now recording our live, outdoor concerts, and putting them on our website in Video On Demand format for purchase. VOD tickets can be purchased through the tickets tab. They are available on a per concert basis. So only Richard Dowling is available at this time.
LRW: Wow. That breaks my heart to hear. What a tumultuous time for everyone in the music performance industry. I’m so glad to hear Pro Musica will be recording your live outdoor concerts and making them available through your website. A labor of love indeed. On a more positive note, your Youth + Music Program sounds like a great opportunity for young musicians. When was this program founded and by whom? What is the story?
JR: Our Youth+Music program has been a collaboration between our President and the head of our education outreach, Tim Hazell. Our original Rhythm, Rhyme and Reason program, teaching music to underprivileged children in rural schools, has been running for about 10 years now. We more recently have taken over the city’s Youth Orchestra and we started the music academy for younger children. Unfortunately, due to Covid 19, our entire program has come to a stand still.
LRW: As an art and piano teacher and founder of a school, I commend Tim Hazell for his exemplary work bringing music education programs to children in underprivileged areas and championing the Youth Orchestra of San Miguel de Allende. Fingers crossed these precious programs will reopen soon. Programs like these depend on the support of members, of course. May I ask, what does your membership program offer? Are there different price levels? Is membership vetted or may anyone join?
JR: Our membership has incredible benefits at different price levels. Our memberships start at US$100 and go up to US$10,000 and up. We have over 150 members. Anyone can join Pro Musica, we welcome all support. You can see our entire membership benefit information on our webpage.
LRW: Good to know. I hope my readers will consider membership in your wonderful organization. Where may my readers learn more about ProMusica?
KR: We are in the process of redoing our entire website to offer more information to everyone, especially those who don’t know what we do and why we do it. We welcome you to come visit our site. We also have a presence on Facebook, Pro Musica SMA. Thank you so much for this opportunity to tell you a little about who we are.
Jenny, the pleasure was all mine. I wish your organization all the best during this difficult time and in the future. I hope to attend a Pro Musica concert in beautiful San Miguel de Allende at some point in the not-too-distant future.
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