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October 16, 2007 > A Night of Music and Tango

A Night of Music and Tango

By Janet Grant

It has been said that "the Argentine tango is when you're in the heat of things and all kinds of emotions are flying: passion, anger, humor." The same rings true for Music at the Mission concerts where the music presented can help you experience an entire range of human emotion. With the debut of its fourth season on Saturday, October 20, emotions will be flying high as Music at the Mission in partnership with Music@Market presents Zero Hour...The World of Astor Piazzolla.

Astor Pantaleon Piazzolla was an Argentine Tango composer and bandoneon player who revolutionized traditional tango. By incorporating elements of jazz and classical music, he created a new style termed "Tango Nuevo". Known in his native land as El Gran Astor (The Great Astor), Piazzolla is widely considered to be the most important tango composer of the latter half of the twentieth century.

Piazzolla straddled the classical and popular music worlds in a way that has rarely been seen in the history of music. Though many crossover artists have been successful, Piazzolla was incredibly adept in both worlds. Recently there has been a huge surge of interest in his music. While many orchestras and chamber music groups have brought his tango compositions to the music hall, Music at the Mission has designed a program that illustrates the various classical influences which surrounded his life.

The first half of Saturday's concert at old Mission San Jose will feature works by the Argentine classical composer Alberto Ginastera. They include Danzas Argentinas for solo piano and Pampeana no. 1, op 16 for violin and piano. Ginastera was Piazzolla's teacher and was very significant to his compositional development.

Also featured are works by composers who were influenced by Piazzolla's music: Instead of a Tango for bandoneon, violin, guitar, double bass and piano by Giya Kanceli and Le Grande Tango for violin and piano for A. Piazzolla, arranged by Sofia Gubaidalina. The program will explore how the classical world came into Piazzolla's and the incredible influence his music, in turn, had on composers as far flung as the countries of Russia and Georgia.

The second half of the concert will feature Piazzolla compositions from both his first quintet period of the 1960s and the second quintet period of the 1980s. While many performances have featured arrangements of his music on the classical stage, Saturday's program will feature his music in its original quintet orchestration. Many consider the quintet of bandoneon, violin, guitar, piano, and bass to be the greatest vehicle for his music, and where Piazzolla himself was most at home.

Artists appearing on Saturday night will feature noted Bay Area Tango musician Seth Asarnow performing on bandoneon and versatile San Francisco guitarist, John Imholz.

Mr. Asarnow, after learning his first tango at the tender age of four, learned the piano and became a multi-instrumentalist, totally self-taught on the bandoneon, a popular Argentine free-reed instrument essential in tango orchestras. He has a repertory consisting of hundreds of tangos and is heard on recordings that range in style from traditional tangos to rock. Asarnow has composed film scores, played on film soundtracks, and works regularly with some of the finest tango dancers in the world.

Mr. Asarnow has performed as acoustic bassist behind such well-known jazz artists as pianist Dick Hindman and alto saxophonist Richie Cole. He also performed with the Santa Cruz and San Jose Chamber Orchestras and has toured Japan with his own piano trio. His influences include Troilo, Federico and of course, Piazzolla, whom he met in 1989.

Bay Area native John Imholz began playing guitar at the age of fourteen. Early musical influences of such diverse performers as John Williams, Andres Segovia, Herb Ellis, Les Paul, and Eric Clapton helped shape his musical style. These varied influences came together professionally for Mr. Imholz in his early twenties when he began playing guitar, banjo, and mandolin in such diverse settings as rock bands, jazz ensembles, chamber groups, with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, and many local theater pit orchestras where his knack of shifting styles, musical genres, and instruments was a definite asset.

Mr. Asarnow and Mr. Imholz will be joined by a group of leading classical musicians including Violinist Ertan Torgul, Symphony of Silicon Valley Principal Bassist Bill Everett, and Bay Area Concert Pianist, Aileen Chanco.

To truly savor the world of Astor Piazzolla, Music at the Mission is partnering with the Bay Area Tango Society to co-host a Milonga (tango dance) immediately following the concert. Instructors from the society will give a free introductory lesson in the tango and members of the society will be on hand to help novices during the evening.

As Astor Piazzolla once infused the worlds of classical and jazz with the tango, Music at the Mission hopes to join together two unlikely audiences, lovers of classical music with the tango aficionado for a night of music, dance, and passion.

On Saturday, an informative, half-hour talk by musician Bill Everett at 7:00 p.m. will precede the concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. A complimentary reception featuring dessert, Argentinean appetizers and wine will immediately follow the concert during which guests will be able to meet the artists. The Milonga will begin during the reception.

For more information, call (510) 656-2364 or visit

Music at the Mission presents Zero Hour...The World of Astor Piazzolla
Saturday, October 20
7:00 p.m.
Old Mission San Jose
43300 Mission Blvd., Fremont
(510) 656-2364

General Admission, $30, Students/Seniors and BATANGO members, $25

Tickets by mail (checks only):
Music at the Mission San Jose
P. O. Box 3276
Fremont, CA 94539
E-mail (checks only):
Online (credit card):

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