Toward the end of September 2008, the New York Times reviewed a concert by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and mentioned, in the same breath, music by Rachmaninoff, Respighi, and a new work, “Fiesta!” “by a young Peruvian composer, Jimmy López.” Mr. López, 29, noted the Times, “is a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley.” López’s Ph.D. will be in composition.*
The orchestra’s “fast-rising” musical director, Miguel Harth-Bedova, is Peruvian-born, but he didn’t pick López’s name out of a hat. “Fiesta!” premiered in Peru’s capital a year ago, commissioned of López by Harth-Bedova for the 100th anniversary of the Lima Philharmonic Society.
The traveling Times critic, James Oestreich, said “Fiesta!” was labeled a miniature symphony, but “it actually represents a genre with an even older tradition, a virtuosic suite of dances giving refined expression to popular idioms.” Mr. López , he said “proves himself expert in orchestration.” The concert was in Fort Worth’s Bass Performance Hall, a “magnificent” multipurpose auditorium “seating more than 2,000 yet retaining the acoustics of a fine, intimate concert hall,” according to Oestreich.
In addition to Peru and the U.S.A., López’s works have been performed in Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, and Taiwan. “Fiesta!” garnered a lively review at the beginning of the summer in Maryland, where it was performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; the Baltimore Sun’s music writer said it “had a kinetic kick, with great brass licks and percussion flourishes.”
Short audio samples of López’s works are available online.
(Originally published in eGrad, October 2008)
* Update: López received his Ph.D. at Berkeley in May 2012. His orchestral works have been performed in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Fort Worth, and Helsinki, among other cities. Upcoming performances and premieres are listed on his website.