Rare Baroque Experience in Merida
Local composer and realtor, Leroy Osmon is helping shape Merida’s musical identity. He supports the fine arts by helping world-class musicians settle in Merida and enjoy new performance opportunities.
"There are always more fabulous musicians than jobs, so we were very luck to attract some very talented performers to our symphony,” he says. “For example, we have Ruth Bennett, an internationally recognized harpist and many players like that from all over the world.”
Dr. Keith Thorp is the most recent addition to the capital's talented assets.
"The development of music and culture in Merida is the reason we chose this town," he says. "We looked at a lot of cities in Mexico for retirement and this just seemed to have everything we were looking for," says Thorp. "Leroy is a music professor, which is what I do, so I thought he might know what I’m looking for and...he did."
On April 13th, Dr. Thorp will lead one of the remaining concerts at Hacienda Xcanatun in the Chamber Music Merida! season.
The performance features all Baroque-period instruments, which are rare in the Yucatan. There are some technical obstacles in bringing these instruments to the Yucatan; chief among them being humidity. Thorp learned the hard way when he moved a harpsichord from San Francisco to Florida. “After 3 months in Florida, it was unplayable,” he remembers.
"There are technical differences with the historical instruments as well." Thorp continues. "For example, the bow of the violin has gone from an outward curve to an inward curve,” he says. “All of this is to produce a louder sound because concert halls were becoming larger.”
When these instruments are played in the right acoustic, they have a richness and resonance. Modern instruments are brighter, louder. They don’t have that warmth that early instruments have. They both have their place. When you play in historic buildings, the acoustics tend to be really amazing. The sound just blossoms.
“We’ll also pause during the concert for Dr. Thorp to explain a bit about the harpsichord,” Osmon assures me. “To hear Telemann on modern instruments is very different from hearing it the way Telemann did. They both have something to offer, but we want to bring performances to Merida that give people the opportunity to hear something they’ve never heard before.”
Apart from well-known composers, like Telemann, the quartet will also perform pieces by relatively unknown composers.
“When I do historic music, I don’t feel an obligation to the composers. My obligation is to the audience. I learn as much as I can about the history, sound and technique because I want to give the audience an interesting and engaging musical experience.”
Dr. Thorp will be doing the concert, performing with the symphony in May and hopes to offer performances out of his home in the future.