The Mexican Repertoire Initiative at Dartmouth was founded by our Artistic Director, Dr. Brian Messier. The Valley Winds have partnered with this initiative by joining the Mexican Composer Incubation Project, commissioning and co-commissioning works by Mexican Composers, and by recording works for the Mexican Repertoire Collection.
The Mexican Repertoire Initiative is an ongoing commitment to bring Mexican repertoire to the international stage. It provides opportunities for Mexican composers and combats institutionalized racism in educational and professional performing ensembles.
Here’s how the Mexican Repertoire Initiative will increase exposure and representation of Mexican composers:
- Commission and facilitate the creation of new works
- Release albums of Mexican Repertoire with Urtext Digital Classics (Mexico’s largest classical record label)
- Advocate for the inclusion of Mexican works on Prescribed Music Lists.
- Prescribed Music Lists are premade lists that help educators find and choose music for their students to learn to play. However, these lists can be problematic because they primarily advertise music composed by white men, having no representation for any other demographic. Especially when considering the actual demographics of many schools.
Prior to this initiative, authentic Music for wind band by Mexican composers did not exist. The purpose of this presentation is to bring awareness to the need and potential for Mexican Repertoire.
Here are two major projects of the Mexican Repertoire Initiative:
- The Mexican Composer Incubation Project
- The Mexican Repertoire Collection at Dartmouth
The next portion of this page explores the topic further with a presentation by Dr. Messier.
Table of Contents
By Dr. Brian Messier
Before we continue, I would like to thank Dr. Cory Meals, Assistant Professor in Music Education at the University of Houston, data guru, and Member of the Mexican Repertoire Initiative’s Advisory Council, for his assistance with the data and graphs in this presentation.
- The first image pictured is a graph of Western Hemisphere Metropolitan area populations in 2018. Here we see that Mexico City is the second most populated city in the Western Hemisphere, edged out by São Paulo.
- To add a European context, just above Mexico City I’ve included the combined population of London and Paris.
- We’re talking about one of the largest, most cosmopolitan, cultured, and artistic cities in the world, that has never contributed in a meaningful way to our repertoire.
- Now if we move this graph to 2030, you see that Mexico City is projected to surpass São Paulo in the near future.
- And that growth extends nicely into the next topic, which is Mexican population growth within the United States.
U.S. Population and Race by Ethnicity
This first graph represents the U.S. population from 2010 – 2020. You can see some decline in the White population (light blue) and increase in the Latinx population (dark blue), but it doesn’t look too dramatic. Until… You break it down by generation.
This second graph shows that in Generation, in 2018 the Latinx population has climbed from 8% to 25% while the white population has declined from 78% to 51%.
- Currently 28% of school aged children in the US are Latinx, and Latinx students will be the majority population by 2050.
- We also know that 63%, just under 2/3s, of the Latinx population is Mexican, and that the Mexican population is by far the most dispersed throughout the United States and world.
- Looking at this chart, think back to Dr. Montesinos’ middle school band picture, and the changes in demographics since.
Now, let’s compare these population trends to programming trends.
This chart represents the Latinx Composer Representation in US College Wind Bands from 2014 – 2020.
- The Yellow represents all Latinx composers, while the blue represents specifically Mexican.
- We see a peak around 2017, which I call the Danzon No. 2 bubble.
- We’re seeing a decline in recent years… Perhaps due to the pandemic? Or maybe a burst of the Danzon No. 2 bubble?
- Next, let’s look at these same numbers compared to the overall Composer Representation.
Now, here are those same numbers put into the context of all programming. The entire previous graph of Latinx and Mexican programming is condensed into that tiny red line at the bottom. So, clearly, this large and growing Latinx and Mexican population is not being represented.
Here is a quote from Dr. Christina Gomez, Visiting Professor of Sociology at Dartmouth College, speaking to the importance of representation among this population:
Globalization is not just what is going, but what comes back.”
Acute need for Mexican (rep)resentation
- Performance Practices are not representative
- Latinx population is increasing over time
- We have a growing population of Mexican students, and that population wants to be represented.
- We don’t currently have Mexican repertoire to represent this population
- Immigrant populations are interested in maintaining cultural identity
- Many similes for integration and immigration include the image of a “melting pot.” We should not use this as an example. Instead, let’s think of it as a “salad bowl.” Everything contributes to make the salad while maintaining its own identity as a specific food.
Acute lack of aunthentic Mexican Repertoire
- No educational or professional culture of Wind Bands in Mexico
- Wind Bands primarily exist in social and community environments, also making this a classist issue
- Composers are not trained or expected to write for wind bands
- Subsequently, in conservatory, musicians are not trained to write for wind bands and there is no expectation that they would do so. Orchestra is far more important to conservatories.
- Unimaginable potential exists
- While musicians have not been trained to write for wind band, we’ve established that due to the rich culture, artistic and musical vibrancy, and sheer population, unimaginable potential exists.
- So how do we tap into that potential in order to meet this acute need?
This is where the Mexican Composer Incubation project comes in.
Click here to learn about the Incubation project.