Orquesta Northwest Reexamines the Conquest of Mexico—500 Years Later

Text and interview by Maggie Molloy
Audio production by Dacia Clay

Orquesta Northwest Music Director Paula Nava Madrigal and poet Raúl Sánchez.

New music is in dialogue with music of the past at a pair of concerts presented this weekend by Early Music Seattle and Orquesta Northwest.

Written in 1733, Vivaldi’s Motezuma opera offers a fictionalized, Eurocentric account of the Spanish conquest of Mexico; in response, composer Héctor Armienta and poet Raúl Sánchez offer a new telling of the story from the viewpoint of contemporary Mexican-Americans. The Other Conquest is a concert program that challenges the assumptions of colonialism displayed in Vivaldi’s work, inviting listeners to consider other perspectives in the telling of this 500-year-old story.

Armienta and Sánchez’s new work, La Conquista, receives its world premiere this Saturday, Feb. 8 by Orquesta Northwest’s Ballard Civic Orchestra, an ensemble committed to showcasing the work of Latinx artists in the Seattle community. It is paired with selections from Vivaldi’s original opera performed by Ensemble Caprice. Audience members can hear Ensemble Caprice perform a full, semi-staged production of Vivaldi’s Motezuma on Sunday, Feb. 9.

To learn more about both of these concerts and the connections between them, we talked with Orquesta Northwest Music Director Paula Nava Madrigal and poet and librettist Raúl Sánchez.

Orquesta Northwest’s Ballard Civic Orchestra performs The Other Conquest on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 7:30pm at Broadway Performance Hall.

Ensemble Caprice performs Vivaldi’s Motezuma on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 2:30pm at Town Hall, presented by Early Music Seattle.

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