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State ousts Yucatán Symphony Orchestra leader, announces new focus

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Former OSY Conductor Juan Carlos Lomónaco. Photo: File

A new artistic director for the Yucatán Symphony Orchestra has been announced with no mention of what happened to Juan Carlos Lomónaco, a fixture at the OSY for 14 years.

Ahead of the announcement, this weekend’s concerts — to have included works from Rossini, Mozart and Schumann — were canceled.

Sedeculta, the state Secretary of Culture, announced José Areán, a previous guest conductor, as his replacement, and promised more Mexican and Yucatecan programming.

Maestro Lomónaco, 54, a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, is remembered for leading the orchestra through the COVID-19 pandemic. Diario de Yucatán also lauded Lomónaco for his professional connections that allowed him to bring relevant productions to the stage and the arrival of high-profile guest conductors.

This morning the OSY Facebook page included a day-old birthday greeting for Lomónaco, but the OSY website was down.

Sedeculta’s announcement promised more Mexican and particularly Yucatecan composers in the future, and more performances in diverse locations.

The Yucatán Symphony Orchestra at the Teatro Peón Contreras. Photo: File

These have been rocky times for the OSY. In early November, a fire left its home base — the historic Teatro Peón Contreras — out of commission.

The Yucatán Symphony Orchestra had to refund its tickets and sell new ones for the much smaller Palacio de la Música. Poor maintenance at the state-owned venue was blamed. Earlier, it was revealed that the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra was not given a budget to ensure the continuity of its operation past June. That means the state government is in non-compliance with a 2008 decree which obliges it to cover the orchestra’s payroll and grant it a budget of no less than the previous year.

José Areán has been appointed artistic director of the OSY. Photo: Courtesy

About José Areán

Lomónaco’s successor has an impressive background. José Areán has led the baton in more than 40 opera and ballet performances at the Teatro de Bellas Artes, where he served as the orchestra’s assistant director as well as artistic coordinator of the National Opera Company.

Among his artistic achievements is the world premiere of the definitive version of the only opera by Carlos Chávez, “The Visitors,” at the XXVII International Cervantino Festival.

As a guest conductor, he has performed with the National Symphony Orchestras of Aguascalientes, the University of Guanajuato, the Vienna Conservatory and its Camerata, as well as the Mexico City Philharmonic and the Autonomous University of Mexico.

Since 1998 he has been the Musical Director of the Ónix Ensamble de México, a group dedicated to the interpretation of works from the 20th century and with which he has performed a large number of world premieres by national composers, including Gyorgy Ligeti and Luciano Berio.

His forays as a film music director include pieces from the feature film “Bajo California: El límite del Tiempo” by Carlos Bolado, winner of seven Arieles, and the film “Seres Humanos” by Jorge Aguilera, both composed by Antonio Fernández Ros. He recently recorded in the Czech Republic with the Prague Philharmonic the soundtrack for “The Virgin of Lust,” the latest film by Arturo Ripstein, and music by Leoncio Lara Bon, which will be released as a CD by EMI Records International.

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