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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue:  May 6, 2002
Volume 37, Number 20

Music project to teach youth about technology
Via Mexican culture, history

By Laurie Mellas-RamirezJorge Pérez-Gómez

At the heart of an international project building momentum in the University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts is teaching young children about technology’s benefits and drawbacks via Mexican music, folklore, culture and history.

Drawing on Silvestre Revueltas musical composition “Troka,” a celebration of the 1930s storybook character Troka el poderoso (Troka the powerful), Mexican conductor Jorge Pérez-Gómez of the UNM Music Department plans to take musical theatre to new heights.

Lithograph of Tronka, the laptop.Troka, a robot who represents industrialism’s ideals and technology in its many forms – radio, airplane, telescope – is the principal protagonist in a series of stories written by Mexican author German List Arzubide in the 1930s.

List hosted a radio show that aired the tales of Troka – whose transformations mix elements of Mexican mythology and present technology.

“When Troka becomes a communication satellite it has the eyes of an Aztec God. The idea is that Troka is all powerful,” Pérez-Gómez said.

In his recently released compact disc titled Troka, Pérez-Gómez conducts the Moravian Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of Olomouc, Czech Republic, performing six pieces of Revueltas’ music. Produced by Quindecim Recordings of Mexico, this is the first recording of the renowned Mexican composer by a Czech orchestra.

The next step of the project is to realize Reveultas’ intention that the Troka composition be performed as dance theatre with pantomime puppets.

Venezuelan artist José Rodriquez has produced lithographs that will also serve as puppet renderings. Three of the transformations portrayed in the prints make reference to List’s original narrative and two relate to recent technological developments.

The CD, as well as 50 copies of each of the five limited edition lithographs, printed by Mark Silverberg in Oaxaca, Mexico, are available for sale.

Rodica Focseneanu, a student in the UNM Art and Art History Department from Romania, created a box modeled after a laptop computer to store the original lithographs.

“This is a multilayered, global project,” Pérez-Gómez said. “Rodica Focseneanu will also do the stage design. Once the puppets are created we will do educational concerts for children in New Mexico and near the border.”

Associate Professor Maria Williams of the UNM Arts of Americas Institute (AAI) says the combination of culture, education, music and technology makes it “an ideal AAI project.” The institute is working with Pérez-Gómez to win grants for puppet production and other performance related costs.

For information, or to purchase a CD ($15) or lithograph ($100), call Jorge Pérez-Gómez, 505-277-5135.H