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Argentine tango musicians teach, perform at Emory this week

Tango musicians Damián Bolotin and Sonia Possetti work with Emory music students during a masterclass on Monday, Oct. 15. Photo by Dan Smigrod.

Argentine tango musicians Sonia Possetti and Damián Bolotin visit Emory this week as artists in residence, culminating in a performance with the Emory University Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. in the Emerson Concert Hall of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.

Pianist Possetti and violinist Bolotin are “stellar examples of contemporary tango music or ‘the Music of Buenos Aires,’” says Kristin Wendland, professor of pedagogy and director of undergraduate studies in the Emory Music Department.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have these world-class tango artists in residence,” explains Wendland, who organized the residency as part of the Schwartz Artist-in-Residence Program. 

While on campus, Possetti and Bolotin are engaging in all areas of the music department including visiting classes to discuss tango history and culture; a composition talk with student composers; and extended master classes in vocal practice, piano and strings. 

On Saturday, Possetti and Bolotin take the stage with student ensembles to perform both traditional European orchestral music from Camille Saint-Saëns and North and South American orchestral music including pieces composed by the tango artists themselves.

“The richly varied influences present in the tango works mirror the breadth of Saint-Saëns compositional output, in that he composed for nearly every musical genre — a rarity among 19th century French composers,” says Paul Bhasin, director of wind studies and interim director of orchestral studies.

"The Emory University Symphony Orchestra musicians have been enjoying preparing the orchestral tango works by celebrated composer/performers Possetti and Bolotin while eagerly looking forward to their arrival to our campus,” says Bhasin, who will conduct the Oct. 20 performance. “With their music as a first-rate platform, all of us, to a person, have learned a great deal about its rhythmic complexities and lyrical intensity. It has been a true joy to prepare!"

Wendland, who has worked with Possetti and Bolotin since first meeting the artists in 2002, looks forward to the effect their visit will have on the Emory community as a whole. “As they bring Buenos Aires to us,” she says, “they will give us an inside view of the beauty and depth of Argentine tango music.”

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