Oct. 15 2010 12:00 AM

Composer Ricardo Lorenz and violist Roberto Diaz salute the late Victor Jara

(Friday, Oct. 15) “He’s
kinda like the Bob Dylan of the Hispanic world,” says Ricardo Lorenz, Michigan
State University associate professor of composition. He is talking about the
late political activist and singer Victor Jara.

Jara passed away in September 1973, his words live on. “He brings that
theatricality to his songs. He was very outspoken,” says Lorenz.

how does world-renowned viola soloist Roberto Diaz fit into the picture?

in a way (Diaz) chose me,” Lorenz explains. “He contacted me six years ago for
a viola concerto. There are not many that play the viola. So, I agreed because
he’s one of the top viola players in the country. He has this nuanced way of
playing the viola, and Jara had a very mellow voice. The more I thought about
it, the more I realized that I was trying to impersonate Jara’s voice in the

Oct. 22, Diaz performs the world premiere of Lorenz’s concerto “Canciones de
Jara (Jara’s Songs)” for viola and orchestra at MSU’s Wharton Center.

is president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music and principal violist of
the Philadelphia Orchestra. “He has played with the top three orchestral
symphonies in United States,” Lorenz said, “and he comes from that world. This
project, I think, bridges his world and part of my world.

intention is not for audiences to leave the concert singing Jara’s songs. It is
more to do with the viola impersonating the emotional content of the songs.”

agrees. “For me, it’s not so much the political message. I talked to Ricardo
and he made it very clear that he is not trying to make a political message. I
think — what I understand from it — it’s the sound of the viola. If you think
about the sound of the viola, it is the one string instrument that is closest
to the normal human voice range. It’s a range that’s not too low or too high. It’s
only natural to think about songs in that range. In some ways the vocalness of
the lines of songs has carried into the piece.”

vocals are a significant aspect, but the music remains a priority. “I think
it’ll be different in that I’m bringing grass-roots, Bob Dylan-type of music,
where the viola is the guiding strength,” Lorenz says. “It has very happy, sad,
dramatic moments.”

was a folk singer, according to Diaz. “He pretty much sang and played the
guitar. If people want to think of an equivalent, it would be Joni Mitchell.”

addition to performing, Diaz will hold two master classes for MSU students from
the College of Music. The Viola Master Class will be held on Monday, Oct. 18, while
the Chamber Music Master Class will be on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

an Artists-in-Conversation discussion on Thursday, Oct. 22, Diaz said, “We may
show a documentary of Jara playing songs. I’ll be explaining the ways in which
I translated the meaning of text and how I utilized them.”

Roberto Diaz concert performance
8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22                    
Cobb Great Hall, Wharton Center         

For ticket
information, contact www.music.msu.edu or call (517)
353-5340. Tickets are $10 ($8 for seniors); students with ID and those under 18
are admitted free.
Tickets are also
available at Wharton Center Box Office at whartoncenter.com or by calling (517) 432-2000.