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Opinion

Learning from Spanish master music conductor

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March 28, 2014

The week before spring break was busy but exciting for the UW-River Falls music department. For the entire week, the symphony band and university band were honored to work with Toni Blasco Lambies, a guest conductor from Valencia, Spain. Lambies came to UWRF knowing very little English, and had to come to rehearsals with a translator, who knew very little music.

Though there was a language barrier with many of the musicians, it was a learning experience, and Lambies is a guest that the music department will remember for years to come. He surely exemplified that music is a language that everyone can understand.

Lambies was born and raised in Buñol, Spain. He began studying music there at the age of 10 at the Centro Instructivo Musical “La Armónica” (CIMA). While at CIMA, he was a member of both the symphonic band “La Armónica” and saxophone quartet. After completing his studies there, he advanced to the Conservatory of Music, also in Buñol. While there, he took courses in music theory, music history, transposing, pedagogy and saxophone (his primary instrument). He adds that he was an excellent student at the Conservatory, which was only the beginning of his immense success.

While Lambies does a lot of performing on saxophone, he spends the majority of his time teaching and conducting. He conducts a number of bands in and around Valencia, including the municipal band at Pinto, youth band of CIMA, Buñol’s high school band, Musical Union Higueruelas in Valencia and the Cultural-Artistic Association “Benito García de la Parra” in Toledo.

He has also appeared as a guest conductor in both Toledo and Spain. In addition to conducting, Lambies has served as Professor of Saxophone at the School of Music at “Lira” in Pozuelo de Alarcón and “Beatriz Galindo” Institute of Goya Street in Madrid.

Lambies works hard as a performer as well, having performed in halls and auditoriums such as National Music Auditorium in Madrid, Seville Cathedral, Teatro de la Zarzuela and Teatro Monumental of Madrid. He has also performed abroad in France, Hungary and Italy. One of his most exciting experiences came in 2000 when he was selected to perform with musicians around the world at the Vatican.

The concert bands in Spain differ greatly from American concert bands. Bands typically have around 150 members, which are almost triple the size of American concert bands. Most bands hold rehearsals that run from morning to night, making sure their program is nearly flawless. Musicians here at UWRF were in awe when Lambies described this, obviously impressed by what he is a part of back home.

I not only saw this as a unique musical experience, I saw it as a unique cultural experience. Prior to college, I studied Spanish for six years, so I was excited to finally listen and speak to a native speaker. I could pick up on most of what he was saying, though actually talking to him in Spanish was a bit more nerve-wracking. He was very patient with and friendly to us, which made working with him that much easier. Lambies was not shy, and he worked with every single member of the band to make sure they were comfortable with the music and that their efforts were appreciated. The connection he made with us was so great that he did not hesitate to tell everyone to add him on Facebook or send him an email. Working with Lambies is one of my fondest memories at UWRF.

Lambies is not the only one traveling around the world. Members of the UWRF and Mankato State Music Departments will be traveling to Spain this June to introduce more music to the Spanish people and learn more about their vast culture. The goal of this once-in-a-lifetime experience is to inspire people and make lasting memories, just like Lambies did with us.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.