A specialist of music from Latin America and the Caribbean, acclaimed flutist Martha Councell-Vargas releases a new album on the Blue Griffin label - “Gran Danzón” (BG 307). With a pop-art cover that tips the hat to the glitzy 1940’s and 50’s pin-up culture of Cuban dance orchestras’ record jackets, she is joined by pianist Richard Steinbach and percussionist Olman Piedra, as they pay homage to the celebratory and festive spirit that bonds the American continent.
The four works by presented on the album are all by American composers (both North and South), and are unified not only by their common heritage, but their juxtaposition of Euro-classical form with the American folk music tradition – bringing forth what Councell-Vargas believes to be a “Universal Americanism.”
The title track – “Gran Danzón” by the incomparable Paquito D’Rivera – presents a special reverence for Martha Councell-Vargas, as it was her interview with the great Cuban artist, and the subsequent discovery of the charanga style, that inspired the flutist’s love of Latin American music, and the search of the unifying element of music of the Americas.
Martha Councell-Vargas has been enjoying an active performing career as a soloist and chamber musician in Central and South America, Europe, and across the United States. With a scholarly and artistic specialization in the music of Latin America and the Caribbean, she has participated as a guest artist in the Festival Internacional de Flautistas in Lima, Peru the Festival Internacional de Flautistas en el Centro del Mundo in Quito, Ecuador, and in Panama City, Panamá for the Asociación Nacional de Conciertos, among others. Her many recital and concert appearances include the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra, and the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series at the Chicago Cultural Center.
The complete track list is as follows:
Andres Sás Sonatina-Fantasí
Eduardo Gamboa - Transparencias
Christopher Caliendo - Sonata No. 7 “The Jazz Sonata”
8 Andante un poco allegretto
9 Andante Rapsodia
10 Moderato con fuoco
11 Paquito D’Rivera - Gran Danzón “The Bel-air Concerto”
“Gran Danzón” was recorded at Blue Griffin’s Studio The Ballroom, produced and engineered by Sergei Kvitko, and is available at www.BlueGriffin.com, as well as other online and physical retail outlets.
Martha Councell-Vargas enjoys an exhilarating career as a solo and chamber flutist, teaching artist, and scholar. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in Central and South America, Europe, China, and across the United States. With a scholarly and artistic specialization in the music of Latin America and the Caribbean, she has been featured as a guest artist in the Festival Internacional de Flautistas in Lima, Peru; the Convención Internacional de Flautistas en el Centro del Mundo (Quito, Ecuador); in Panamá City, Panamá under the auspices of the Asociación Nacionál de Conciertos; in Tegucigalpa, Honduras at the Escuela Nacional de Música; and in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was recently featured as guest teaching artist at the first annual Seminario de Pedagogia e Interpretacion en la Flauta Traversa, which took place at the Conservatorio Nacional de Colombia (Bogotá). In 2011, Councell-Vargas traveled to Havana, Cuba, where she researched the Cuban flute tradition, research that was inspired by her study, performance, and doctoral scholarship on Paquito D’Rivera’s flute concerto, Gran Danzón. Inspired by this unique Cuban flutistry, she plays a pink ivory wood head joint made by Kanichi Nagahara on a silver flute made by Lillian Burkhart.
Councell-Vargas is a top prizewinner in several national competitions, including the National Flute Association's Young Artist Competition, Frank Bowen Flute Competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Flute Talk Competition in Chicago. International appearances include Paris, France, where she was invited to perform at the Jean Pierre Rampal International Concours de Flûte in 2005, and Uelzen, Germany, where she was the only North American to participate in the International Friedrich Kuhlau flute competition (2007), and was honored as a semi-finalist.
She has performed across the United States in recital and concerto appearances, as a soloist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra, and on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series at the Chicago Cultural Center. In 2008 she was invited by the National Flute Association to perform as a featured guest artist in a New York City tribute to composer Paquito D’Rivera.
Councell-Vargas holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory, Rice University Shepherd School of Music, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Iowa. Currently, she is assistant professor of flute at Western Michigan University.