Pan American Symphony Orchestra-Mexico Sinfonico

Washington Post - Cecilia Porter, May 23, 2005

Adams Morgan was the scene of some enjoyable music making at the Mexican Cultural Institute Saturday. "Mexico Sinfonico," a concert by the Pan American Symphony Orchestra and the 13th Street Saxophone Quartet, featured the music of Mexican composers Jose Pablo Moncayo and Arturo Marquez, and the Argentine Astor Piazzolla. Founded and conducted by Sergio Alessandro Buslje, PASO is a community-based chamber orchestra that has enlivened Washington's music scene for more than a decade. Its projects include inviting talented local high school students to join in its concerts.

Saturday's performance was as refreshing as traditional events performed outdoors on a Sunday afternoon at the town bandstand. Buslje goes at it with an energy and enthusiasm that maneuvers this group over rough technical hurdles and is met with some sturdy, responsive playing. The rather high-decibel evening began with three samples of Piazzolla's signature crossovers mixing the rhythmic asymmetries of Latin dance with classical influences. The orchestra handled the dance styles with no-nonsense vigor, though it still needed some warm-up time. For Moncayo's Sinfonietta, Buslje managed to highlight its Coplandesque fresh-air sound while underlining the piece's basic rhythmic pulses forged from Hispanic and indigenous Mexican folk music. Marquez's Danzon No. 8 was performed with equal success.

The saxophones added a generous measure of the cool and catchy, most effectively in Marquez's Danzon No. 5.