UTPB, Juarez choirs to conduct cultural exchange

University of Texas of the Permian Basin and Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez will have a cultural exchange of their choirs in March.

It took about a year to organize the exchange, which started with an exchange of emails between Director of Choral and Vocal Studies Frank Eychaner and Alonso Fierro, who is in charge of the Anaima choir at Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez.

Eychaner and his wife, Karen, an accompanist, will travel to Juarez March 12 to March 14. Eychaner said they will perform for the students at and talk about different styles of performance.

“The maestro shared that he’s got students that are interested in contemporary style jazz and Broadway, so we’ll do some of that. I’m really excited to spend some with the professor as he works with his recording and sound students,” Eychaner said.

Interviewed via Skype, Fierro said he will come to Odessa March 21 through March 23 and bring his choir members. He said there are 10 members of the ensemble, including himself.

Fierro said the choir performs some songs with puppets that would be good for audiences of children. They also will sing some religious and contemporary music.

“… It’s a new thing that we’re trying. … We’re fairly close to each other (Odessa and Juarez). I think it’s going to be an awesome experience, just having the doctor (Eychaner) being here and visiting and also us trying to go over there and having the experience of being there. … Also, we can show that there’s no language barrier. Most of our students speak Spanish and most of your students speak English, but there’s something that gets us along which is music,” Fierro said.

Fierro started conducted choral music for churches and community choirs when he was 15. He then started studying music.

Some years ago, he said, he went to Cuba and learned more at Latin music.

Eychaner said a concert is planned for 7:30 p.m. March 23 featuring the choirs of UTPB and Anaima. They will perform a couple of pieces together and Eychaner and Fierro will take turns conducting the combined choirs.

“We’re going to do a number of public performances. I met with Hispanic Heritage of Odessa. They’re going to help us with a number of things. The choir is going to perform for a number of community organizations while they’re here. We’re also going to get them into some schools,” Eychaner said.

Eychaner said he’s also going to ask Fierro to conduct a voice master class for all the vocal majors and have Fierro talk to the music education students about music education in Mexico and the similarities and differences between the U.S. and Mexico.

“He’s going to rehearse and work with the choirs,” Eychaner said.

Although they aren’t sure if there will be time, Eychaner wants Fierro to talk to instrumental students about different Latin styles and how you differentiate between a samba, a bossa nova and a cumbias, among other things.

Eychaner said there will be a lot of benefits to having Anaima’s visit.

“I think that any time we can see somebody else who is doing something successfully, but they’ve been on a different path to get to that success, they see possible pathways for their own future that might be different from what they’ve experienced but equally as valid. I love it when we’re able to bring in other scholars and experts from the field because that just enriches our students,” Eychaner said.

“That’s what education is about. I love the fact that we’re going to hear a different cultural ideal of what excellence is about,” he added.

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