The Sembrich
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Simon Mulligan at The Sembrich. Photo credit: YM Photography

Violin-playing Villalobos Brothers Return to The Sembrich

Violin-playing Villalobos Brothers Return to The Sembrich

—Blending Traditional Mexican, Classical and Jazz—

BOLTON LANDING, NY —  By popular demand, the acclaimed Villalobos Brothers return to Lake George as this season’s Flonzaley Resident Ensemble at the Sembrich Opera Museum, a weeklong stay that includes two performances in Bolton, an art installation, a music-video filming and a concert preview at the World Awareness Children’s Museum in Glens Falls.

Comprised of violin-playing siblings Ernesto, Alberto and Luis, the Villalobos Brothers have been hailed as “one of today’s leading Mexican ensembles, a band that delivers a masterful blend that combines the indigenous rhythms and melodies of their native Veracruz with the intricate harmonies of jazz and classical music.”

A New “Curtain Time”

Joining the brothers for “Mexican Rhythms,” a lakeside performance by the full band on Wednesday, August 16th at 5 pm are Humberto Flores, guitar, Rosa Avila, drums and Andrew Dow, bass.

“Although the usual curtain time for our World Music Wednesday performances is 1:30 pm, we scheduled this year’s appearance by the group for 5 pm to accommodate working folks,” says Sembrich Artistic Director Richard Wargo.

This performance is sold out, but concert-goers interested in attending can call The Sembrich office at 518 644-2431 in the event of any cancellations.  Tickets are $25.

An Intimate, Acoustic Performance

A second performance, entitled “Villalobos Unplugged” is planned for Saturday, August 19th at 7:30 pm.  This evening of acoustic music in the intimacy of the Sembrich studio features brothers Ernesto, Alberto and Luis, joined by guitarist Humberto Flores.  Tickets are $35.

The program features a line-up of brand new works, both vocal and instrumental, composed by the brothers, including “Dunes of Jaipur” (for guitar, two violins, and 2 Palmas) “Pizzicato Symphony” and “Campesina,” among many others.

Guitarist Flores will perform two solo guitar pieces, an untitled original and, from the classical guitar repertoire, “Capricho Arabe” by F. Tarrega.

Percussionist Samuel Zavaleta will make a guest appearance and join the brothers for the performance of an original work entitled “Azul pacífico.”

A Concert Preview at the World Awareness Children’s Museum

A short preview of this concert will be presented by the Villalobos Brothers at the World Awareness Children’s Museum in Glens Falls on Saturday, August 19th at 12 noon, a part of that museum’s ongoing ¡Hola, Mexico! Exhibit. Admission to the Museum is $5, under 3 free. The preview is at no additional charge. For further information, call 518 793-2773.

Art Installation

In addition to the musical performances at The Sembrich during the residency week, Alberto Villalobos will exhibit a sampling of his recent art installation, “Hombres de Arcilla” (Men of Clay), a collection of hand-made clay masks designed to honor the memory of the forty-three missing students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico. The exhibit hung on display at The Point Campus in the Bronx this past spring.

“For me, clay represents the fragility of life, yet the resilience of the human spirit,” states Alberto.  “I hope that by giving faces to the disappeared, their memory may live on.”

Music Video

While in residence at The Sembrich, the Villalobos Brothers plan to visit one of the islands on Lake George and possibly find inspiration there for a future music video.


About the Villalobos Brothers

The Villalobos Brothers were the first Mexican band ever to play at the Apollo Theater in Harlem adding this historic venue to an already impressive list of credits that includes the Latin Grammy Awards, Carnegie Hall, the Guggenheim Museum, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the United Nations, Rockefeller Center, the New York Mets field at Shea Stadium, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Teatro Amadeo Roldán in Havana.

Born and raised in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, the Villalobos Brothers spent their childhood listening to their grandmother Cristina Vásquez sing and play guitar and accordion after a day’s work. They took up the violin as children and soon learned to sing and play other instruments, including guitar and piano.

“We had been playing together since childhood, in a very relaxed and laid-back environment,” says Alberto.  “However, things got serious when Ernesto—who was living in NYC at the time—called us to invite us to perform at Carnegie Hall for a benefit concert in 2005. Then and there, we decided to form the group and call it Villalobos Brothers. That was our official debut and first concert together!”

 Since that Carnegie Hall debut, the Villalobos Brothers have created a sensation in the music world. In 2013 they performed at Cumbre Tajin, one of the most important music festivals in Latin America. Later that year, they became the Ultimate Winners of the “2013 Battle of the Boroughs,” one of National Public Radio’s flagship competitions sponsored by WNYC and WQXR in New York City.

About the Flonzaley Residency

 The Flonzaley Resident Ensemble affords a talented group of musicians a week-long residency at The Sembrich with the opportunity to use the studio freely to rehearse and perform. The residency was established in tribute to the Flonzaley Quartet, founded by arts patron and Sembrich colleague Edward de Coppet in 1903. 

 Mr. de Coppet opened his Swiss estate to the artists each summer and established the quartet on the principal that its members would never accept outside engagements or take on students.  The musicians devoted themselves solely to the purpose of perfecting their art. It was with that lofty goal in mind that The Sembrich invited the Hyperion String Quartet as its first-ever quartet-in-residence in 2010 followed by the Brooklyn Art Song Society several years later.

 “When the Villalobos Brothers visited the studio last summer, it became apparent that they felt strong ties to Marcella Sembrich and her world through their own first teacher and mentor, Carlos Marrufo, who came to Veracruz, Mexico from Vienna,” says Artistic Director Wargo. “We knew that they would truly value a residency at The Sembrich.”