Who we are. The Orchestra of New Spain is a versatile body of more than 40 instrumentalists and singers steeped in the performance of early music, with a specialty in Spanish and American Hispanic music. It’s principal repertory is drawn from manuscripts found in the court, public and cathedral archives of Spain, whence its Music Director has edited and the Orchestra has performed more than 100 little known works. It annually produces seven repertories played in some 12 concerts. The Orchestra’s theatrical, educational and touring activities offer its public a fascinating experience of a little-known aspect of Spanish musical life.
The mission of the Orchestra of New Spain is:
Introduction in concert of the neglected repertory of the Spanish 17th and 18th centuries, and exploration of the Hispanic heritage of which it is a part; educating the public on the importance of the repertory and its broader cultural implications.
Performance of other renaissance, baroque, classical and romantic repertories on period instruments.
Performance of alternative repertory, from other periods and of other provenance.
The Orchestra of New Spain operates under the umbrella of the Pegasus Musical Society, a non profit 501(c) 3 corporation.
Performers. The Orchestra calls upon the impressive talents of the large community of early music specialists in the Dallas Metroplex: university professors, free-lance musicians, private instructors and school teachers and church musicians, many of whom have been with the Orchestra since its founding. Principals include
Artistic Director Grover Wilkins 3d A conductor with wide experience in orchestral, choral and operatic/theatrical repertory, he has become a specialist in Spanish 18th century music through his research on major primary manuscript sources in court and cathedral archives in Spain. Curious to go beyond the standard repertory of 20th century concert music—a portent of things to come—Wilkins early in his career championed his composer colleagues by annually commissioning and performing new works as Director of Orchestral and Choral Music at the University of Pittsburgh, and creating the New Pittsbugh Chamber Orchestra as a platform for the rich repertory of chamber orchestra music of the 20th century. Working with the Pittsburgh Ballet he conducted a new choreography of Ravel’s Daphnis & Chloe, then spent two years as conductor of the Dallas Ballet under Flemming Flint. His interest in French repertory led Wilkins to a 1985 Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship to Paris where he quickly encountered collections of Spanish early music, triggering his resulting dedication to that intriguing repertory.
With samples of early research in hand, Wilkins convinced the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to choose his discoveries as the repertory for an Hispanic event for the 1989 opening of the Meyerson Symphony Center. From that singular event was born the Orchestra of New Spain.
Meanwhile, as a resident of Paris Wilkins created the Orchestre et Choeur Américain de Paris which specialized in the 20th century rep he had championed in other places. Introducing Scott Joplin—choreographed, Morton Feldman, Steve Reich, and creating a chamber version of the Suite of Porgy & Bess, traveled France in a stunning series of highly acclaimed tours.
In 1994, the Vice-President of J P Morgan in Paris caught wind of Maestro Wilkins’ research in Spanish music after hearing excerpts of his Dallas concerts. So taken was he with the quality of the music and performances that he proposed a concert of that music to the Radio Television Orchestra of Spain—a client—and thus introduced conductor and repertory to the Spanish nation with a concert and recording from the National Auditorium of Madrid. Short weeks later Wilkins began a second Fulbright in Madrid leading to the 1999 creation of the orchestra Madrid Barroco to play the opening of the Jubilee Year in Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral. The recording of that event is now heard on the CD Madrid 1752 on the Dorian label. Important milestones during the time in Spain include work on a new orchestration of the very successful Madrid production of Man of La Mancha (1999), his first collaboration with stage director Gustavo Tambascio, and then as editor of the 19th-century Catalan composer Ramón Carnicer's opera, Elena e Costantino, which was premièred in Madrid's Teatro Real, March 2005.
In recent years Wilkins has increasingly sought out collaborations: with Spanish Golden Age theater, through annual presentations on music, dance and sword play with the Association of Hispanic Classical Theater; co-producing Spanish Golden Age plays with Southern Methodist University and Booker T Washington theater departments; producing a world premier baroque opera Nuevas Armas de Amor (2013); collaborating with Spanish folkloric dance and flamenco artists in the production of the Rise of Flamenco: Lorca, Falla, Sorolla and...(2014); and again producing Villa y Corte, The Music of Goya (2015)