According to Mexican Folklore, “La Catrina” - also known as death - can show herself in many different ways. Sometimes she is dressed in a rather elaborate, festive way. Sometimes she appears before us in “bare bones,” to take us away when we least expect it. Generally, however, the relationship which the Mexican people have with La Catrina, is defined by a unique set of circumstances, intimately tied with the history and culture of Mexico. Death in Mexico is thought of as a welcome guest on certain very important occasions, such as the Day of the Dead, or “día de los fieles difuntos.” As Mexicans, we believe that death, and specifically the memory of our “fieles difuntos,” which literally means “our faithful deceased,” gives us a strong sense of identity and rootedness in our culture. This conspicuous - and perennial - guest is paradoxically also associated with the joy of life in the face of the imminence and inevitability of death. We only live once and La Catrina, with her mischievous smile, pleads with us to seize the moment and through music - and perhaps a little dance - find life’s meaning.
Born in Mexico City, Daniel Vega-Albela started studying violin with Yuriko Kuronuma. At fifteen, he won silver medal in the first National Violin Competition in Mexico City. At sixteen, he traveled to New York City, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from the Mannes College of Music, under the guidance of Sally Thomas. He has played with many ensembles in the United States, such as the St. Cecilia Chamber Orchestra and the Western New York Chamber Players. He has toured Japan and Mexico, and has had many appearances as soloist with different orchestras throughout Mexico. He has also worked with several chamber and symphony orchestras in Mexico, such as the Orquesta de Cámara de Morelos, the Camerata de Torreón, and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería.
From 1994 to 1997, he was instructor of violin at the Academia Yuriko Kuronuma in Mexico City, and in 1997, he joined the Conservatorio de las Rosas to teach violin performance and to play with their new music ensemble, the Ensamble de las Rosas. From 2001 to 2003, he was violin Instructor at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. His devotion to teaching has already yielded some important results: he is featured in the 2004 and 2005 edition of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
Mr. Vega-Albela holds a Master of violin performance degree from Western Michigan University, and a Master of chamber music degree from Kent State University, where he studied with Renata Artman Knific and Ivan Chan, respectively.
The Founder and Artistic Director of the Nuevo Mundo Festival and Academy, has a recognized career in prestigious scenarios such as the Chamber Society of Philadelphia, 92Y- Kaufmann Concert Hall (NY, USA), Chamber Music Society of Detroit, National Gallery of Art (Washington DC, USA), Bolivar Hall (London, UK), Teatro Teresa Carreño (Caracas, Venezuela).
Simón Gollo is a gifted and committed pedagogue who keeps a very busy teaching schedule. This includes invitations to teach masterclasses around the world. He is regularly invited by professor Naoko Tanaka to the precollege department of Julliard School of Music in N.Y.
Award-winning Swiss-Venezuelan violinist, Simon Gollo, earned degrees from the Conservatoire de Musique de Geneve, Switzerland and the Conservatoire Superieur et Academie de Musique Tibor Varga in Sion, Switzerland. His teachers include Gyula Stuller Concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne, Patrick Genet from the Sine Nomine Quartet, Anne Bauer from the Conservatoire de Musique Neuchâtelois, and violinist Gabor Takacs. Mr. Gollo has also participated in masterclasses given by members of the Amadeus, Bartok, and Sine Nomine Quartets as well as violin masters Alexander Kerr, Naoko Tanaka, Tibor Varga, Ana Chumachenko and Igor Bezrodny.
Since 2012 Simón Gollo has been a member of the Dali String Quartet, and he is regularly invited by the St. Luke's Orchestra in NY and several chamber music ensembles as Classical Jam, Camerata Nordica, International Chamber Soloists for tours and concerts given at the Carnegie hall in NYC or Cadogan Hall (London, UK – BBC Proms Festival).
In 2015 Simón Gollo joined La Catrina String Quartet.
Born in Torreón, Mexico, Jorge Martínez Ríos studied viola at the Conservatorio de las Rosas, where he graduated with honors under the tutelage of professor Gela Dubrova. Mr. Martínez has performed across the US and Mexico in some of the most prestigious concert venues, such as Carnegie Hall in New York, Meany Hall's World Series in Seattle, Chicago Center for the Arts, Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, just to mention a few.
He has been principal and assistant principal viola for different orchestras in Mexico and the US, like the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería, the Camerata de Coahuila, the Orquesta de Cámara de Michoacán, the Western Piedmont Symphony and the Las Cruces Symphony.
Most recently, Mr. Martínez was invited by CONACULTA (the National Council for Culture and Art in Mexico) to record chamber works of José Pablo Moncayo, including a string trio and the sonata for viola and piano with acclaimed Mexican pianist Guadalupe Parrondo. This recording was made to celebrate the composer's 100th anniversary. He has also recorded music by Mexican composer Germán Romero under the Quindecim recording label; Angelwings, a CD of music by contemporary composers from Ohio; and the Francisco Mignone Seresta for double quartet in collaboration with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano for the Sono Luminus label.
Currently, Mr. Martinez is Assistant Professor of Viola at New Mexico State University and keeps a busy schedule touring and teaching.
Jorge Espinoza was awarded the Gregor Piatigorsky Full Scholarship to study and teach at the Peabody Conservatory of Music the undergraduate and graduate cello studio as an assistant teacher of Stephen Kates. He holds a Graduate Performance Diploma in Violoncello and a Graduate Performance Diploma in Chamber Music from Peabody Conservatory of Music, studying with Stephen Kates, David Hardy, and Andrés Díaz.
He graduated with honors from Universidad Católica de Chile and received his Master's Degree in Music Performance on full scholarship from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh , studying with David Premo and Anne Martindale Williams. Previous teachers include Jorge Román, Laszlo Varga, Dennis Parker, Marcio Carneiro.
His passion for teaching cello and coaching chamber music groups has brought him to present masterclasses and workshops in the United States and abroad, including at the Third International Seminar Portuguesa-Acarigua, Venezuela, part of El Sistema.
Mr. Espinoza's orchestral experience has included performances at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony and orchestras and chamber ensembles in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Symphony Hall. He has been a featured soloist and chamber musician, performing concertos, solo and chamber music recitals in his native land, Chile, and throughout South America, the United States, Europe and Mexico.
He is a prizewinner of international and national competitions and awards including the Maryland State Arts Council Solo Instrumental Performance Award and Peabody Career Development Grants.
An avid chamber musician, his interest in researching, performing and arranging folk music from Latin America for string quartet and chamber ensembles has brought him to different cities in South America including Buenos Aires to pursue studies with great tango masters including Maestros Osvaldo Berlingieri, Mauricio Marcelli, Osvaldo Requena and Julián Plaza.