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Alla Balena Ensemble

  • Mexican Cultural Institute 2829 16th St. NW Washington, DC 20009 United States (map)

As part of its 2018 Music Series, La Música de México, the Mexican Cultural Institute is proud to present a recital of chamber music composed by Carlos Sánchez-Gutierrez by and performed by the Alla Balena Ensemble.

Formed in 2018 by composer Carlos Sánchez-Gutierrez (2018 Music Series curator), Alla Balena Ensemble brings together a group of superb and energetic musicians from the Eastman School of Music with a keen interest in the music of our time.

According to Sánchez-Gutierrez, the Ensemble takes its name from “large grey whales that live an average of 70 years. Following their death, a cycle begins and evolves over the years, as their carcasses descend toward the bottom of the sea, providing both nourishment and housing to hundreds of smaller species for several hundred years. A "dead" whale, therefore, far outlives a "living" one. What we call “classical music” is like a dead whale (it died around 1914...) and musicians today are like the hundreds of creatures that feed off a carcass. The tradition itself is defunct, but our unique ecosystems remain and thrive. We, therefore, proudly announce, "alla balena!”, or "into the whale!".

Members of the Alla Balena Ensemble:

Emilyn Johnson, flute
Tiffany Valvo, clarinet

Jacob Ertl, piano
Brant Blackard, percussion

Shannon Steigerwald, violin
Daniel Ketter, cello


Jed Gaylin, conductor
Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Artistic Director