Flute on the Frontera
The British-American flautist Elena Durán is taking the flute beyond the constraining walls of the concert hall to bring the joy of music to disenfranchised communities across Mexico.
An internationally-regarded performing and recording artist, Elena was formerly the Artistic Director of the Stratford International Flute Festival. She now lives in Mexico where she is able to build on her passion for Mexican music, particularly the music of the golden age of Mexican cinema.
Since moving to Mexico City, Elena has established a distinctive musical career, playing as soloist with all the major Mexican orchestras (and some in the US), as well as developing her own touring multi-media shows. One of these, Mexico de mi Corazón which features the songs of three iconic Mexican tenors, Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante, and Javier Solis, as well as stories and excerpts from the golden age of Mexican cinema, received outstanding reviews at the Edinburgh Festival in 2008. Her most recent multi-media show is Amorcito Corazón, devoted to the music and movies of Manuel Esperón, who celebrates his centenary this year. The show is being premiered at the Guadalajara International Film Festival on 27 March and will be followed by a national tour.
Elena, who last year was named Mexico City’s Ambassador, has also developed a personal out-reach programme, Flauta sin Fronteras. This programme has taken her twice along the often-dangerous Mexican-American border, where she has played on both sides for the young, old, disadvantaged, disabled and homeless. She also takes her programme into Mexican gaols around the country. Elena’s work in gaols has attracted a great deal of positive attention and lies at the heart of her belief in taking music into communities of all kinds, where she makes a point of meeting and engaging personally with her audience. Elena says, “it takes a lot of time and emotional energy, but it always has a very positive effect.”
Next year, a US-Mexican television co-production will film Elena and her Flauta sin Fronteras project as she travels along the border. “The border is always portrayed in a negative light in the media,” Elena says. “This is an opportunity to make a ‘good news’ programme about this challenging area.”
Elena Durán will bring her vibrant flute playing and unique personal style back to the UK in July and August this year for a number of concert appearances around the country.
First published in FLUTE, March 2012. A pdf of the published version of this article is available here: Flute on the Frontera