Concert Review | Under the Marcano Sun: A Warm Welcome for Glass Marcano


In the field of music, brilliance can strike anyone of even the most humble origins. Glass Marcano, a 27-year-old Venezuelan conductor, used to sell fruit. In a dramatic and heroic rise to the top, she won the Orchestra Prize in the 2020 edition of the La Maestra conducting competition. 

Marcano made her Canadian debut in Montreal with the Orchestre Métropolitain, leading four consecutive sold-out shows. A multi-faceted woman, she is also a lawyer and a rapper. In the male-dominated field of conducting, Marcano is a breath of fresh air. On the program was music reminiscent of her heritage and history. Under Marcano’s Sun consisted of pieces from Mexican and South American composers, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. 

Before and between pieces, actor Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon recited Latin American and Canadian poems by Caroline Dawson, Yvonne América Truque, and Flavia Garcia. Marcano led the orchestra in a few Latin American pieces — Festive Overture by Chilean Juan Orrego-Salas, Janitzio by Mexican Silvestre Revueltas, and Huapango by José Pablo Moncayo. Huapango’s fun rhythms and interesting use of percussion (such as the güiro) were especially impressive. 

Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon, Photo by Denis Germain c/o Orchestre Métropolitain

What you missed: 

Festive Overture and Janitzio were played commendably, though at times in Festive Overture the brass sounded a little muddy and the percussion drowned out other melodies. Marcano conducted in a decisive, martial — though still expressive — manner. She could have brought more balance to the tone and intensity of various sections. Janitzio contained a lovely duet between the clarinet and bassoon, as well as better volume contrast than the first piece. Towards the end, the orchestration became more chaotic. Though Janitzio was conducted and played well, Huapango was more successful.  

Huapango was a lively piece, well suited to the quick and complex dance of the same name. Marcano conducted the orchestra delightfully, drawing out the best sounds of each solo instrument. The harp was particularly pleasant, its duet with the trumpet was played beautifully and nimbly. The brass provided contrast in later sections, with Marcano leading their triumphant one-note crescendos. While the güiro sprinkled in a fun triplet beat, the marimba’s glissandos added a sparkling touch. 

Then came the most anticipated piece of the night — Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. This piece threw her into the 2021 Victoires de la Musique spotlight when she conducted it in the final round of the competition, earning her great fame and acclaim. She created effective anticipation by holding her pauses and increased the tempo and volume of the orchestra well during the first movement. Though the horns — a big emphasis of the piece — were occasionally quieter than necessary, they played well and their triplets created good contrast with the double basses. 

The second movement was smooth, with Marcano pacifying the orchestra, decreasing the volume sharply. Chords pulsed throughout the piece, detached and accented as the flutes trilled above the strings. The third movement did not elicit as strongly the hazy drunken narrative mentioned in the program, though I found the frantic plucked start from the strings fascinating. Again, I found the horns to be a tad soft but like the rest of the brass section, they played steadily with well-detached staccato notes. 

The fourth movement was absolutely beautiful — the explosive introduction never fails to surprise listeners. Powerful entrances from the cymbals, timpani and bass drum reverberated throughout while melodious calls and harmonious answers conversed between other sections. Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony allows all instruments to shine, and Marcano did a great job coaxing out their potential. Throughout the concert, Marcano held a wide stance and used sharp and precise gestures. It was here in the finale that she seemed to be the most animated, leaning into the orchestra she so dutifully led. This moment epitomized Marcano’s conducting choices, and she did not disappoint. 

Photo by Denis Germain, c/o Orchestre Métropolitain

After such an energizing conclusion, it was only right that her encore piece maintain the buzz in the hall. She called us all onto our feet, counting to four in Spanish and instructing us to yell “cinco” in time. She and the orchestra leapt into Popurri “Perez Padro,” a medley of the famous mambo composer’s pieces: “Que Rico Mambo,” “Ruletero,” “Mambo No. 5” and “Mambo No. 8.” The medley was fast and upbeat, full of Latin American elements in which the percussion section and trumpets shone. The piece’s energy was infectious, reflected in a ‘wave’ style motion where sections of the orchestra jumped up with their instruments in the air, chanting their respective numbers before our turn. Marcano even conducted our clapping until eventually her sneaky thumbs up and approving looks back into the audience were met with laughter and on-rhythm claps. To anyone who may have been at the Maison Symphonique that night, I am desperately seeking the name of that piece to add to my playlists. It was a brilliant way to end the concert — fun, interactive, and insanely memorable. One thing was clear: we were all certainly standing under Marcano’s sun that night, and she was truly radiant.

For more on the Orchestre Métropolitain:


About Author

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.