Pianist Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner will play Friday night, February 10th, at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, in conjunction with an ongoing exhibition dedicated to the Mexican artist and revolutionary, Frida Kahlo.
Since November, “Kahlo: An Expanded Body,” has inhabited multiple galleries within the Parrish, focusing on the artist’s life-long struggle with chronic pain. Depictions of her physical and emotional suffering can be seen by viewers through objects such as postcards, letters and medical records juxtaposed with myriad multi-disciplinary art forms.
After performing at the Parrish several months ago, Sanchez-Werner, a California-born and Manhattan-bred classically trained concert pianist expressed interest in performing in conjunction with the Kahlo exhibit.
“Consider it a mapping of her life, but with the addition of sound,” the Upper West Side resident says of his upcoming performance.
Divided into three parts, the concert’s selected musical pieces include those firmly rooted in the Latino culture, while some are more ubiquitous and familiar. The common denominator is how they all reflect Kahlo’s own personal ideologies, specifically in terms of her affection and pride for her beloved home country, and her innate desire for exploration. The majority of the concert’s music was written by Mexican composers, with this hour-long performance including works from Jesus Gonzalez Rubio, Manuel Ponce and Carlos Chavez—a close friend of both Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera.
“We needed to find pieces that were symbolic of her travels,” Sanchez-Werner says. “To begin, we needed to feature composers that were contemporary to her.”
The concert starts with music inspired by Mexican revolutionaries during the country’s war against Spain in 1812. Guests can expect to hear indigenous-style composition, displaying themes of war, revolution and colonialism, all similar motifs explored within Kahlo’s own work.
For the concert’s second segment, Sanchez-Werner will perform pieces from Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, French composer Claude Debussy and American musician Leonard Bernstein.
Signifying Kahlo’s journey to the United States, Sanchez-Werner will play Bernstein’s “Mambo,” most famously featured in West Side Story. Named for the dance native to Mexico and Cuba, guests can enjoy a melodic blending of jazz and Latin rhythms.
“America was a very important country for her,” he says, “so it’s very fitting to be included.” Coinciding with Kahlo’s experiences in Europe, Sanchez-Werner will play selections from Debussy and Prokofiev. “The idea here is to experience some of the biggest travels of her life,” he says.
The concert culminates with Kahlo’s return to Mexico after traveling abroad and features Sanchez-Werner’s interpretation of the 1940 classic pop song “Besame Mucho,” by composer Consuelo Velazquez. Ending the program will be two pieces from Ponce, highlighting Kahlo’s roots and celebrating Mexican folklore.
A self-described “German, Welsh, Mexican Jew,” Sanchez-Werner says he’s grateful to be performing this week at the Parrish. A graduate of both Juilliard and Yale, the 26-year-old has played piano all over the world, performing in France, Amsterdam, Abu Dhabi, Czech Republic and Spain, to name a few. (To learn more about Sanchez-Werner’s impressive accolades, click here.)
“Any time there’s a marriage of different art forms like this,” he says of the performance, “magic is possible.”
The concert is from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., while the Kahlo exhibit will be up until April 2nd. Advance ticket purchase is recommended. Tickets are $25 for Parrish members, $35 for nonmembers, $20 for students and $10 for kids.
The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Hwy. in Water Mill, 631-283-2118.