Ahmed Anzaldua is a Mexican pianist/conductor who lives in Kalamazoo. In 2014, he visited Mexico to perform in one of the country's most prominent music festivals, and the presenters surprised him with an offer to fund a musical recording of his choice.
Even though the offer was unexpected, Anzaldua knew right away what he wanted to do: record the piano music of Mexican composer Miguel Bernal Jiménez (1910 - 1956), most of which has never been recorded before.
In this interview, he explains to Cara Lieurance why Jiménez's music is important and about the process of making the album. Here is his artist statement, which accompanies the album (available on Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes):
The music of Miguel Bernal Jiménez has become an essential part of my identity. I must admit that I did not know his works when I was younger, and discovering his music wasn't immediately revealing. I listened to his piano music for the first time when I was a student at Las Rosas Conservatory, and I played some of his works simply to cover the requisite Mexican repertoire that was required from all piano students. It was until later, when I encountered his music again while living abroad that I was captivated by his sonority, brush strokes that combine humor with nostalgia, profoundly Mexican without falling into stereotypes and clichés. Having conversations with those who knew Bernal Jiménez personally and observing his legacy in the city of Morelia let me gradually get to know a person that became ever more familiar and beloved. As a human being, I cannot imagine a more agreeable person, more modest while at the same time so gifted. It was this that led me to include his works in my concert programs, the need to share my love for this music and this great composer with my audiences. This recording would not have been possible without the generous support of Daniel Guyette and Bradley Wong at the Western Michigan School of Music and of Verónica Bernal and the Festival de Música de Morelia Miguel Bernal Jiménez. I am honored to have the opportunity to record this music, as well as surprised that until now most of these works have not been recorded professionally. My hope is that this recording will, in some way, contribute towards sharing Bernal Jiménez' legacy and that it will inspire a new generation of pianists to explore and record their own interpretations of these wonderful works.