Pianist Fred Sturm
has specialized in the music of Latin America, and of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos in particular, for over twenty-five years. During the past decade, he has turned his attention to the music of Mexican composers, with special emphasis on the music of Federico Ibarra, performing all of Ibarra’s works over a series of concerts devoted to music of Mexico and Spain. In spring of 2012, he completed a project recording the works of Ibarra, with the CD Federico Ibarra, Music for Piano, released on September 30, 2012.
In response to that recording, Ibarra wrote, “In your recording I find a complete understanding of the pieces with respect to form, and what a variety of colors you draw from the instrument! Your tone faithfully captures the thought, and I find your control of dynamics faithful to the score from the violent volcanic eruptions of some movements to the tasteful irony and elegance of Sonata 0. In sum, I thank you deeply for your interpretation of my music.”
Also in spring of 2012 Sturm organized a four-concert festival devoted to Villa-Lobos’ musical the University of New Mexico, celebrating the composer’s 125th birthday, in which he performed both as a solo pianist and in various ensembles. Video from those concerts can be found on a YouTube channel called VillaLobos125, with separate playlists for concerts of February 19, 2012, March 5, 2012, and March 18, 2012.
In 2016, he organized a two-concert chamber festival of music by Ibarra at UNM, videos of which can also be found in a YouTube playlist. He has recently turned his attention to piano works of Arturo Márquez, Alejandro Rutty, and Mario Carro among others.
"He plays the music of Ibarra as if he were writing it on the spot. It is rare to hear a musician so inhabited by the material." Peter Burwasser, Fanfare Magazine
“Sturm plays this varied repertoire with relish, sensitivity, and an individual response to each composer. Energetic and rhythmically adroit in extroverted music, he doesn’t dawdle or break the flow in slow or languid measures but uses beautifully gauged rubatos, ritardandos, dynamics, and colorful pedaling to express the composers’ thoughts. He’s stylistically flexible, performing everything from Ibarra to Granados with finesse and fine attention to detail without imperiling the grand design.” Robert Schulslaper, Fanfare Magazine