Barreto to debut new original music with Atlanta Pops April 14 at OPAC

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Apr. 7—OXFORD — The Atlanta Pops' "Fiesta Orquesta" concert on April 14 at the Oxford Performing Arts Center will be an emotional one for its pianist who is usually hidden at the back of the orchestral stage.

For this performance, Julio Barreto will be out front with piano and some other instruments that helped fuel his passion for music and mirrors memories of his native land.

The OPAC director of music education and Pops' artist-in-residence will debut a new work featuring the rhythms and melodies of Latin America.

"I wanted to bring the joy I found in the music of my home country to my friends here in my adopted home," the native Argentinian said.

He describes the new pieces, which total almost 30 minutes, as a musical travelogue with more intricate side trips within each stop. They have taken almost two years for him to complete.

Barreto will be accompanied by an augmented Pops orchestra with additional percussion, brass, and saxophones; Spanish guitar; accordion and "world class musicians who have performed with the legends of Latin music."

"We debuted two of the pieces last summer," Barreto said. "Ninety percent of the pieces we will perform were either arranged by me or will be my original compositions with their world premiere."

The two previously performed pieces focusing on the "cha cha" and the "mambo" genres will have encore performances.

"I have also written different pieces highlighting different regions that have cultural relevance from Mexico to Antarctica," Barreto said. "The cultures are so vast it is impossible to feature all that amazing music in one concert."

Barreto has composed medleys representing the music of specific countries of Latin America.

"There is an 'Ode to Brazil" which is eight minutes long, but it takes you on a ride from the Carnivale to the Amazon," Barreto said.

"Mexico: Today and Always" is a representation of the musical culture that country has shared with the rest of the world and the United States.

"It is a Mariachi medley going through all the styles of that music going from the bolero to the Mexican hat dance," he said.

Those original pieces will be joined by Barreto's arrangements "of very well-known Latin music in the United States."

Barreto has also written a "Buenos Aires Medley" in honor of his home country.

"It's a collection of tangos showing that style of music's evolution from the late 19th century to the present," he said. "It is the music from my home country I love and respect so much. It reminds me of my first girlfriend and my first piano lesson. It's the music that comes naturally to me and I can enjoy without really thinking."

Barreto has been busy on the road touring with the Pops as well as a separate tour with Irish songstress and OPAC audience favorite Chloe Agnew.

"I am excited to finally be back home and have the opportunity to share the music I played when I was a kid," Baretto said. "This is really special that I get to premiere these works here at home for people that have been so warm, loving and accepting of me and my music."

Barreto said he has arranged all the pieces "to feature every section of the orchestra and the special guest artists."

"We are going to squeeze every drop from this world class orchestra," Baretto said.

The performance of the Atlanta Pops, under the direction of Maestro Jason Altieri and part of the Bernardi Pops Series, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 14, at the Oxford Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are available at the box office or online at

Staff Writer Brian Graves: 256-236-1551.