Maestro Norman Scribner, Artistic Director of the Choral Arts Society,

Ms. Debra Kraft, Executive Director of the Choral Arts Society,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you to the Mexican Cultural Institute and to this reception in honor of El Niño, a Nativity oratorio written by the great American composer John Adams.

Originally commissioned to celebrate the new millennium, El Niño not only allows us to enjoy the masterly music of Adams —who, together with Philip Glass, is one of the best known American composers of his generation— but also serves as an introduction to some of the best Iberoamerican poetry. Among the authors highlighted in this wonderful work by Adams and that we will get a taste of tonight are Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and Rosario Castellanos, two superb Mexican poets of the highest standing in the literary world.

It is no exaggeration to claim that with El Niño we find ourselves before an artistic creation and a cultural event of grand proportions. In the first place, it is noteworthy that one of the jewels of the repertoire of a great American artist has been inspired by Iberoamerican, and specifically Mexican, poetry. Secondly, the work in question will be interpreted by one of most prestigious choral organizations in the world —the Choral Arts Society of Washington, DC— on the 18th of May at the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As such, the presentation of El Niño this coming Sunday will provide Mexico and Mexican culture with a powerful and inspiring voice, as well as exemplifying the intense artistic and cultural dialogue between Mexico and the United States.

Historically, much of Mexico’s international prestige and reputation has been built primarily on its cultural and artistic vitality. I am convinced that in a rapidly changing world, culture and the arts will continue to be the best letter of introduction for our country abroad, encouraging an even deeper understanding between Mexico and the United States. Works like El Niño are living proof of the close communication and creative exchange between both our countries, an interaction that is especially rich in the arts, and which, at this sublime level, invariably leads to what James Joyce in A Portrait of an Artist called an “epiphany”— that is, illumination, revelation, enlightenment.

Let us thus allow ourselves to be enlightened this evening with the music of John Adams and the poetry of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Rosario Castellanos.

Thank you and I hope you enjoy the evening.