Hall of the Palacio de Bellas Artes
This stipulation was fulfilled in a number of ways. Eduardo Mata, a Mexican, was appointed principal conductor and technical director. A festival orchestra was formed, drawing on the best manpower of several Mexican symphonies ( from Mexico City, Vera Cruz, Jalapa, Guadalupe, Toluca), beefed up by some imported players (about twenty-five percent) : Mexican salaries were raised to match the fees paid the outsiders. The ensemble was proud to be called the Orquesta Pablo Casals de Mexico – the only orchestra to bear the maestro’s name since the one he himself founded in Barcelona in 1919. In addition to frequent concerts in Mexico City, under Mata and the guest conductors, it performed five concerts in the provinces while the London Symphony was in the capital. And, in possibly the widest-ranging gesture of all, the festival authorities saw to it that the programs were carried on radio and television throughout the country – broadcast for forty-nine towns and reaching an estimated two million people. Understandably enough, local Mexico City television directors, not particularly accustomed to working within a concert format, quailed slightly at an undertaking of this magnitude. To ensure the best possible presentation, the festival brought in the prize-winning New-York television director Allen Miller, who spent six advance weeks in Mexico training TV crews, and kept a close watch on production during the run of the concerts. Costs for the festival were met from three sources: one-third government funding, one-third private donations, one-third box-office.
Church of Tepotzotlán
It all added up to a heady three-weeks-plus. Concerts were held in the city’s somewhat ramshackle Palacio de Bellas Artes – all Napoleonic grandeur on the outside and decaying art-deco inside – and were repeated at very low prices in the 3,500 – seat Teatro Metropolitan, a movie theater, where crowds lined up for tickets. One of the Guarneri Quartet performances took place in the dazzling bright-gold rococo interior of a restored Jesuit church in Tepotzotlán, an hour’s drive out of town. The festival repertory (skirting Mexico composers like the plague – a matter that would bear some adjustment in the future) was solid and middle of the road – a Mahler Fourth with the Pablo Casals Orchestra under Mata, the Brahms Violin Concerto with stern, Wagner excerpts with Jess Thomas, all-Beethoven and all-Tchaikovsky programs by the LSO, with Istomin and Zukerman as soloists, respectively.