DAY OF THE DEAD LIVE! Comes to Brooklyn Art Haus  in October

Performances run October 18 - November 1.

By: Sep. 20, 2023
DAY OF THE DEAD LIVE! Comes to Brooklyn Art Haus  in October

Day of the Dead LIVE! takes you on a musical journey that is all FUN, celebrating Día de los Muertos, the holiday of family remembrance. With diabolical music from classical and popular composers, Mexican and European, this is a one-hour piano and puppet performance boasting larger-than-life characters, including jugglers, stilt-walkers, ghosts, skeletons, and dancers. It’s a witty, wild, cultured romp and the ultimate family reunion — with dearly departed ancestors as the guests of honor!

Opening at the Brooklyn Art Haus in Williamsburg on Wednesday October 18th, with shows Wednesday through Saturday October 18th – October 28th at 6:00PM, plus Sundays October 22nd and 29th at noon, AND Halloween night Tuesday October 31st AND Día de los Muertos Wednesday November 1st (both at 6:00).  Tickets are priced at just $25 and can be purchased at

Day of the Dead LIVE! presents music for adults and children of all ages, plus delightful fantasies for the child in all of us.  Opening with Saint-Saen’ Danse Macabre; we travel from Dante’s Inferno to Paradiso in Liszt’s Dante Sonata; we hear popular songs of Mexican folk composers like Rubio and Velázquez; and rhapsodic compositions by Mexican classical composers like Chávez and Ponce (a little Bernstein, too!).  All animated by dancers, acrobats, and strange creatures! 

Our music is performed by the 26-year-old virtuoso pianist Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner. The merry life-sized puppets and direction from the circus-trained aerialist Juanita Cardenas.  The full cast includes Victor Ayala, Jean Tae Francis, Agave L’amour, Ryan Shinji Murray, Anthony Rodriguez, Tyler West, Lighting Design Kyle Driggs, Stage Manager Pher Gleason and Stagehand Audra Brandt.

Center stage is a festive candlelit ofrenda (family shrine), illuminated throughout the performance, where images of the cast’s family and Mexican revolutionaries appear, including Francisco "Pancho" Villa, Emiliano Zapata Salazar, and Cesar Chavez on horseback; the women soldiers known as Adelitas holding Mexican flags; artists Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, as well as the author and women's rights advocate, Juana Inés de la Cruz.

Ponce's Balada Mexicana rings in a final fête with ancestors and ghoulish creatures before they return to the underworld. The audience is invited to dance as Bernstein's Mambo! plays the curtain call.


SAINT-SAËNS Danse Macabre (arr. Liszt/Horowitz) 8’

PONCE Intermezzo 3’

RUBIO Jarabe Tapatío (arr. Earl Wild) 4’

VELÁZQUEZ Bésame Mucho (arr. Sanchez-Werner) 4’

LISZT Dante Sonata 12’

CHÁVEZ Hoja de Álbum 3’

PONCE Balada Mexicana (arr. Sanchez-Werner) 10’

BERNSTEIN Mambo! (arr. Sánchez-Werner) 3’



 Opening with Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre (1874), the composer imagined skeletons dancing at midnight.  Our version is arranged by two piano virtuosi: Liszt and Vladimir Horowitz. The phrase, Danse Macabre, made its first appearance during the plagues of the fourteenth century. Danse Macabre reminds us that death is not only inevitable, but also the great equalizer, claiming the high and mighty as well as the humble. 

Manuel Ponce was one of Mexico’s and Latin America’s most pivotal composers of the 20th century.  Known for his vibrant, idyllic, and enduring melodicism, as much as for his craftsmanship, he bridged the classical tradition, Mexican folk, and popular music. Ponce’s Intermezzo (1912) is one of his earlier works. Ponce’s passion for a Mexican nationalistic artistic movement co-existed with his love of older European music.

Jesús González Rubio’s Jarabe Tapatío, also known as the Mexican Hat Dance, is an embodiment of Cinco de Mayo celebrations.  But it goes much deeper; written in the early 1800’s during their War of Independence, it proclaimed opposition to Spanish colonialism. With origins in the State of Jalisco, the song again swept the country in the 20th century as a national dance of protest by Mexican revolutionaries.

Consuelo Velázquez was Mexican concert pianist and composer.  Her Bésame Mucho is famous internationally.  After being recorded by the Spanish-Mexican baritone Emilio Tuero, in 1944 Nat "King" Cole made its first English adaptation. From then on, it was interpreted and performed by hundreds of artists around the world including Pedro Infante, Javier Solís, The Beatles, Plácido Domingo, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Luis Mariano (who popularized it in France), Dalida, Xavier Cugat, The Ventures, Antonio Machín, Lucho Gatica, Vera LynnAndrea Bocelli, José Carreras, Ray Conniff, Diana Krall, and Zoé. Translated into more than 20 languages, part of its appeal was among women waiting for husbands during the second world war.

Franz Liszt’s Après une Lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi-Sonata, often referred to as The Dante Sonata, is a musical portrayal of the Divine Comedy, an example of the composer’s love of literature—and gives us visions of ghouls, ghosts, and trumpeting angels. A thrilling epic that musically depicts the journey from the depths of the hellish Inferno, through Purgatory, onto the heavenly Paradiso.

Carlos Chávez, probably the most important Mexican composer of the 20th Century, was a lifelong friend of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Aaron Copland, Arthur Rubinstein, and Igor Stravinsky. Chávez founded the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted the New York Philharmonic, wrote his Symphony No. 6 as a commission by Bernstein for the opening of Lincoln Center, presented Norton Lectures at Harvard, and, in performances he curated at the Museum of Modern Art, programmed his own music to pair with Kahlo’s paintings. We present his Hoja de Álbum 3’.

Manuel Ponce was one of Mexico’s and Latin America’s most pivotal composers in the 20th century.  In his rhapsodic Balada Mexicana, Ponce intricately weaves in the tender melodies of two Mexican folk songs: Acuérdate de mi, which translates to “Remember Me,” and the sensuous El durazno, or “The Peach.”  Another admirer of great literature, Ponce regularly set poems to music. He carried on a distinguished pedagogical lineage as the musical descendent of Beethoven and Liszt: Beethoven taught Czerny, who taught Liszt, who taught Martin Krause, who taught Ponce. In turn, Ponce would go on to instruct Carlos Chávez.

Leonard Bernstein personifies the spirit of globalism. He introduced an entire generation of children to the joys of classical music with engaging warmth in his 53 “Young People’s Concerts,” and he performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, with its theme of universal brotherhood and love, in both West and East Berlin shortly before the Berlin Wall fell. To end the program because it is such fun, “Mambo” from “West Side Story.” Mambo refers to the Cuban-Mexican swinging dance music of the late 1930’s, and we hope that it leaves you dancing and in festive spirits.


Wednesday, October 18, 2023 - 6pm

Thursday, October 19, 2023 - 6pm

Friday, October 20, 2023 - 6pm

Saturday, October 21, 2023 - 6pm

Sunday, Oct 22, 2023 - 2pm

Wednesday, October 25, 2023 - 6pm

Thursday, October 26, 2023 - 6pm

Friday, October 27, 2023 - 6pm

Saturday, Oct 28, 2023 - 6pm

Sunday, Oct 29, 2023 - 2pm

Tuesday, October 31, 2023 - 6pm (Halloween)

Wednesday, Nov 1, 2023 - 6pm (Day of the Dead)


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