Houston snags a salsa music coup with Olga Tañon’s first-ever symphonic concert as she joins the Houston Latin American Philharmonic Orchestra this weekend.
The musica tropical superstar has been asked to join other symphony orchestras before but never felt moved to do so. When Latin Phil Music Director Glenn Garrido asked this time, Tañon agreed. “When they offered me the chance to do this, I said yes, this is the moment to do it.”
A Puerto Rican singer-songwriter, Tanon has had an incredible career that spans 25 years. With two Grammy and four Latin Grammy award wins, 28 top 10 hits on Billboard Tropical charts (a record for a female artist), 38 singles on various other Billboard charts, five Premios ASCAP, along with seven Gold and five Platinum albums, she’s definitively amassed an international audience.
Expect hits “Es Mentiroso,” “Muchacho Malo,” “Como Olvidar,” and “Bandolero” to be performed. “Obviously, they’re hits that people will recognize,” she says. “Some merengue, of course.”
She hints that tunes from her landmark 1996 album Nuevos Senderos, produced by Mexican singer-songwriter Marco Antonio Solis, will be on the program. “The album by Marco Antonio Solis, which he produced for me almost 25 years ago, those songs like 'Basta Ya,' 'Mi Eterno Amor Secreto,' I’ve never stopped singing those songs.”
Tañon has penned several of her own hits, but she hasn’t been involved in writing the arrangements she’ll use for the Houston show. Those are being done by the Latin Phil. She’s heard them, though.
“I spent the afternoon crying while I was listening because it’s a very emotional experience for me,” she explains. “When you hear that sort of orchestra, it’s very impressive. All the more, when they’re playing your own music.”
Tañon is known for her merengue songs, wonderfully danceable tunes that make it almost impossible to sit still. And she expects her Houston audience to dance.
“Even though this is a symphonic concert, that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to dance. I know this is going to be in a symphony hall, but if they don’t get up, I’ll get them up! I don’t have a problem with that,” she says laughing.
This isn’t the first time the orchestra has presented a salsa artist; Gilberto Santa Rosa appeared with the Latin Phil in a sold-out show in 2018. No doubt director Garrido and the Latin Phil would like similar results with Tañon. But Santa Rosa appeared in the Wortham Center’s smallish Cullen Theater. Tañon will be performing at Jones Hall, a significantly larger venue. Still, if Garrido’s worried, Tañon, who’s currently on her The One and Only Show world tour, is not.
“I’ve been telling people, ‘This is only going to happen in Houston. If you want to see it, you have to come to Houston.’ I have people coming in from Panama to see the show, from all over.”
October 19. Tickets from $29. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana St. 832-487-7041. More info and tickets at houstonlatinphil.org.