Alboroque for Solo Clarinet and Concert Band Alboroque 2012
2nd Place Mention of Honor / National Composition Contest Ministry of Culture of Colombia 2012
As a homage to Luis Eduardo "Lucho" Bermudez in his 100th birthday
performed by "Lunatics at Large", choreography by Vanessa Ascanio The compositional process of this work has been carefully initiated while envisioning a dancer on stage. The score is demarked by contrast in dynamics, tempos and textures deliberately announced by particular cues that allow the dancer’s respond to the sound, making the human-movement the main purpose of the piece. Its harmonic and melodic material is all derivate from a twelve-tone row structured by four identical trichords with diatonic implications (025).
Segmentos for Guitar and Chamber Ensemble Nilko Andreas, guitar - Chia-Ching Mao, flute - William Wheeler, clarinet - Dani Sametz, violin - Jennifer Johnson, violin - Andrew Borkowski, cello - Harold Gutiérrez , conductor
I initiated myself in the serious task of writing for guitar, approaching it with a fair sense of prudence and care. After facing the issues typical of the notation, in addition to my limitations concerning not being a guitar player myself, I have realized that this instrument is definitely a world of its own. In spite of the guitar repertoire being extensive enough for the development of a technique within a classical context, it is not common to find a work for solo guitar in a contemporary concert program. However, here we are: doing our part, taking our first step with all the enthusiasm and energy required.
Segmentos is a work designed with rhythmic elements found in Latin-American music. Its harmonic and melodic content is generally based on the dyad A-G# used in a variety of settings, but its form is still uncertain. The piece displays the material for an eventual larger work, a Guitar Concerto.
Bajo CopiapóPerformed by Dynamic Motion String Quartet.
"Bajo Copiapó" for string quartet was composed during the first weeks of August 2010 as a reaction to the unfortunate event in the San José Mine (about 45 kilometers [28 miles] north of Copiapó Chile) in which 33 miners got trapped underground after the copper-gold mine collapsed. The miners were trapped for sixty-nine days at approximately 700 meters (2,300 ft) deep.
The piece is designed with motives that intent to portrait the situation. Lower open strings in fifths and descending glissandos portrait the underground circumstances, while the constantly pizzicato of the cello draws the meaning of being a miner. The middle section evokes the South American rhythmic patterns found in the Chilean Cueca dance. The dance is preceded by a quiet and peaceful adagio in choral style that connects back to the main motives in a manner of recapitulation.
Sextet III. Presto
This Sextet for woodwinds and piano explores the properties of the octatonic scale as generator of large harmonic areas. In an exercise of strict academicism the composer sets his harmonic language to the octatonic scale, “a mode of limited transposition" (as labelled by Olivier Messiaen), in its purest form what creates a sense of pitch centricity that is not tonally functional. As a product of any two diminished seventh chords, any octatonic scale projects the minor thirds and the tritons as prominent intervals, which translates into music as a particular colour sound full of diminished harmonies that most of the time do not resolve into a consonance.
The Allegro energico that opens the sextet presents right from the beginning, in a very determined way, a series of tritons that imply diminished harmonies never resolved. This passage seems a metaphor of the difficulties and challenges that the composer sets for himself in this piece as he walks into the entrance of this “octatonic labyrinth." The opening material will appear again several times throughout the movement as a reminder to the listener of the difficulties during the compositional process with a restricted collection of pitches.
The tension (distress, anguish) created in this first movement is not fully dissipated in the Adagio dolente-Andande misterioso, on the other hand, it is disguised in the manner of an ostinato bass line on the bassoon and piano. An “infinite trill" in the piano interrupts the ostinato figure, but it might be just another characterization of the obsession that this labyrinth has become for the composer.
The last movement is based on the Colombian pasillo, and represents the cultural and musical stamp of the composer to the work. In comparison to the high-voltage first movement, and the repetitive tango rhythm ad infinitum of the second movement, this movement represents a more relaxed approach to the octatonic sound, as if the composer had accepted his fate as prisoner in the labyrinth or had just found a solution.
David Gracia MM Musicology
Queens College, New York
Bordon Juga y Chigualo
Performed by Second Instrumental Unit from Juilliard School
This work is another attempt to explore Colombian music. I strongly believe that for a musician, it is crucial to observe, to study and to understand his or her own cultural background; this discernment provides important foundation for any type of artistic work.
Bordon, Juga y Chigualo are three important elements of the Afro-Colombian music from the isolated Pacific coast of the country. This region of Colombia is extremely rich in its musical expression in which the African marimba, hand drums (conuno) rain-stick (guasa) and clarinet (mostly at the northern area) provide an especial sonority. However, many communities from the Pacific Coast of Colombia are sadly considerate by the UNESCO as the poorest of America.
Bordon refers to a functional harmonic-rhythmic pattern played in the lower register of the diatonic marimba; it is used to support the main melodies in different styles from the southern areas of the Pacific Coast.
The Juga is a variation of the Currulao, the principal musical style from the Pacific Coast. It has many religious implications mostly related to the Nativity and other Christian Catholic Holidays. The Juga maintains ternary patterns in the percussion and melodies based on responsorial chants.
The Chigualo is the ritual during the funeral of a child. People from the Pacific Coast believed that a child who has died (commonly by starvation or diseases) becomes an angel. So, despite their lost they do not experience children’s dead as a tragedy. The funeral evokes the ascension of the child to Heaven while they sing Arrullos (Lullabies) using modal and binary patterns.
This piece has been written in homage to all people from the Colombian Pacific Coast who day by day face the struggle for survive, while been ignored by their government.
LIMBICO for Alto Saxophone and Fixed Media
Our conception of time is complex and unfortunately uncertain. Time, as we understand it, seems to be a property that belongs exclusively in our planet and its relations to the universe. However, we framed our existence in periods of time; life is conditioned by unchangeable biological facts and relative to the pass of time. As humans, we are inscribed into societies defined by systematic ways of organization. Unfortunately, very often, these societies attempt against others challenging the existence of other humans. We may observe daily, men destroying men. It goes against any natural attempt of species-conservation.
“Limbico" refers to de Limbic System of the human brain; there is contained a complex of neural functions that allow us to react for our self-preservation in dangerous moments. “Limbico" is abstractions of time in which the last seconds of a life destroyed by other life, are extended in order to observe the anatomical functions (mainly neural) struggling for survive. This piece is a scream of protest against all forms of violence in our current; it denounces how fragile we are and how easy we destroy our selves.
Sonata I. Allegro energico
David Gracia, piano
Sonata II. Adagio cantabile
David Gracia, piano
Sonata III. Allegro con picardia
David Gracia, piano
Three Colombian Dances
I. Torbellino II. Cancion III. Joropo
Blanca Gonzalez – Violin
David Gracia - Piano
The music in Latin-American is a result of the mixture of cultures.
Here we have three short pieces inspired by the traditional airs of Colombia. In this dances you can feel the history and the mixture of races that occurred in the continent that makes Colombian music so diverse and unique at the same time.
The composer’s approach to this dances that is however not only that of the folkloric or popular elements but the use of complex harmonic progressions , advances contrapuntal techniques and melodies influenced by his own experiences more than rigorously fulfill all the necessities of the tradition. It leaves an open window to the composers own personality and originality. The structural sense is founded in the use of traditional forms of the classical composition; the rhythm however is more constant, which is crucial when we are writing dances.
The Torbellino has very strong indigenous ancestry that is marked because its rhythmic cells. After an introduction in 4/4 which give us the context of the European harmonies; then we see the marked rhythm of torbellino mixing the 6/8 , 3/4 meters combined with some harmonies that show the composers impressionistic influences and also some piano gestures that are reminiscences of French art songs (chanson).
Cancion, is a sung tune, rather than danced; it is exclusively vocal (singing with no music), here we can hear the lyrical melody of the guabina with the composer’s touch, also there are some dramatic elements when the violin starts with the pizzicatos, creating a dramatic balance, and then we hear very clearly the guabina marked by the bass figure in the piano we can also hear the influenced of the European waltz when we have the accented downbeat typical of this rhythm, after the middle section with a stronger character we have the recapitulation bringing us back to the delicacy, simpleness and beauty of the guabina.
Joropo , Its name comes from the Arabian term xärop, meaning jarabe (syrup), for its Andalucian or Flemish origin, which is notorious in the clog dancing and in the acute-tone voice tempering, suspending the obliged compass. A variety of joropo has descriptive and lovely lyrics; it is commonly seen today using the
harp instead of the mandolin, which was a must in the joropo recio (strong variety of joropo). It is a wild dance where the rhythm is very important for this effect the composer has started with the pizzicatos on the violin, so that we can hear clearly the characteristic accents of the dance, the melody also refers to the human voice with longer notes in contrast with the staccato quality of the piano that moves constantly. It also shows the alternation 6/8, 3/4 meter, typical of this mixture of rhythms, we hear the melody written in sixteen notes implying a 6/8 meter combined at the same time with two quarter notes on the bass written in 3/4.
Here we have three different dances with lots of elements in common, evolution of folklore, perpetuation of tradition, fusion of the popular Latin-American elements with the European school? Or just Mr. Gutierrez music, but nevertheless, a
fine addition to the repertoire.
Nilko Andreas Guarin
BM, MM, Manhattan School of Music
New York Octobet 2009