Chamber Works

 

SOLEDAD (2018)

For alto sax, percussion, and electronics.

Program note:

During the initial stages when writting this piece, I was looking for ways to connect with the sound of this particular duo of instruments; something to depart from. I realized saxophone was not a significant part of my life as a musician since, as a violin player, I grew up performing in classical orchestras and folk and tango bands. The saxophone never had a predominant role in these ensembles, if it had any at all.Thinking about the tango, I suddenly remembered a phenomenal album by Astor Piazzolla, my greatest influence as a teenager, that I hadn't think of in a while. The album, by Piazzolla (composition and bandoneon) and Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone), was recorded in Italy in the 1970s and titled Summit (Reunión Cumbre). The mix of modern tango melodies with a jazz influenced sound and improvisatory sections was my starting point for this work.

The title of this piece, Soledad, translates to English as Solitude. This is also the title of a nostalgic work by Piazzolla which has a sequel in the album Summit as "Year of Solitude." I found that this second version had a tone of resignation and assimilation. Piazzolla was a person known for his sense of humor and his—sometimes annoying—pranks. Some people couldn't reconcile his personality with his melancholic music and wondered who he really was or what would inspire that music. That is what made me think of our ultimate loneliness, the limits of our physicality, our individual subjectivities, so I decided to make this piece a depiction of our efforts and failures at connecting with our surroundings.

Performed by DRAX.


Negative Image (2016)

For pierrot ensemble + percussion, electric guitar, and soprano.

Program note:

In this poem, Vilariño describes possibilities that won’t ever be, as a negative image describes light as darkness. Departing from an imaginary perfect future, she retraces her own steps, with disappointment and dramatism, in face of a permanent separation. Idea Vilariño (1920-2009) was an Uruguayan poet who was part of the intellectual generation of the 45’. Her poetry has been described as an “intimate experience, intense and distressing.”

Performance by Khemia Ensemble.


Esencia (2017)

For sinfonietta.

Program note:

In Spanish there are two verbs for the English verb “to be”, one is ser (to be) and the other one is estar (to be). The difference between the two is the quality of permanence: estar is a transitory state, an accidental element of being, while ser is permanent, ex. I am (ser) a human being, I am (estar) tired. The Spanish word esencia (essence) is descriptive of the ser verb form, the true nature of anything, not accidental or illusory (Merrian-Webster).

I find myself thinking about this a lot in times of change. Living in another country demands an immense effort for adaptation, in which one of the dangers -and almost unavoidable stage- is the feeling of losing oneself. Being at a distance with all the elements that made me myself: my culture, my family, my mother language, made me value all the small-things, those moments, places, persons that have now became lucid memories that I jealously treasure. And, aren’t we all just memories? Those instants that we chose to keep at the surface, and even the ones that remain deep inside, hidden, they shape our being, our feelings, our responses, they become our essence.

Performance by Alarm Will Sound.

Performance by Oberlin New Music Ensemble.


Etudes (2018)

For violin and piano

Performed by Hannah Ji and Byunghee Yoo.


Ausencias/AusÊncias/Absences (2017)

For string quartet, fixed media, dance and interactive video

Introduction
I. Violeta
II. Alfonsina
Interlude
III. Ana C.

Program Note:

I believe generating empathy through art can be a strong mechanism to develop our understanding of one another. In this work, I explore the concept of suicide in an attempt to exercise our capacity for empathy and compassion as well as to destigmatize mental illness.

Ausencias/Ausências/Absences, for string quartet, fixed media, dance, and interactive video is a thirty-minute intermedia work that can also be performed in a music-only format. The artistic impetus of this work was taken from the last writings of three South American poets who took their own lives: Chilean Violeta Parra (1917-1967), Argentinean Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938) and Brazilian Ana Cristina Cesar (1952-1983). The three main movements of the piece each focus on one poet and are inspired by the song Gracias a la vida (1966), by Parra, and the poems Me voy a dormir (1938), by Storni, and Samba canção (1982), by Cesar.

The audio and video portions of the work include images and recordings taken during the research trips to Chile, Brazil and Argentina I made in 2015, including the Cuatro Venezolano (small guitar with four strings) that belonged to Violeta Parra. In the intermedia version of the work, the dance floor is illuminated by images projected from two overhead projectors. The dancers’ movements are captured by a camera suspended above the stage. Touch Designer and Kinect motion tracking technology allows the dancers to trigger video gestures with their movements.

The choreographer Sandra Torijano created the dance, visual artist Kat Johnson and myself produced the visual media for the projections, and Carlos García developed the interactive technology. This full work was premiered on March 24th, 2017 at the Duderstadt Video Studio at the University of Michigan. The original music-only version was premiered by JACK Quartet on March 2016, commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard university. This is the version featured in the video below.


IUS IN BELLO (2014)

for Bb Cl, 2 Vlns, Vla, Vcl

(Version for Bb Cl, Fl, Pno, Vln, Vc available)

Ius in Bello is the Latin for “Law of War;” this is a set of moral principles that regulate confrontation. These implicit and explicit pacts must be honored during the conflict. Inspired by the socio-political confrontations in Venezuela started in February 2014, Ius in Bello is my response to the violent repression the government executed against civilian protesters, repression that costed lives and the continuous violation of human rights. With longing of times of peace and prosperity, the piece engages with dream-like sections in which a color saturated imagery of a perfect future is tinted with crispy dissonances. 

String Quartet & Clarinet version performed by JACK Quartet with Thiago Ancelmo.

Mixed Ensemble version performed by Khemia Ensemble.


Virginia (2015)

for Alto and SATB choir

Virginia is based on Virginia Woolf´s suicide letter to her husband, dated in May 1941.

“Dearest,

I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.”

Performed by the University of Michigan Chamber choir. Conducted by Jerry Blackstone.

Performed by NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. Conducted by Dominick DiOrio.


Incertidumbres (2013)

For string quartet, string orchestra, piano and percussion


 

Electronic Works

DÉjate Caer (2012)

For violin and electronics

The title Déjate Caer can be translated from Spanish as let yourself fall, and is taken from the poem Árbol de Diana by Alejandra Pizarnik:

“Vida, mi vida, déjate caer, déjate doler, mi vida, déjate enlazar de fuego,
de silencio ingenuo, de piedras verdes en la casa de la noche,
déjate caer y doler, mi vida.”

[Life, my life, let yourself fall, let yourself hurt, my life, let yourself be engulfed by fire,
of ingenuous silence, of green stones in the house at night,
let yourself fall and hurt, my life.]

(My translation)

Performed by James Lyon.


Añoranzas (2015)

For cello and electronics

Performed by Horacio Contreras.