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Single-movement work for string trio
I've been practicing meditation for several years and if I had to choose a particular word to describe what I experience, that word would be "drifting". After relaxing, my mind begins to wander. Fragments of images, thoughts and sounds flash through my mind, like fast zapping on a TV. Everything is blurry, but every now and then an image takes shape and for a moment I see all kinds of things: people, landscapes, animals, etc.; sometimes I hear a voice that speaks to me; I've even listened to music, like tuning in to a radio station for a few seconds (and when I say listen I mean it; it's not like remembering a song, it's exactly like listening to it). This is known in neuroscience as the "hypnagogic state", in which hallucinations often occur.
I decided to draw on this kind of experience to write Drifting. It's organized in three sections, with no break between them: relaxing, flowing and being.
Duration: c.a. 7 min 40 sec
Dear Diary (2022)
Mini-opera for soprano, tenor and piano
I've wanted to write a piece based on Twain's Diaries of Adam and Eve ever since I read it. I always thought that the story had great potential to write a little opera buffa, and when I came across it by chance while tidying up a bookshelf, the idea came back to me and this time I finally decided to make it a reality.
I have used only a few sentences from Twain's book and arranged them in such a way as to produce a workable libretto. For the most part, I've kept everything intact, except for a few words that I've taken the liberty of contract (for example, it's instead of it is; that's instead of that is). Also, in Eve's last entry, I changed "every wife" to "everyone", as I want her words to refer to all human beings and not just women.
Duration: c.a. 15 min
Symphony for Piano Quintet (2022)
Five-movement work for piano quintet
Ever since I had the idea of writing a symphony, many years ago, I always knew that I wanted it to be about my childhood memories. I spent much of my childhood in the house of my paternal grandparents and both the house, its inhabitants and the occasional guests we had, appear from time to time in my dreams.
One day I asked myself the following question: can I write a symphony for a set of instruments other than an orchestra? Is it a requirement that a symphony be performed by an orchestra? What is a symphony? How is it defined in modern times? I know some people will find the title of my piece inappropriate and argue that I could simply have called it a piano quintet and dispensed with the word symphony in its name. However, I think that the work conveys a certain symphonic character and, therefore, it is, in my opinion, a symphony, a symphony for piano quintet.
Duration: c.a. 24 min
Three-movement work for soprano, clarinet and piano
Eulogy is a piece dedicated to the memory of my dear friend Rafael Salazar. I met Rafael in 1994, when I was invited to take the position of guest pianist (I was already an alumnus) in my high school orchestra, where he played the violin. I was seven years his senior, but that didn't stop us from forging a great friendship. He played my music in many other occasions. He grew up and matured, became a loving husband, father, and successful attorney. He was always available, always ready to lend a hand, genuinely concerned for the well-being of other people and for the future of our country. He was always there for me and for all his friends and I have lost count of all the times he offered me his help, without expecting anything in return. In November 2019, at age 39, he was diagnosed with cancer. Despite all our hopes and his great will to live, he passed away on April 18, 2020. He now visits me in my dreams and sometimes, when I realize that I'm dreaming, I give him a big hug. Rest in peace my friend. I'll miss you a lot.
Duration: c.a. 12 min
Single-movement work for flute, clarinet, 2 violins and cello
“Pregón” is a Spanish word that refers to the cries of the street vendors, known as “pregoneros”, to announce their arrival. They toured the streets of Lima until the first half of the 20th century. Their cries used to be short songs that described the products they sold. There were pregoneros for all kinds of goods, from fruit to potatoes, to drinks of all types.
One of the most remembered pregones is the one that advertised a type of sweet roll known as "hot revolution", made of sugar, cloves and cinnamon. This piece is based on this tune, mixed with some Peruvian rhythms, like the Marinera and the Peruvian Waltz. In a broader sense, a pregón is an announcement, a proclamation of something good that is coming. Therefore, it seemed very appropriate to me in these times of global pandemic. I hope its light, dance-like character invites people to think of better times to come.
Duration: c.a. 1 min
The Spirits of Cahuachi (2020)
Single-movement work for 10 musicians
This piece is inspired by the reading of the book 'Behind the Silence: Music in the Nasca Culture', by the Polish scientist Anna Gruszczyńska-Ziółkowska, which describes the discovery, in 1994, of several antaras (Andean pan flutes) made of clay in a temple in the city of Cahuachi, the political and cultural center of the Nasca culture. The book includes tables with the exact tones that each tube is capable of producing. The Spirits of Cahuachi uses these tones, i.e. their approximate counterpart in our modern tuning system, treating them in different ways, sometimes as chords, sometimes as scales, sometimes as pitch-class sets, fragmenting the sets, and then overlapping the resulting groups, etc. Of course, there is no intention to produce something that resembles the music of the ancient Nasca inhabitants. We don't know anything about their music. None of it has survived with the exception of these tones, these 'spirits' contained in the pipes of the antaras discovered in Cahuachi.
Duration: c.a. 6 min
Northern Landscapes (2020)
Single-movement work for string quartet
Northern Landscapes is a piece inspired by a trip I made in December 2019 to Mancora, a city and also a well-known beach resort in the Piura region, in northwestern Peru.
There are no direct flights to Mancora and the trip by land from the nearest airport takes about an hour, crossing a desert landscape of beautiful yellow, orange and brown shades, which extend through endless valleys and majestic canyons. It is this part of my journey to Mancora that inspired me to write Northern Landscapes, whose objective is simply to capture the essence of that sensation of going at great speed through a colorful scenery.
Duration: c.a. 4 min 20 sec
Kindred Hearts (2015)
Four songs for male voice and piano
In 2011, deeply impressed by the work of Bryan Borland, I asked him if he would agree to write a few poems that I could set to music.
From the beginning, I decided I wanted a very intimate sound and thought that the technique of popular singing was the best way to properly convey my concept of the piece. This decision influenced the style of the music, which lies somewhere in between classical and popular, and even jazz.
The first version of Kindred Hearts called for piano and string quintet (with double bass) but aware of the difficulty in securing such instrumentation in the context of art song recitals, I decided to make this version for voice and piano accompaniment.
Duration: c.a. 22 min 30 sec
Five-movement work for seven female voices (3 sopranos, 3 mezzos, 2 altos) and ensemble (flute, oboe, clarinet, percussion, piano, viola, cello, double bass)
In August 2013 Peruvian choir director Paloma Bascones asked me to compose a cantata for the Josep Soler Music Festival. I then assembled various texts from different sources, cultures, and languages (Latin, Ancient Greek, Ancient Egyptian, Sanskrit, Sumerian, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, Navajo, Cherokee, Nahuatl, Quechua, Spanish, German, English) and created five texts with excerpts of them, each text focused on a particular element: wind, fire, water, earth and the quintessence. A specific request from Ms. Bascones was that the work be related to a collection of medieval music pieces that she referred me to. For this reason, Alchimia makes use of some harmonic and melodic features of that style, combined with modern forms and techniques, as well as some special effects made from everyday items, and deals with all of these in a way that conveys the sense of a kind of magical ritual, a ritual to call the five elements of antiquity and bring part of their essence to our time.
Duration: c.a. 19 min
Letters From Canada (2006)
Twenty-six-movement work for violin, guitar, piano and electronic keyboard
In November 2006, a montage of the work “The trees die standing still” by Alejandro Casona was held in Lima in the San Isidro Municipal Library Auditorium. The production was in charge of ex-members of the “Appendix” theater group under the direction of Manuel Lassus. For this montage, I wrote the music that appears in this volume, composed of a series of short themes that are distributed throughout the work, through repetitions with or without variations.
This new version of the score contains slight modifications with respect to the original 2006 version that required, among other things, the use of a recorder in some numbers, an instrument that has been deleted here.
Some pieces included in this edition make up the album “Letters from Canada”, which is available through digital platforms.
Duration: c.a. 32 min
Single-movement work for piano quintet
Portrait is a piece I wrote in August 2004 as a gift to Adolf Sobrevilla, to whom it is dedicated. As the title suggests, it is a portrait, an attempt to describe a person—not physically, but emotionally—through music.
The original version called for a string orchestra and piano, but I was never completely satisfied with that solution and kept constantly revising the score over the years. In 2016 I was close to a definitive solution after realizing that, due to the virtuosity required of the strings, it was better to reduce them to a solo quintet. Finally, in 2022, I thought it would be better to rewrite the piece for a piano quintet, being a more standard formation.
Duration: c.a. 5 min 15 sec
Single-movement work for a cappella choir
I started composing A-nir in April 2002, for my composition class at the National Conservatory of Music. The title means "lamentation" in the Sumerian language and the text corresponds to the first twenty-one lines of "The Lament for Sumer and Urim", written between 2600 and 1700 BC. The transliteration (i.e. a conversion to the Latin alphabet) of the original cuneiform version was done by the Oriental Institute of the University of Oxford and published online in the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. An analysis of the text presents a three-part structure, with the first and third sections closely related.
In 2004, A-nir won the Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest, sponsored by the Michigan-based choir Vanguard Voices, in the category of emerging composers, and premiered on June 5, 2005 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, Dearborn, Michigan.
Duration: c.a. 6 min
El Sereno (2001)
Single-movement work for baritone and piano
Back in 1999, after my grandfather passed away, I was told by my mother that he used to write poems and that there was a notebook where my grandmother had saved some. By 2001, I already had a copy of it and, when I was asked to write a song with piano accompaniment, I immediately saw my grandfather's poems as very good candidates.
I chose the poem "El Sereno", which makes reference to the people who once lit the lamps and guarded the streets at night in Madrid. However, to be honest, I'm not entirely sure this poem belongs to my grandfather, as he also used to write down poems by other authors in his notebook. However, I've searched all over the Internet and I haven't even been able to find a poem that even resembles this one. I have to conclude then, not having any proof otherwise, that this poem was written by my grandfather, and will continue to include his name in the score, at least until someone comes forth with proof it belongs to a different author.
Duration: c.a. 3 min 30 sec