Underwood New Music Readings: Composer Spotlight – Igor Santos

Composer Igor Santos is one of the seven selected composers for ACO’s 24th annual Underwood New Music Readings on May 6 and 7. Igor says of his selected piece, “ploy, pivot is the first work in a series of pieces of mine that attempt to create a narratological structure using the superposition of music with completely different characters.” Read his full program note here.

Igor was kind enough to answer some questions for SoundAdvice.

Composer Igor Santos

What was your reaction to finding out your piece had been selected for the Underwood New Music Readings?
The opportunity to hear one’s orchestral work more than once is a rare event for most student composers, so I was very pleased to receive news that my work would receive a reading with the ACO. This was the first time I submitted a work for the Underwood New Music Readings, and I am humbled to have been chosen.

What preparations are you making ahead of the readings with the American Composers Orchestra?
It has been an entire year since I wrote this piece, so I am re-studying my score in preparation for the ACO rehearsals. One particular concept for this piece, “ploy, pivot”, involves the superposition of music of different affects (for example: having a layer of calm lyrical music against a texture of abrasive pointillist attacks), and there are moments in the work which are quite “thick”, with many independent musics occurring simultaneously. My preparations involve reminding myself now of what layers should be prioritized and the best ways of balancing certain sections, so that I can express this to the conductor and players in the case that my score fails to do so. I should add that although this piece is inspired and written in the spirit of Charles Ives’s orchestral works (e.g. Three Places in New England, Holidays Symphony, Symphony No. 4, etc.), my approach to multi-layered music is different: I do not reference vernacular music (e.g. Ives use of popular tunes, marching bands, church hymns), and independent musical characters are not isolated objects – they find points of convergence, moments of simultaneous transformation or separation, and so forth – my technique is, perhaps, aimed towards self-referential relationships, and I ultimately strive for clarity in this piece. This is no way a criticism on Ives – I am just pointing out that although I use a similar technique, the intent and scale of the music are quite different.

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