EarShot ICO Readings & Competition: Composer Spotlight – Reinaldo Moya

Composer Reinaldo Moya’s music has been performed in Germany, Colombia, Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Venezuela and throughout the US by performers such as the New Jersey Symphony, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Attacca Quartet, Zeitgeist, The St. Olaf Orchestra, as well as musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Alarm Will Sound, among others. He is the recipient of the 2015 McKnight Composers Fellowship, the Van Lier Fellowship from Meet the Composer, and the Aaron Copland Award from the Copland House.

Reinaldo has been commissioned by the Minnesota Opera to write a new opera as part of Minnesota Opera’s initiative Project Opera. An adaptation of Will Weaver’s book Memory Boy, the opera has a libretto by Mark Campbell and was premiered in the spring of 2016. Excerpts from his opera Generalissimo have been performed at Symphony Space, and Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall. He graduated from The Juilliard School with both Master’s and Doctorate degrees, under the tutelage of Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser. Reinaldo is Assistant Professor of Composition at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, and has served on the faculty at St. Olaf, and Macalester colleges in Minnesota.

Reinaldo was selected for the 2016 EarShot Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Readings & Competition for his piece Passacaglia for Orchestra. He answered these questions for SoundAdvice. 

Composer Reinaldo Moya

The readings are free and open to the public on Friday, September 23, 7PM at the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts.

American Composers Orchestra: You are an accomplished composer of opera, with a commission from Minnesota Opera that was premiered last spring and many performances of excerpts from your opera Generalissimo in New York City. Without the ability to directly communicate text or story in an instrumental work for orchestra, what artistic force do you find is lost or gained as a composer?

Reinaldo Moya: I don’t necessarily think of it as a loss. I think different kinds of composing offer different possibilities for expression. While I do enjoy having the directness of the word, the sheer power of the orchestra to evoke emotions and paint aural pictures is perhaps unequaled in music. I’m just glad to have the opportunity to do both and go back and forth. I find that this process is beneficial to both my vocal music and my orchestral music. My music with text gets richer after I’ve worked on something orchestral, and my orchestra music grows as well after I’ve spent some time setting words to music. It’s a wonderful and invigorating process.

ACO: Your Passacaglia for Orchestra uses a bass-ostinato with continuing variations above it. Can you talk about this bass line and the compositional process that brought you to it?

RM: The Passacaglia idea has intrigued me for a long time. It seems so simple, you take something that on its own might not be that remarkable (in the case of my piece a descent from the tonic to the dominant) and layer things on top of it, or around it. Then you see what comes out. It turned out to be harder than I thought but I really enjoyed the challenge.

In the case of this piece, my friend William Harvey, the founder and director of Cultures and Harmony (and a native of Indianapolis), had asked me to write this piece to celebrate 10 years of his organization going around the world and making music together. The idea of viewing the repeating bass line as a metaphor for our common humanity across cultural barriers really spoke to me. Despite all of our differences on the surface, underneath it all, we’re all people with a deep desire to get along and lead fulfilling lives. I wish I’d come up with this metaphor myself, because I think it’s fantastic, but once I heard it, it really inspired a lot of the piece.

ACO: What was your reaction to finding our your piece had been selected for the 2016 Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Readings and Competition?

RM: I was actually overseas in Venezuela visiting family when I received the call. So, after I came back to the US and checked my phone, I had all of these voicemails, and when I listened to the one where it said I’d been selected, I had to pinch myself. It seemed kind of surreal. Once I called Greg Evans at ACO back, he confirmed it for me and then I was super thrilled.

ACO: What are you most looking forward to about the readings?

RM: Writing an orchestral work is a labor of love. It takes many hours of solitary work. After all of that, many of our pieces go unheard. The reasons are diverse, but it usually boils down to resources. Hearing a new orchestral piece live requires a lot of highly skilled people, and those wonderful performers do not come cheap. For me, the biggest reward that I will have this week is getting to share my music with an audience. It will now live outside of my head and be brought into existence by these wonderful musicians. The countless hours of lonely work will hopefully lead to an opportunity to have a shared moment, and I consider myself so lucky to have that opportunity.

Besides that, I’m very excited to get to make some new friends, hear wonderful new pieces, get some ideas, learn about the orchestra and get to work with the mentor composers. I’m so glad that these days here in Indianapolis will bring together so many talented, and generous people in the pursuit of musical beauty, and excellence.

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