EarShot Aguascalientes Symphony – Composer Spotlight: Mario Duarte

Dr. Mario Duarte (he/him) was born in Mexico City. After completing his studies in classical guitar, musicology and composition in his country, he travelled to the UK to complete a master’s degree and a PhD under the supervision of Ricardo Climent at NOVARS Research Centre, The University of Manchester. Mario completed a postdoctoral research fellow in Music Technology at The National Autonomous University of Mexico and CMMAS under the supervision of Rodrigo Sigal.

Duarte is a composer interested in the crossover between Science, Literature and Pre-Columbian cultures. His music has been played in major festivals in Mexico, Europe and the UK at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and New Music North West. He has worked as a producer and scriptwriter of contemporary music broadcasts at Opus 94.5 FM Instituto Mexicano de la Radio (2009) and as a music teacher IB MYP (2011-12).

Mario’s piece Metztli-tliltic (La luna negra) was selected for the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra EarShot New Music Readings, which takes place August 12-14, 2019 in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Mario spoke to us about the readings and his piece.

Composer Mario Duarte. Photo by Emma Wilde

American Composers Orchestra: What was your reaction to finding out your piece had been selected for the Aguascalientes EarShot New Music Readings?

Mario Duarte: My first reaction was of surprise because I wasn´t expecting the news. I was also excited to find out I would be working with Gabriela Ortiz, Derek Bermel and José Areán.

ACO: What are you doing to prepare for the readings? Are there any changes you have made to your piece since you found out it would be performed by the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra?

MD: I´ve been working on preparing the parts and making sure everything is ready to a professional standard for the workshop. I haven´t made any actual changes to the music because luckily the instrumentation fits perfectly for Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra.

ACO: What are you looking forward to about the workshops and readings? What do you hope to learn from the experience?

MD: I´m looking forward to hearing my music played by a professional orchestra. I hope to establish a relationship and start networking with my peers and with musicians in Mexico because for the last 6 years I´ve been living in the UK studying for my Masters and PhD degrees and this will be an opportunity to reconnect with the musical community in Mexico.

ACO: Your bio notes that you are interested in Pre-Columbian culture, and your selected work Metztli is named after the lunar deity in Aztec mythology, and borrows patterns from the Mayan calendar and numeric system. Can you talk about any musical influences you have taken from these Pre-Columbian cultures?

MD: My music itself doesn´t sound Pre-Columbian because we don´t know what that kind of music sounded like so I wouldn´t say that I´m influenced by these cultures in musical terms. It´s more the philosophy behind the music that is influenced by Pre-Columbian cultures. For example, in Metzli I took the idea of cycles from the Mayan calendar and this underpins the structure of the work.

ACO: Can you talk about what it means to be a Mexican composer?

MD: I think it means the same as being a British composer, a Japanese or an Argentinian composer. We all want to create and there is no difference regarding nationality in terms of the creative process.

Mario’s piece Metztli-tliltic (La luna negra) will be workshopped and performed at the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra EarShot New Music Readings, which takes place August 12-14, 2019 in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Learn more about Mario Duarte at www.duartemario.com

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