La Gaviota: Essay No. 1 for Orchestra

The song La gaviota (The Seagull), by Cuban songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, is used as a main theme for development in this orchestral essay. It is an homage to this poet and musician, as well as a personal statement about my Cuban heritage and the sense of exile as a Hispanic. This is the first movement for an orchestral suite that will serve as a testament to my search for truth through identity; it offers a message about struggle vis-à-vis peace and reconciliation. Silvio explained to me that he wrote the song La gaviota upon his return from Angola, where he lent his revolutionary efforts by providing music to the soldiers from the Cuban front that supported the natives in their fight for independence. He composed the song after his war experience and from having contemplated the flight of a seagull as a metaphor for the passing by of life. This piece is meant to convey an embodiment of the seagull by the orchestra. It grows from a thematic cell borrowed from Silvio and is then filtered through the prisms of personal experiences, which are conveyed through secondary musical quotations. The piece ends with an orchestration of the natural song of a seagull, giving proper form through a circular closing, as a journey that is distilled back to its purest essence. The references heard throughout –such as Cuban songs that my grandparents sang, a piece by Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, and textures derived from Latin and African rhythms-are presented as spectral echoes that undergo the “textural” variations. The soundscape maybe experienced similarly to how our memories come in and out of phase,or at times even overlap, at different points in our lives.

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28th Underwood New Music Reading (2019)

May 23, 2019 8:30 am
NYU’s Frederick Loewe Theater

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