Perspectives from Latin America

This collection of videos features contemporary percussion music from Latin America, offering alternatives perspectives to the genre that are often overlooked and underrepresented in the United States. The concept of curating performances of pieces by Latin American Composers originated during the year I spent in Bogotá, Colombia a Fulbright scholar from 2011-2012. I quickly noticed that the classical music tradition in Colombia is historically Euro-centric, just as it has been in the United States. I began thinking of an alternative focus in my own performance, one that looks along a north-south axis, instead of the traditional east-west axis. While this is not a new concept, Henry Cowell and Amadeo Roldán among others, were influential in establishing the Pan American Association of Composers, my goal is bring awareness to the great wealth of repertoire of contemporary music being written throughout Latin America and to again foster a Pan American dialogue in contemporary percussion music. 


María José

Composed by Luis Fernando Sanchez Gooding (Colombia)

 

"María José is inspired by the idea that we sometimes lose people unexpectedly and the only thing left is an imagination of what could have been. An imagination somewhere between what we actually lived and what we projected to live with a person. The title, a name used for both men and women, reflects the same sense of alternatives." - Sanchez Gooding - 


Monologue IV: Bilingualism

Composed by José Martinez (Colombia)

"I believe in the idea that performers and composers are reaching the point where we need to be fluent in different musical genres. There is a surprising satisfaction we have when we see a performer equally mastering the intricacies and sensibilities of both avant-garde sounds and folkloric music – just to mention two.  Percussionist Andy Miller, who led the bilingual consortium (USA and Colombia) that commissioned the piece, shares this vision with me. We are both similarly interested in exploring the blend of different drumming styles within a single universal output. Together we are looking to find new colors and nuances among different sonic worlds as they come closer together."

- Martinez -

Consortium Commission
Leader: Andy Miller
Members: Aaron Villarreal, Akira Robles, Alejandro Ruíz, Ben Charles, Daniel Arango, Carlos Camacho, Eduardo Caicedo, Juan David Forero, Juan Mauricio Bahamón, Mitchell Beck, Mario Sarmiento, Russell Wharton.
 


Caxixando

Composed by Ricardo Coehlo de Souza (Brazil)

Caxixando is a short solo for a pair of caxixis, which are instruments typical of northeast Brazil. The caxixi is most often used as a single shaker. The player holds it in their right hand along with a stick used to play the berimbau (an Afro-Brazilian musical bow). The combined sound of the berimbau and the caxixi is characteristic of the popular capoeira, a martial art disguised as a dance that was developed by African slaves during the colonial period in Brazil. In Caixixando, the composer explores the expressive qualities of these simple baskets filled with seeds, which require a sophisticated playing technique. The title is a respelling of the word coshishando, which refers to a whispering type of conversation usually associated with gossip.                                                                - Ricardo Coehlo de Souza - 


Perfume de Gardenias

Composed by Rafael Hernandez and arranged by Orlando Cotto

Rafael Hernandez is widely considered to be one of the greatest composers of Puerto Rican music. This arrangement is based off a solo piano performance of the piece, evoking a subdued romantic atmosphere like a serenade on a warm summer evening.


Malavés

Composed by Carlos Mastropietro

This multiple percussion piece is a journey through subtle rhythmic modulations and textural variations stretched out in a unique minimalist fashion. Played often as a recital piece in Colombia, the work has been championed by Eduardo Caicedo, one of the leading contemporary percussionists in Bogotá. Following Eduardo’s interpretation, I have explored a wider range of sound possibilities than originally scored, including the use of the Colombian Bombo and Tambor Alegre in place of a single conga drum. This interpretation evokes a uniquely “Colombian” sound to the piece, bringing both the excitement and monotony of hyper-urbanized life in Bogotá.