SONIDOS CUBANOS

The NODUS Ensemble performing music of Cuban composers

Innova 322

 

Tania Leon

To and Fro (4 moods)                                   

Kathleen Wilson soprano voice, Jennifer Snyder piano

1        I                                                                             1:15

2        II                                                                           1:42

3        III                                                                        2:31

4        IV                                                                       1:39

 

Orlando Jacinto Garcia

5        viento sonoro                                10:15

Laura Wilcox, viola

 

Ileana Pérez Velázquez                             

6        Nanahual                                                 6:12

Karen Neal soprano voice, Jennifer Snyder piano

 

Sergio Barroso

7        Crónicas II                                        11:16              

Laura Wilcox viola, Sergio Barroso electronics

 

Orlando Jacinto Garcia

8        silencios imaginados          13:18              

Elissa Lakofsky flute, Julian Santacoloma clarinet, Luis Fernandez violin, Phillip Lakofsky cello, Jennifer Snyder piano

 

Sonidos Cubanos

 

A recording featuring the NODUS Ensemble

Performing the music of Cuban Composers

 

About the recording

 

Sonidos Cubanos was created to showcase the music of Cuban composers working outside of Cuba and was realized with the support of the Cintas Foundation in New York and the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University in Miami. The recording features the music of 4 Cuban composers who have received the coveted Cintas Foundation Prize in Music Composition. The Cintas prize is awarded annually to a composer residing outside of Cuba who was born on the island or is of Cuban descent. The music on this recording reflects a variety of aesthetics as the 4 composers presented are from different generations and backgrounds each leaving Cuba at different ages and stages in their lives. The NODUS Ensemble also featured on this recording is known for their high artistic level and familiarity and advocacy for this music.

 

About NODUS

 

Initiated by composer Orlando Jacinto García, NODUS is the professional contemporary chamber music ensemble in residence at Florida International University's School of Music. Specializing in the cutting edge Art music of our time, the makeup of the ensemble varies for each concert depending on the works being presented. The ensemble’s repertoire includes recent music by composers from around the world as well as works written specifically for the ensemble.

 

NODUS debut at the FIU Festival of the Arts in November 1998 and shortly thereafter was featured at the January 1999 New Music Miami Festival. Subsequent performances have included the 1999, 2000, and 2001 FIU Music Festival, the 2001 Music of the Americas Festival, the 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 New Music Miami ISCM Festival, the 2004 International Computer Music Conference, the 2006 International Association of Women in Music Conference, and numerous other concerts held at a variety of South Florida venues over the past several seasons.

 

The ensemble has been featured at the Norton Museum, Wertheim Performing Arts Center, the Wolfsonian, the Spanish Cultural Center, Miami Art Central, Miami Art Museum, von Hartz Gallery, Dorsch Gallery, Gusman Concert Hall, among other performing spaces in the region. The musicians in NODUS are internationally acclaimed performers and include flutist Elissa Lakofsky, clarinetists Paul Green, Richard Hancock, and Julian Santacoloma, pianists Jose Lopez and Jennifer Snyder, percussionists Guy St-Amant and Mark Schubert, violinists Saul Bitran, Robert Davidovici, Luis Fernandez, and Yova Slessareva, violist Laura Wilcox, cellist Phillip Lakofsky, contrabassist Luis Gomez Imbert, sopranos Karen Neal and Kathleen Wilson, and tenor Robert Dundas.

 

The Performers on this recording are:

To and Fro (Leon) – Kathleen Wilson soprano voice, Jennifer Snyder piano

viento sonoro (Garcia) – Laura Wilcox, viola

Nanhual (Perez Velazquez) – Karen Neal soprano voice, Jennifer Snyder piano

Cronicas II (Barroso) – Laura Wilcox viola, Sergio Barroso electronics

silencios imaginados (Garcia) – Elissa Lakofsky flute, Julian Santacoloma clarinet, Luis Fernandez violin, Phillip Lakofsky cello, Jennifer Snyder piano

 

About the Composers and the Works

 

Tania León, born in Cuba, a vital personality on today’s music scene, is a highly regarded composer and conductor recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations.  She has been the subject of profiles on ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, Univision, Telemundo and independent films. Recent commissions include Acana for orchestra, Atwood Songs for soprano and piano, text by Margaret Atwood.  Appearances as guest conductor include the Symphony Orchestra of Marseille, the Gewaundhausorcherter Orchestra and L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, among others. Her honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Fromm and Guggenheim Fellowship.

 

A founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, she instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, was co-founder of the American Composers Orchestra “Sonidos de las Americas Festivals” and New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic. She has lectured at Harvard University, Visiting Professor at Yale University and Guest Composer/Conductor at the Hamburg Musikschule, Germany and the Beijing Central Conservatory, China. León has received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Colgate University, Oberlin and SUNY Purchase Colleges. In 2008 she served as US Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. A Professor at Brooklyn College since 1985, she was named Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York in 2006.

 

To and Fro is a song cycle based on the poetry of Alison Knowles. Each of the 4 songs in the cycle was created to reflect the mood of the poetry. The work was commissioned by the International Society for Contemporary Music.

 

Through more than one hundred and forty works composed for a wide range of performance genres, Orlando Jacinto Garcia has established himself as an important figure in the new music world.  The distinctive character of his music has been described as "time suspended- haunting sonic explorations" qualities he developed from his studies with Morton Feldman among others. 

 

Born in Havana, Cuba in 1954, Garcia migrated to the United States in 1961. In demand as a guest composer and lecturer nationally and internationally, he is the recipient of numerous honors and awards from a variety of organizations and cultural institutions, most recently including the including the New Ariel, Noise International, Matiz Rangel, Nuevas Resonancias, ACF Sonic Circuits, Salvatore Martirano, and Bloch International Competitions, and fellowships, residencies, and other awards from the Rockefeller, Fulbright, Dutka, and Cintas Foundations, as well as the State of Florida Council for the Arts. With performances in most of the major capitols of the world by numerous distinguished soloists, ensembles, and orchestras, his works are recorded on New Albion, O.O. Discs, CRI/New World (Emergency Music and eXchange labels), Albany, North/South, CRS, Rugginenti, VDM, Capstone, Innova, and Opus One Records and are available from Kallisti Music Press, the American Composers Alliance, and BHE.

 

He is the founder and director of several international festivals including the New Music Miami Festival and the Music of the Americas Festival, as well as being the founder and artistic director of the NODUS Ensemble and the Florida International University New Music Ensemble.  Garcia is Professor of Music and director of the Composition Program for the School of Music at Florida International University in Miami (USA). For more information visit http://www.orlandojacintogarcia.com

 

viento nocturno (evening or nocturnal wind) was completed in the Summer of 2002 at the request of violist Laura Wilcox who requested a new solo viola version of my work for viola and electronics, como los colores del viento nocturno (like the colors of the evening wind). Similar to the viola and electronics piece, viento nocturno requires that the soloist perform on small percussion instruments and/or any resonating body or bodies (in this case to be selected by the performer as opposed to wind chimes prescribed in the viola and tape work). Since there is no electronic part the various timbres and registers available on the viola are further explored in the solo work while allowing the performer to showcase his or her sound to the fullest. As with much of my music the piece is quiet and delicate and requires great control from the performer.  In addition, the counterpoint between register, timbre, density, and pacing as well as the slow evolution of materials are primary aesthetic concerns.

 

silencios imaginados (imagined silences) was written in the spring of 2001 for the Assisi Musiche Ensemble who premiered the work at the chamber music festival in Assisi, Italy in August of the same year. The work features the subtle interplay and counterpoint between the timbres available on the instruments in the ensemble.  In addition the clarinet and flute registers and timbres are expanded with the addition of bass clarinet, alto flute, and piccolo being doubled by the clarinetist and the flutist throughout the work.  Subtle gradations in the vibrato used by the instruments as well as a variety of delicate articulations, bowings, and effects performed inside the piano, are some of the more important details that are presented in counterpoint throughout the piece and that are the focus of the work.  As with much of my work the exploration of the subtle point where sound ends and silence begins is a primary concern (and hence the title).

 

Perez Velázquez’s music has been heard in concerts and international festivals in Cuba, the United States, Mexico, and throughout South America, Europe, and the Middle East. Her music has been praised for everything from her “imaginative strength” (Paul Griffiths, 1999) to her “evocative and dynamic” style (Edward Ortiz, 2002). Perez Velázquez writes music that, while challenging for both performer and listener alike, is deeply expressive. Her rich harmonic language and rhythmically intricate, multi-layered textures reveal her debt to her Cuban heritage.

She received her B.A. in piano and composition from the ISA, Havana, in 1987. When she moved to the United States in 1993, she was already recognized as one of the up-and-coming talents in Cuban composition, winning several national composition awards in Cuba. She obtained her MA from Dartmouth College in 1995 and her DM from Indiana University in 1999. Perez Velázquez was on the faculty of Portland State University (1998-2000), and since 2000 has been Associate Professor of Music at Williams College. She was a recipient of a 2000 Cintas Fellowship.

Her music has been performed by the Flux Quartet, CONTINUUM, Berkshire Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Players of the American Composers Orchestra, the League of Composers New York, ISCM, Sequitur, Aguava, Insomnium (Amsterdam), Nodus, Friends of rain (Portland, OR), and the Williams Chamber Players among others. It has been featured in numerous national and international festivals and in national conferences of SCI and CMS.  Albany Records released a CD of her music in 2008.

Lyrics and music of Nanahual were conceived simultaneously as unified creative process of music and poetry. Nanahual was inpired by a nahuatl legend that describes a remote time when the son was absent. Darkness and cold had invaded earth. The gods had met to decide who would be the one who will burn in fire to bring the sun and the light back. The only god who volunteered to sacrifice his life was Nanahual, who was ill, ugly, poor, and the less powerful among all gods.  The performance of this work would benefit from a theatrical approach. The composer suggests the use of lights and colors to reinforce the relationship between darkness and light in the poem.

 

Lyrics:

casi siento el alba

entre la obscura presencia

el color, la ausencia

tal cual la noche

pudiese ser eterna

 

sin luz, a tientas me acerco ya

dentro tengo tanta sed

tan potente es mi ansia de luz

 

en la distancia otras siluetas que ascienden

vuelan entre cenizas tangentes

de mi pasado

son tan cristalinas que casi puedo olvidar...

yo y la noche

callada y sin estrellas

 

mi cuerpo mortal tiembla ante el fuego

la luz de una pared salta

tan incomprensible salta, vuela

y vuela y me devora

 

nado dentro de espirales de humo,

fuego y redes de luz

el alba nace de mis ojos cerrados

el tiempo

ojos de luz cerrados...

cerrados

 

Translation to English:

I almost feel the sunrise,

among the dark presence,

color, absence…

as it is, the night

could be eternal

 

I get close without any light

I am so thirsty

so strong is my longing for light

 

in the distance other shadows ascending

they fly among ashes

of my past

they are so clear that I can almost forget…

I and the night

silent, without stars

 

my mortal body tremble in fire

the light of a wall jumps

so incomprehensible it jumps, fly

and devores me

 

I swim in smoky spirals,

fire and light

The sun rises from my closed eyes

time…

eyes of light, closed…

closed

 

Sergio Barroso studied at the Havana National Conservatory, the Prague Superior School of Music (AMU) and at CCRMA Stanford University in California. His music, described as having a dramatic character with emphasis in color and rhythm, has received several awards including the 2000 Lynch-Staunton national composition award from the Canada Council for the Arts, 1999 Cintas Foundation Award (USA), IMC Rostrums of Composers (Paris, 1995 & 1980), Rostrums of Electroacoustic Music (Helsinki, 1994; Oslo, 1990), and Rostrum of Latin American Music (Colombia, 1979), as well as Cuban national awards for chamber music (1973 & 1974), symphonic and choral music (1974) and electronic music (1979). After an intense decade of artistic, academic, media and administrative work in Cuba, Barroso migrated to Canada in 1980. His production includes orchestral, chamber, choral, electroacoustic, stage, multimedia, and film scores.

 

Strongly influenced by the cultural heritage of his native country Barroso’s works have been extensively performed in the Americas, Europe and Asia, including the MET Lincoln Center (New York), the Kennedy Centre (Washington D.C.), San Francisco, Warsaw and Budapest Opera, Monte-Carlo Theatre, National Arts Center (Ottawa), Ircam (Paris), Prague Smétana Hall, Madrid Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Bratislava Philharmonic Hall (Slovakia), South Bank Centre (London), Manila National Theatre, as well as several Warsaw Autumn, Alicante, ISCM, Manuel de Falla festivals and International Forums of New Music in Mexico City among others. Barroso’s music has been published by Centerdisc, SNE, Empreintes Digitales, Blue Note, Bonk, Radio Canada International, and Areito. Highly regarded as a synthesist he frequently performs in Canada and abroad.

 

Crónicas II was inspired by the poetic unrealism and polylyricism of the unique Catalan and major Hispanic writer J.V.Foix (1894-1987) last work Croniques de l’ultrason (1985). A version of a previous work, Crónicas de UltrasueĖo for oboe and keyboard controlled FM synthesizers, Crónicas II is scored for solo viola and a similar live electronics setup as the former. The piece was conceived in three uninterrupted sections that seek to bind together with an introspective flavor such opposites as concrete and abstract, old and new, reality and unreality found in Foix book. The viola part interplays with the polymicrotonal sound colors of the live electronics along a linear path of increasing complex drama. The present is a live performance at the Toronto Music Gallery in 1997 produced by David Jaeger with recording engineer David Quinley. Final edit by Sergio Barroso in the spring of 2009.

 

Acknowledgements

 

This recording project was made possible with the support of the Cintas Foundation in New York, the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University (FIU), the FIU School of Music, the NODUS Ensemble, and the composers represented on the CD.

 

Recordings for tracks 1 – 6 and track 8 by Paul Griffith during the summer and fall of 2008 at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center in Miami, FL. Track 7 recorded at the Toronto Music Gallery in 1997 produced by David Jaeger with recording engineer David Quinley, final editing by Sergio Barroso in the spring of 2009. Final mixing and mastering of the entire CD completed Spring 2009 by Paul Griffith at the studios of the University of Miami; CD produced by Orlando Jacinto Garcia.

 

Program notes and bios by the composers. Cover art by Jacek Kolasinski (image from his video separación).