Though we sometimes neglect to mention it, our “prime directive” here is for Mary E to study and perform contemporary Mexican flute music. When she comes home, Mary E tells me about how her lessons and classes go (one of her classes is on the philosophy of music as it pertains to performance analysis) such as the famed class on big flutes.
She has also taught and is currently teaching the rest of the class while her teacher is out of town (and she’s teaching her own course next semester!), but she has also had one public performance at the ENM in their impressive Sala Xochipilli. There, she performed the Mexican premiere of the work Punto y Linea by Mexican composer Jorge Sosa.
The performance went very well regardless of whether you take into account the difficulty of the piece. Not only is it rhythmically complex (fusing Cuban, Salsa, and jazz rhythms with the sometimes intentional rhythmic obfuscation of the modern avant-garde), but there is also an inherent compound melody to deal with. Compound melody is, in a nutshell, where a single-line instrument portrays 2 or more parts (melody + accompaniment) by displacing and partitioning the line (kind of like when you read a children’s story and doing “all of the voices.”)
The result could be an out-of-control mess in the hands of an unskilled player, but the piece is cohesive and Mary E has spent an incredible amount of time practicing and living with it, and she plays it very well. This work is always well-received by an audience, and strangely, the second movement (which features the piccolo in its lowest register and displays the above-mentioned melody + accompaniment in the form of mutliphonics, i.e. notes that are played and sang simultaneously) is always hauntingly beautiful.
The other players in her studio play extremely well too. I’ve met a few of her peers and fellow composers, and everyone is really vivacious, excited, and bursting-at-the-seams with talent and potential. I look forward to getting to know everyone better.
After a performance most people here say “¡felicidades!,” but to me, that’s kind of the equivalent of saying “congratulations” or “mazel tov!” We say those things to people when they win the lotto or guess correctly how many jelly beans are in the big jar at the state fair. Because we operate in the realm of music (where we always use Italian words and phrases like “Allegro non troppo” or “subito piano),” I firmly say “Bravo!,” the same as in the US. People here seem to understand it fine.
Mary E is now managing to get her hands on more Mexican sheet music. We often joke about the fact that many of the publishing companies here, which are slow to fulfill orders from the music school bookstore, are located in el D.F., and maybe we should just show up at their front door asking for the pieces. Among the works that we’ve been able to procure are some wonderful pieces by esteemed composer Mario Lavista. We went to a phenomenal concert choreographed by his daughter, dancer Claudia Lavista, of modern dance set to his music. Mary E is performing his Nocturne for alto flute later this month, and she will be playing for him as well. This time, I’ll endeavor to get some photos.
Many of the composers that Mary E is studying are alive and active, yet they don’t all have websites, and often their contact information is not publicized on university or ensemble web pages. So far when Mary E and I go to concerts around the city, afterwards we typically approach the composers and performers and get their tarjetas (business cards). It’s a very “interactive” manner of field research, and so far it yields positive results.
I look forward to hearing (and blogging about) more of Mary E’s concerts throughout the year.
“Bravissimo!” – Yepts