On reflection, I will say who the figures were that left a lasting impression. Participating colleagues are unlikely to read these lines, and if they do they will understand, I’m sure, that any omission is the result of specific affinities on this occasion, and not a sign of failure to appreciate their contributions, all of which were valuable.
Graciela Paraskevaídis was impressive for her piece nada, a very potent statement built on next to nothing in the way of material. She kept a low profile in the conference and I missed her own paper, but in conversation between events she showed a lucid mind and a wide-ranging knowledge and understanding of new music.
Paraskevaídis’s performer for nada, Beatriz Elena Martínez, shone for her committed rendition, full of nuance, physicality and depth of expression.
The whole Ensamble CG were a lesson in dedication to innovation and high standards of performance; in the words of Paraskevaídis, they are “a luxury for Latin America”.
The Costa Rican composer Alejandro Cardona was striking in his Historias mínimas, as described in the previous post, and he was a warm and companionable colleague to have around.
The percussionist Gustavo De Jesús Olivar Sánchez impressed me for his indefatigable energy, his love of new music and his generosity in acting as an unappointed co-ordinator with the visiting composers and performers, walking us on the safer routes and providing a wealth of advice. He showed panache as a soloist in Ricardo Teruel’s Concertino on 28 May, and cast-iron reliability in the final concert.
This concert, by the soloists of the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble from Indiana University directed by Carmen Téllez provided a splendid close, especially the work by David Dzubay and the voice of Sharon Harms.
Alfredo Rugeles and Diana Arismendi worked selflessly and effectively to put on an event that has the potential to be, and in some respects already is, the main forum for new music in Latin America.
Rugeles and Arismendi’s aspiration to instigate developments not only for the benefit of Venezuela but with a pan-Latin American reach – the project of a Latin American Academy of Composition, for example – should be celebrated and encouraged. They are in line with a vision and a spirit of leadership Venezuelans have excelled at for centuries, from Simón Bolívar onwards. Now that the scope of the activities at Cuba’s Casa de las Américas has dwindled – or so it seems to me – these initiatives are precious and unique. They deserve the support of all of us with a stake in Latin American music.