Para leer la siguiente descripción en Español, hacer clic aquí.
So many of you have approached me asking after an album. It's happening now.
This December, I'll be recording my debut C.D., Mobili, bringing to life six Chilean musical treasures. You can be a part of the making of Mobili by helping me reach $12,500 (or more!) within 40 days.
What is Mobili?
Named after one of the pieces on the record, Mobili will introduce you to six pieces by five Chilean composers. The album covers an immense musical landscape, with the oldest composer born in 1912 and the youngest in 1985.
These gemstones of the Latin American string repertoire have never been officially recorded, and so have been, until now, almost entirely inaccessible. For this work, I am outrageously lucky to be collaborating with my esteemed friend and colleague, New York-based pianist Silvie Cheng. Learn more about her work here.
Silvie and I have been playing together since we met in college, at the Manhattan School of Music, and we have grown to be lifelong friends and tenacious musical partners since then. I am constantly challenged and invigorated when working with the astonishingly gifted Silvie, (seriously- check her out if you haven't already) and I am proud and excited that our treasured musical relationship is fundamental to the music we'll release together.
To be able to do this amazing work, we need your help to reach our goal before Wednesday July 17th.
What exactly will be on the C.D.?
The pieces on the CD relate to the most surprising subjects, like English poetry (Heinlein’s Duo, in honor of Dylan Thomas), and fantasized astrological soundscapes (Cortés’s Tololo, named after a spectacular observatory in the North). It is also deeply tied to American and European composition (Orrego-Salas studied with Aaron Copland, Heinlein with Nadia Boulanger). There is everything here from elegant neo-classicism to indulgent romantic melodies, to atmospheric, indigenous prayer-songs. The result is a fascinating musical mobile, brimming with life, sincerity, and endless curiosity:
Juan ORREGO-SALAS Mobili, op. 67, for viola & piano
David CORTÉS Tololo, for viola & orchestra (arr. viola & piano)
Federico HEINLEIN Duo, for viola & piano ‘Do Not Go Gently’
Carlos BOTTO Fantasia for viola & piano
Rafael DÍAZ In the Depths of my Distance, for viola & piano
Will There be Someone Whose Hands can Sustain This Falling? for amplified solo viola
Scroll down to 'Meet the Composers' to learn more about them! Before we get into logistics, here’s just a taste: 2/5 are Guggenheim Fellows, one is a Rockefeller grantee, and their composition teachers include Aaron Copland, Nadia Boulanger, and George Crumb.
Mobili will be dedicated to Juan Orrego-Salas, the composer of the titular work, who turned 100 just this year!
Why haven’t the pieces been recorded already?
Studio recording is expensive – especially at classical standards. With the rise of audio streaming and the decline of CD sales, massive amounts of music written after the wars has sadly existed without proper recording, making contemporary music inaccessible and perpetually unfamiliar to most.
Naturally, this means that Silvie and I have been learning this music with almost zero audio references, which is a rare challenge for a musician in this day and age, requiring our skills as interpreters to be at peak performance. In making this record, we will live out a process that was typical for musicians before the phonograph, and you, our listeners, get to hear the unique result of that work.
Silvie and I are welcoming this massive challenge with love, gratitude, and invincible work ethic. In other words, we just cannot wait – and we do hope you’ll join us along the way!
Of the three composers alive today, I am working closely alongside two, Cortés and Díaz, in my understanding of the music, which is a luxury. Breathing life into these pieces by recording them for the very first time is an *enormous* musical responsibility, as our interpretive choices will set a global reference for audiences and musicians present and future. It will be the biggest honor of my life to do this work.
What if I don’t know anything about Chilean music?
All the better! No particular interest in Chile is required to enjoy this C.D. Chilean classical music is surprisingly international, so there is no specific quality to look out for to identify as “Chilean”. Every piece is different.
Thank you to the moon and back for your interest in this project, and for your love of music and the arts. I so look forward to meeting you and sharing this music, wherever you call home.
Read below to get to know the composers and to read about our plans for the tour and recording process in detail.
Ok, exciting! So, what’s your plan?
1. Pre-release concert tour: Before setting foot in the recording studio, Silvie and I will warm up to the repertoire by spending two weeks performing all over Chile this coming November. Our goal is to reach the most ears possible. Included in our remote venues will be the Museum of Modern Art on the island of Chiloé in the Región de Los Lagos, and the Toki, a music school founded by renowned-pianist Mahani Teave on Rapa Nui (that’s Easter Island—a 5-hour plane ride from Santiago!).
2. Recording: After the tour, the repertoire will have grown with us in performance and we will be itching to record it. We are booked at Oktaven Studios in New York for three consecutive days of recording sessions in early December, 2019.
3. Launch: Once the resulting record is polished, mixed and mastered, the release will be celebrated by a reception in NYC in the Spring of 2020. Check out the donor perks to see which will get you a special invite to the release party!
Bonus release: As a special addition to the project, I’ll be producing a very limited-edition vinyl of selected tracks from Mobili. This record will be created to function less like a traditional record and more like an art-object: the artwork on the album will be my own original work, hand-pulled at Shoestring Press in Brooklyn, and will be carefully curated to be one with the music (click here to see samples of my artwork). This edition will be on display at the launch party. Only the top donor receives a copy of this vinyl edition, but a very limited amount of copies will also be available for purchase. Keep in touch with me in early 2020 if you’d like to own one!
4. Post-launch tour: Not to leave out our North-American friends, we will pursue a brief tour in the U.S and Canada in 2020, dates and venues T.B.D.
- Meet the composers -
David Cortés, b. 1985
Cortés was born in Santiago and studied composition at the Universidad de Chile. His 2011 work Tololo for solo viola and orchestra won first prize in the Luis Advis competition, a major national honor. The piece is inspired by the night sky as viewed from one of Chile's most spectacular observatories, the Tololo, and truly makes one feel like stars and celestial bodies are orbiting around you.
Fun fact: as part of the competition, Tololo was premiered by the Chile Chamber Orchestra and its principal violist. Said violist is Georgina's mother and first teacher, Penelope Knuth.
Rafael Díaz, b. 1965
An ethnomusicologist and composer, all of Díaz's music is obsessed with beauty and brims with memorable melodies, always aspiring to a higher realm. Díaz turns to the spiritual practices of indigenous peoples to re-discover melody, song, and nature, and to explore our connection to the world. Born in Santiago, he studied at the Universidad de Chile before receiving his Master's in Washington D.C. and his Doctorate in Madrid. A pupil of Cirilo Vila and George Crumb, Díaz taught composition in his home country for decades. Today he calls Assisi, Italy, his home.
Federico Heinlein, 1912-1999
Born in Berlin, Heinlein was recognized in Chile both as composer and music critic. He taught composition in the Universidad de Chile for over thirty years, and was music and dance critic for El Mercurio, Santiago's main journal, from 1954. Heinlein's parents were German immigrants first in Venezuela, then Argentina, and Chile. He was distinguished by the government with the 1986 Premio Nacional de las Artes Musicales en Chile (National Prize for Musical Arts in Chile).
The sheet music of the piece represented on the C.D., Duo for viola and piano, can be described as romantic, and has a handwritten inscription that reads "Do not go gentle".
Carlos Botto, 1923 - 2004
Botto was a celebrated pianist, professor, and composer who completed his studies in composition and piano in 1955, at the Universidad de Chile. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1956 to study in New York with composer Luigi Dallapiccola. Among the numerous awards he received throughout his career is included the National Prize for the Arts from the Chilean government, in 1996.
Botto's compositional style is intelligent, playful, and dramatic. At times romantic, at times restrained, he is most concerned with capturing the imagination of the listener over maintaining a specific musical style.
Juan Orrego-Salas, b.1919
Orrego-Salas lives in Bloomington, IN, where he taught composition at Indiana University for over 25 years, serving as chair of the composition department, and retiring as Professor Emeritus. The Santiago-born composer's work has been performed by the Juilliard Quartet, Louisville Symphony and the National Symphony in D.C. He was a Rockefeller Foundation grantee as well as a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, studying composition with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood, at the universities of Virginia and Princeton with Randall Thompson, and studying musicology with Paul Henry Lang and Georg Herzog at Columbia University.
The illustrious composer turned 100 this year, and I will be dedicating my record, named after his piece, to his centennial.
A little about me:
Born and raised in Santiago, Chile, this record has been a dream of mine for many years. My first teacher was my mother, violist Penelope Knuth, who started me at four, and I graduated with a Masters in Music from the Juilliard School in 2017, where I studied with Roger Tapping. Since then, I have made debuts with orchestras in South America and showcased Chilean music at every turn. Addicted to chamber music, I'm a former Fellow of the Bowdoin International Music Festival and the Kammermusik Akademie Hohenstaufen, and have been invited to be a Fellow of Toronto's Summer Music Festival this summer, where I'll be performing chamber music all July long with my amazing colleagues.
A little about Silvie:
Lauded for her “extraordinarily varied palette” (WholeNote Magazine) and “purely magical” playing (New York Concert Review), Chinese-Canadian pianist Silvie Cheng illuminates musical works with her exquisite touch at the keyboard. Since her Carnegie Hall solo debut in 2011, she has performed in esteemed concert halls across the globe, from New York’s Steinway Hall to Brussels’ Flagey Hall, and Montréal’s Maison Symphonique to Shanghai’s Poly Theatre.
Equally consummate as guest soloist and recitalist, Silvie was most recently invited to play with the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra in 2018 and will make her debut with Symphony Nova Scotia in the 2019-20 season. She tours extensively in North America, Europe, and Asia as the pianist of Cheng² Duo alongside her cellist brother, Bryan Cheng, and together they have released a trilogy of critically-acclaimed albums on the German label audite: Russian Legends (2019), Violonchelo del fuego (2018), and Violoncelle français (2016). Silvie received her ARCT performance diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music and both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music.
Risks and challenges
Every project has its risks, but being trained in classical music performance from the age of 4, "the show must go on" defines my work process.
The music is learned, the studio-recording dates have been booked since January, the tour dates and venues are in process of being finalized, and whether or not this campaign succeeds, I will make sure that I contribute this C.D. to the musical world. It will, of course, be a lot easier with your help, and I would love to have you be a part of it.
- (40 days)