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Length: 2023

Orchestration: string orchestra and piano

About this Piece

Having been raised in a family where Latin American folklore and the so-called “Canto Nuevo” were always present, I had the opportunity to be in contact with South American composers, singers, and groups through which I acquainted myself with the music of Violeta Parra. As a girl I met Uruguayan performer Daniel Viglietti, Argentinean Mercedes Sosa, and Chileans Victor Jara and the famous Inti-Illimani. All of them gave me access to Violeta’s songs, which I enjoyed enormously although, due to my age, I was not yet aware of the meaning of her texts and her own life.

After Pinochet’s coup, I had the opportunity to be in touch with the members of Inti-Illimani during the group’s forced exile, either on their visits to Mexico or during my years of study in Europe. Our last encounter took place in the port city of Valparaiso, during the winter of 2001, in a Chile that had recovered its democracy. Thanks to all this, I was able to deepen my knowledge of the greatness of this Chilean composer and performer Violeta Parra. Later on, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano commissioned a work to celebrate its 20th anniversary and, taking into account that three of them had seen the first light in the very country where this extraordinary woman was born, I decided to write and dedicate this quintet to her memory.

The work is divided into six short pieces; three of them, “Andean Prelude,” “Song of the Little Angel,” and “Amen,” are inspired and closely related in a very personal way to the life of Violeta, whereas the remaining ones, “Austral Geometry,” “Genesic Rhythm,” and “Danza Esdrújula,” are studies that utilize certain technical aspects of polyrhythms already used in other works of mine.

In August 2022, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel asked me to create an arrangement for string orchestra as part of the Canto en resistencia concert during the 2023 California Festival. —Gabriela Ortiz