Concert: “Que tus ojos no se cansen de brillar”

[Many thanks to Tess O’Dwyer for bringing this item to our attention.] The Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA) premieres the new vocal chamber piece—”Que tus ojos no se cansen de brillar” [May your eyes never tire of shining brightly]—by Puerto Rican composer Gabriel Bouche Caro. This new art song cycle is based on poems by Giannina Braschi (selected by the composer) and other Puerto Rican poets (selected by Braschi) including Angelamaría Dávila, Julia de Burgos, and Pedro Pietri, among others. The concert features Cuban-American soprano vocalist Aliana de la Guardia.

The Americas Society (located at 680 Park Avenue, New York, New York) will host this concert in person on December 9, 2022. Tickets are free, but attendees must register here to reserve seats. See more information below.

Que tus ojos no se cansen de brillar

Puerto Rican composer Gabriel Bouche Caro composed a new song cycle for clarinet, violin, flute, cello, percussion, piano, and voice (soprano). In the words of the composer, “this song cycle, featuring texts by Giannina Braschi (selected by the composer) and other Puerto Rican authors (selected by Braschi), will focus on the idea of “puertorriqueñidad” (what makes one Puerto Rican) and identity in exile.

The composer writes about the piece: “The evening-long work aims to explore the idea of a non-traditional sound world to represent the issue of identity. The style of the music is, at its core, influenced by traditional Puerto Rican music, but it purposefully does not portray these elements clearly. It includes tonal and atonal elements, a variety of textures, and a rich rhythmic structure. The idea behind my work is to represent the wide cultural variety that exists inside the Puerto Rican and Caribbean experience. In this project, it will be evident because of the sonic qualities of the work and also through the variety of styles in text. The text will deal with themes of the history of Puerto Rico, such as colonialism, exile, the beauty of and love for the island, and individual struggle. In the field of “art music” from Puerto Rico, there are not many (if any) evening-long vocal works (excluding opera) that deal with the issue of identity through the lens of colonialism and exile, especially not ones that venture outside the tonal language and evident folk styles. I want to not only expand the vocal repertoire but to broaden the artistic representation of my generation, who has been faced with the culmination of more than half a millennium of colonialism and oppression—to speak for myself and a generation that has felt excluded, abandoned, and even forcibly ousted and to make something that can give back to where we I come from. This piece is an extension of my desire to become more connected with my home and wanting to highlight the issues we face to an audience that may be familiar with them at a base level but has probably never really listened to those that suffer through it. My collaboration with Braschi is also an ongoing one that has allowed me to see some of my ideas about identity clearly represented in text. This has led to a series of compositions (both vocal and instrumental) based on her work.”

Born in Puerto Rico, Gabriel Bouche Caro is based in New York City, where he is a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center. Gabriel explores concepts and perceptions of personal and musical identity through language and the experience of life as part of a colonized people and society. Identity, authenticity in a non-native environment, and foreignness are all tints that color the artistic conception and eventual discourse that is communicated in his work. His music has been performed in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. Gabriel’s music has been featured in the Havana Contemporary Music festival, sound SCAPE, and New Music on the Point festivals. He has been commissioned by the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society, the Canva sounds Collective, and the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts. He has also written music for the renowned soprano Ah Young Hong. His music has been performed by various ensembles and soloists including the JACK Quartet and Evan Runyon. He is the recipient of the Randolph S. Rothschild Award in Composition (Peabody Institute) and the Augusto Rodriguez Prize for musical achievement (University of Puerto Rico). Gabriel holds an MM in Composition from the Peabody Conservatory and a BA in Music from the University of Puerto Rico.

Aliana de la Guardia is a multifaceted Cuban-American artist. She is a soprano vocalist specializing in new music and new opera, an opera producer, an arts leader, as well as a voice teacher and coach. She is an ensemble member, co-founder and Artistic Director of Guerilla Opera, a Boston-based experimental opera ensemble, with which she has produced and performed in many new operas over sixteen years of programming. She also oversees a virtual performance series, professional development programs for artists, and community outreach. As a new music and operatic soprano, she has enjoyed collaborations with Beth Morrison Projects, Center for Contemporary Opera, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston New Music Festival, Dinosaur Annex, Enigma Chamber Opera, Ludovico Ensemble, Monadnock Music, New Gallery Concert Series, Transient Canvas, Winsor Music, and can be heard on commercial releases on Navona and Ravello Records, BMOP Sound and independent labels. [. . .]

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