Thursday, August 1, 2019

EarShot Aguascalientes Symphony - Composer Spotlight: Juan José Bárcenas

Composer and multimedia-sound artist Juan José Bárcenas (he/him) was born in Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico. He started studying composition n 1990 with Dr. Felipe De las Casas, Dr. Mauricio Beltrán Miranda, and Dr. Ignacio Baca-Lobera. 

His work is characterized by extreme fluctuation in sound. He currently lives in the city of Santiago de Querétaro and works as an electronic performer, composer, sound engineer and multimedia artist. Since 2006, he has taught composition, harmony, counterpoint and audition training at CEDART “Ignacio Mariano de las Casas” and CUCM-UAQ (University Center for Musical Creation), which he founded in 2018 together with the artist collective INTERCICLOS. His music has been released internationally on multiple labels, including Luna Negra Records and NEOS-Germany.

Juan's piece La muerte Camina (Los murmullos) was selected for the 
Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra EarShot New Music Readings, which takes place August 12-14, 2019 in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Juan spoke to us about the readings and his piece.

Composer Juan José Bárcenas

Translated from Spanish to English by Stephanie Polonio


American Composers Orchestra: What was your reaction to finding out your piece had been selected for the Aguascalientes EarShot New Music Readings?

Juan José Bárcenas: Para mi, fue una noticia maravillosa, esta es una obra creada como parte del programa nacional del Sistema Nacional de Creadores Artísticos de México en su emisión 2019-2021. Esta era una obra sin estrenar y que aún no tenía destino para su estreno, y la experiencia de encontrarlo en este programa tan valioso con una gran orquesta y un gran director, me fue significante, y apoya mi trayectoria y curriculum.

Translation: For me, it was wonderful news, this is a work created as part of the national program of the National System of Artistic Creators of Mexico in its 2019-2021 broadcast. This was an unreleased work and I still had no destination for its premiere, and the experience of finding it in this valuable program with a great orchestra and a great conductor, was significant to me, and supports my career and curriculum.

ACO: What are you doing to prepare for the readings? Are there any changes you have made to your piece since you found out it would be performed by the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra?

JJB: Actualmente ha sido un proceso muy complejo, pues justamente en esta semanas, me encuentro gestionando un festival Internacional de Música Nueva  en mi ciudad, ”INTERCICLOS 2019”, y los tiempos se me han cerrado y complicado en ambas cosas, estoy muy feliz de realizar ambas, pero el tiempo ha sido apremiante. Asimismo, han sido necesarios varios cambios, en cuanto a las plantillas visuales, con el propósito de mejorar la lectura y practica de la obra, los cambios han sido en disposición de espacios visuales.

Translation: Currently it has been a very complex process, because in this week, I am managing an International New Music festival in my city, “INTERCICLOS 2019”, and the times have closed and complicated in both, I am very happy to perform both, but time has been pressing. Also, several changes have been necessary, in terms of visual templates, in order to improve the reading and practice of the work, the changes have been available to visual spaces.

ACO: What are you looking forward to about the workshops and readings? What do you hope to learn from the experience?

JJB: Los intercambios con diferentes maneras de pensar y concebir la música, así como diferentes actos y manifestaciones estéticas, siempre otorgan espacios muy interesantes de reflexión, aprendizaje y adiestramiento sobre la manera de pensar y resolver las ideas musicales. Así como momento muy espléndidos de retroalimentación con compañeros artistas.

Translation: Exchanges with different ways of thinking and conceiving music, as well as different acts and aesthetic manifestations, always providing very interesting spaces for reflection, learning and training on the way of thinking and solving musical ideas. As well as very splendid moment of feedback with fellow artists.

ACO: You have experience writing electroacoustic music and as an "electronic performer." In your opinion, what are the similarities between writing electronic music and writing for orchestra?

JJB: Si tengo mucha experiencia en el campo de la música electroacústica, en mi experiencia, ha sido fundamental en mi concepción del fenómeno “tímbrico”, una de las características provechosas de la “electroacústica” es la libertad de crear “fluctuaciones de modo diametral” (muy veloz), en el pensamiento multi-parametrico (timbre, color, ritmo, masa, densidad), a velocidades brutalmente rápidas. Utilizo procesos parecidos en mi acercamiento a la músca exclusivamente acústica, es un gran reto, trabajar en múltiples velocidades, traduciendo los retos electrónicos a los procesos acústicos.

Translation: If I have a lot of experience in the field of electroacoustic music, in my experience, it has been fundamental in my conception of the “timbral” phenomenon, one of the helpful characteristics of “electroacoustic” is the freedom to create “diametral fluctuations” (very fast), in multi-parametric thinking (timbre, color, rhythm, mass, density), at brutally fast speeds. I use similar processes in my approach to exclusively acoustic music, it is a great challenge, to work in multiple speeds, translating electronic challenges to acoustic processes.

ACO: Can you talk about what it means, to you, to be a Mexican composer?

JJB: México es un país lleno de una belleza artística interminable, pintores, escritores, cineastas, bailarines y músicos llenos de talento, que pueden competir en cuanto a calidad, constancia y perfección  a cualquier nivel y contra cualquier país. Creo que es un reto grande, constante y del día a día, estar en constante perfeccionamiento y desarrollo, para no desestimar  o apartarme, de la fuerza y calidad de los artistas en mi país. Soy muy orgulloso de mi país y de los artistas que en este hay; mi aspiración es la búsqueda para estar al nivel de ellos.

Translation: Mexico is a country full of endless artistic beauty, painters, writers, filmmakers, dancers and musicians full of talent, who can compete in terms of quality, perseverance and perfection at any level and against any country. I think it is a big, constant and day-to-day challenge, to be constantly improving and developing, so as not to dismiss or depart from the strength and quality of artists in my country. I am very proud of my country and the artists there are; My aspiration is to continue striving to be at their level.

Juan's piece La muerte Camina (Los murmullos) will be workshopped and performed at the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra EarShot New Music Readings, which takes place August 12-14, 2019 in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Follow Juan José Bárcenas on Soundcloud



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