Nocturno Eléctrico Program Notes

“To be such as the strings the night produces its soundscapes with”

After the premiere of Amanece, Artistic Director of Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra José Areán and I agreed to create a new piece for electric guitar and orchestra. I was very keen on working again with Maestro Areán and the OFCM, as well as the opportunity to have Alejandro Marcovich as soloist. I was also enticed by the challenge of exploring new sonic blends between the orchestral instruments and the electric guitar. One of the first questions I asked myself prior to composing this piece was what kind of character and role I wanted the electric guitar to play within an orchestra framework. Styles and techniques for playing electric guitar are plentiful and incredibly diverse, each with its own peculiarities. I find that the virtue of some guitar players is their ability to adapt and reinvent the instrument to better express their musical understanding, approach, and creativity. Such is the case of guitarist Alejandro Marcovich, who throughout the years has developed what we could call a “sound signature,” immediately recognizable by those listening him play. There is one specific feature within Marcovich’s unique expressive palette I sympathize with the most: his ability for turning the electric guitar into an intimate instrument. This is noticeable by the fact that he is gradually favoring fingerpicking over using the pelcrum in order to achieve a closer relationship with the strings and the wood of the guitar. It is such an amplified intimacy what I wanted explore and develop with my Nocturno Eléctrico. The piece consists of six sections and a coda. Odd sections share the same kind of harmonic material (though transposed), and the same happens for the even sections (yet permuted). Odd sections have a more exploratory character. Each one of the odd sections uses melodic motifs and digital techniques highlighting the electric guitar’s most diverse expressive possibilities. In opposition, even sections share a more contemplative nature. Here, the guitar joins the orchestra—at times blending into it—creating a music language achieved by the alternation of several different colors within a single harmony, and the varying orchestral densities. The coda emphasizes a certain harmonic fullness calling to mind reminiscences of the previous sections. The rhapsodic character of this music, the specific atmosphere assigned to each section, and the overall form of the piece led me to the idea of a nocturno to which Alejandro’s performance would bring an electric poetry and dimension. I wouldn’t like to end these notes without expressing deep gratitude to Maestro José Areán for his huge efforts as conductor and for his unique artistic vision. The serious and rigorous environment he has provided for the musical creation is of utmost importance.