New work: String Quartet No 1 'Montes'


Llojeta by Fernando Montes (photograph by Vince Harris, reproduced by permission)

This project is a collaboration with the Momenta String Quartet of New York, who will be performing the new piece at the Rock Hall Auditorium, Temple University, Philadelphia, on 28 November.

The title is a homage to the Bolivian painter Fernando Montes, who died in London last January. Even though he spent much of his life in London, Montes's work is a pure and concentrated distillation of the landscape and soul of Bolivia. Looking at his work, aside from deriving great aesthetic pleasure, I feel impelled to reassess my own position vis-à-vis my native country. It is a temptation to aspire to be to Bolivia in music what Montes is to Bolivia in art.

The new string quartet looks the concept of bolivianity in the face, in its many-sided contradictions and with that painful detachment from the physical reality of the country that turns it into an inner world, possibly the biggest component of oneself, but, unlike the real homeland, impossible to share - other than, perhaps, through music, or the paintings of Fernando Montes.

The piece will also be my personal tribute to a very dear friend, and an embrace of support to his widow Marcela, his daughter Sarita and his son Juan Enrique (also an excellent artist), old allies in friendship and cultural adventures.

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