06 July 2008

The Spirit of the Andes

Verónica Souto. Photograph by Richard Strike

While on the subject of the Momenta Quartet’s performance of my String Quartet No. 1 ‘Montes’, I recommend a beautiful film: The Spirit of the Andes by Verónica Souto. It is a documentary on the life and work of Fernando Montes, the painter.

The film charts a life’s progress from bohemian La Paz in the 1930s to life as a student in Buenos Aires, world-watching in London cafés in the 1960s and ending with the high-profile international exhibitions in Montes’s mature years. Throughout, the film explores the constant concern with the Andean landscape, which Montes developed into a very personal approach characterised by subtle introspection and simplicity.

It will be shown on Saturday 12 July at 6PM in Culture Lab, Newcastle University.

03 July 2008

Momenta in Newcastle!

Photograph by John Gurrin

I am thrilled to announce that the Momenta Quartet, unforgettable heroes of the première of of my String Quartet last year in Philadelphia, will be in Newcastle in the flesh. They will be taking part in the ¡Vamos! Festival with two performances.

On Friday 11 July the Momenta will take part in the festival launch at Northern Stage, playing my Montes and an array of other new Latin American music. The violist Stephanie Griffin and the cellist Joanne Lin will stun their audience with two solo pieces by the Brazilian maverick Arthur Kampela. You can actually see and hear one of them, Bridges for solo viola, on Kampela's myspace page. This programme will also include Oleajes by the Colombian composer Alba Potes, and the world première of a new work by my fellow Bolivian Cergio Prudencio. Cergio is currently the most active composer in Bolivia, and he has secured a place in history by co-founding - with his brother José Luis - and work for three decades as the musical director of the Experimental Orchestra of Native Instruments (OEIN). This evening there will be plenty of other musical goodies on offer, which you can look up on the ¡Vamos! Festival programme.

On Saturday 12 July the Momenta will play at King's Hall, Newcastle University. My String Quartet No 1 'Montes' will get a second airing, preceded by another impressive selection out of the Momenta's contemporary repertoire, including two very new pieces written for them by composers based here in the Northeast of England. These will be chosen out of a workshop I have organised with students from Newcastle and Durham universities: Matthew Rowan, Helen Papaioannou, Tom Albans and Eric Egan. Which of these will be chosen? That will be the surprise of the evening. The programme will also include Instantes by the young Venezuelan composer Manena Contreras and Four Pieces for String Quartet one of the fathers of contemporary Cuban music, Alejandro García Caturla.

Connected with the Momenta visit and with my work, there will be a screening of the beautiful documentary by Verónica Souto The Spirit of the Andes exploring the life and work of the Bolivian painter Fernando Montes. This will be at Newcastle University's Culture Lab. The eminent director will be with us to introduce her film.

Details and tickets are available on the ¡Vamos! website. Or you can book directly with Northern Stage, by clicking here or phoning 0191 230 5151.

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