When pianist and composer Daniel Rojas went to South America in 2008, it was not to tread the tourist trail. He spent a year based in Lima, travelling in the Andes, talking to indigenous musicians and absorbing the music he heard on the street and at festivals; folk, pop and indigenous music. He wants to bring these raw and diverse moods of the streets, festivals and the iconic barrios to the concert hall and his recital this weekend June 23rd is a milestone in the realisation of this vision.
Rojas’ piano recital traverses time and place through the music of Latin America expressed in the intimacy, spontaneity and rhythms of his arrangements and interpretation of traditional Peruvian music, salsa and Argentine tango.
Joining Daniel Rojas will be guest artists Carlos Villanueva playing the charango, the sound of which is instantly identifiable with the Andes, and the ensemble Tigramuna, specialists in contemporary and indigenous Latin American music. The charango, shaped like a small lute and small enough to transport easily, has features of both Western and native cultures. The areas in which it is found follow the major colonial trade routes, suggesting that it was brought to the region by muleteers. Its soundbox is sometimes made of armadillo shell.
On the programme, Rojas has included the iconic Historia del Tango by Astor Piazzolla. “It’s a seminal work by Piazzolla for flute and guitar. It’s hard to transcribe both those parts to the piano and remain true to the original so all four movements are not often heard on the piano, but I’ll be playing them all” he says. Also by Piazzolla, The Resurrection of the Angel and two original works by Rojas, Luna Sobre Miraflores (Moon Over Miraflores), written in Peru during 2008, and Danza de Montaña. Both works are strongly influenced by Afro-Cuban and Peruvian mountain music.
Daniel Rojas holds a Master’s Degree in music, topped by a PhD and is a lecturer in music theory and composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney. Born in Chile, he arrived in Australia with his family when he was 6. The cultural roots of South American music were nurtured by his mother who sang him folk music. He began to accompany her on the piano from an early age and by the time he was 9, he was writing his own arrangements presenting his first recital when he was 11. His under-graduate supervisor at university was Professor Anne Carr-Boyd who encouraged him to improvise and integrate cross-cultural idioms into his music.
Asked about the process of bringing the music of indigenous Latin American festivals to the concert hall, Daniel Rojas says there are two major aspects to consider. One is the energy and the raw passion of the genre; the other is that the sophisticated musical language of this folk style, that has evolved over centuries. He describes one example – ” Take the pan pipe tradition where 10-15 men play in the ensemble. There are various layers in the melody and the harmony, but no single instrumental line is complete. The instruments share and take it in turns to play the melody. the same is true of the bass line. There is harmony, heterophony and polyphony within the music.”
Watch out for his soon to be released CD Latin Piano Expressions.
Daniel Rojas was interviewed by Shamistha de Soysa for Sounds Like Sydney
Pre-concert talk by Dr. Daniel Rojas at 6:30 pm
Tickets $33. Concessions available.
Book on www.cityrecitalhall.com or Phone: (02) 8256 2222