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Monday, January 17, 2011

Post-Modern Avant Garde Latin American Music - Coriun Aharonian

The Uruguayan composer and musicologist, Coriun Aharonian came to the university to give a series of lectures on the future of contemporary music and how it defies the categorical frameworks of "Historical Post-Modernism."  It was, despite the language barrier, a great and interesting lecture series.  I was very surprised that Aharonian chose to give the lectures entirely in French--the surprise factor has to do with the fact that most Uruguayans are fluent in English, as English is considered the second official language of Uruguay.  At any rate, what follows is a rough translation of Aharonian's answer to the question: "You have been confined to live in the present cultural and historical epoch... how has that affected the evolution of your work?"  My translation is as accurate as I could get it down.  The excessive use of ellipses [....] injected throughout is an effort to capture the conversational and vocal nuances.

Q&A (student):  "You have been confined to live in the present cultural and historical epoch... how has that affected the evolution of your work?"


Maestro Aharonian: "I am not sure if there has been an evolution or a devolution, but I have had to live some unique stages of an epoch of change and intense discussion which I always find positive.... I have had to adapt to situations of inheritance regarding the nationalist impulses of the times when I was a child and beyond the reactionary processes against that nationalism by the generation of my musical 'fathers....'  I began searching for a new universalist Euro-centrism in order to react against something that was a 'decorative postcard' and a search for identity that is not decorative in nature, that is not superficial, that is not banal.... In this sense, a large quantity of language aspects develop along the members of my generation (also in the previous and in the one that follows).... There have been coincidences in various language elements which perhaps also appear in my work.... For example, the measure and management of time, the importance of silence as a sound space, the non-discursive processes of language (this is very important), the construction of expressive blocks and the appearance of an interest for repetitive elements that are not repeated in a mechanical manner is also a very important distinction that separates us from the Anglo-Saxon minimalist movement.  Thereafter, there was an interest for both the violent and at the same time for the small and delicate thing, not understanding them in opposition or exclusive.... [My work] has been a dialogue with a European vision that consider us primitive; that is to say, the other cultures that in the case of Latin America those cultures are our own.... [T]he relationships with technologies that are always so difficult in the developed countries but even more so in the Third World.... in that respect, the Third World has had a more natural management than that of my colleagues in the Developed World [here Aharonian uses the more typical but less politically correct 'First World' and 'Third World' to distinguish between the two cultures].... I believe we realized, before our First World counterparts, that the use of new technologies is not in opposition or substitutes vocal or instrumental music in composition.... I have been in search of the sincere interest for breaking frontiers of language in the rediscovery of the magic of those esoteric things that appear as such but really aren't.  It is the taking charge of the ideology and the polemic in general.  I am trying to write pieces that have been floating around me and around many of my colleagues--all of these things leave me both emotionally charged and spent at the same time."

Again, my most sincere apologies for a translation lacking grammatical coherence.  I have tried to get the main ideas right and because of this other textual elements have been ignored.

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