Mark your calendars, because the spring of 2015 is going to see the release, on Harmonia Mundi, of the first album dedicated entirely to my orchestral works. The pieces included are Perú Negro, Lord of the Air, Synesthésie and América Salvaje, all of them performed by Conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK) under the supervision of Recording Engineer Geoff Miles. In fact, I just came back from Oslo where I spent a few days attending the recording sessions. It was amazing to work on what will serve as a reference for future performances and recordings of these works.
Right after my arrival to Oslo on Sunday, April 27th, I met with Miguel and Jesús Castro-Balbi, our soloist for Lord of the Air, the cello concerto. We discussed and planned our schedule for the week and decided to start our Monday morning with a listening session of Synesthésie, which Miguel had begun to rehearse right before my arrival. After I gave my feedback, we decided to leave that piece for the following day and concentrate on the first half of Perú Negro instead. We spent most of Monday on Perú Negro and the 1st movement of Lord of the Air. On Tuesday we worked on the 3rd and 4th movements of the cello concerto (plus the cadenza) and on Wednesday we recorded the 2nd movement and finished the session with the second half of Perú Negro. América Salvaje had already been recorded about a year ago by the same musicians.
Also on Wednesday we gave a private concert at the studio for a select audience of diplomats. The mini concert was also being recorded so Geoff could have an additional take of each piece from start to finish. During his introductory remarks Miguel said that it had been “a luxury to have the composer present throughout the recording sessions”. Right before the last piece on the program, when it was my turn to speak, I said: “Miguel said earlier that it had been a luxury to have me during the recording sessions, but in fact the real luxury is to have Miguel and this fantastic orchestra play and record my works. I can’t even express how moved I am”. I still feel that way.
Perú Negro was played last and, while listening to it, all these memories came back to me. Miguel and I met each other when I was still in high school, full of hopes and dreams, working hard on my skills so that one day I could become a professional composer. Back then I was just a teenager trying my best to convince Maestro Harth-Bedoya to conduct my music. Obviously I wasn’t ready for that yet, but after a conversation with my dad, Miguel decided to allow me into the Lima Philharmonic as an assistant to its librarian, Marino Martínez, and that allowed me to attend countless rehearsals and performances where, score in hand, I learned the craft of orchestration. Of course I also did all sorts of things, from making copies to delivering flowers on stage, but all of that contributed to my growth as a musician.
Another strong flashback came to me one night in Oslo, while I was working with Miguel. Earlier that day we had discovered that some of the orchestral parts were not up to date, so we had to sit down at the lobby of the hotel correcting them. It was late at night and Miguel and I were packed with pencils, erasers and sheet music spread all over the table when, suddenly, I remembered practically that exact same scene from 18 years ago, when I was working at the Lima Philharmonic. At that moment I felt as if a whole episode of my life had come full circle. Here I was, no longer a teenager but a composer in his mid-thirties, sitting with Miguel and working together on my own music for a recording with a top orchestra in Norway. That’s when I though to myself: “how much I’d give to go back in time and tell my old self: ‘it will all be alright’”. On the other hand, I guess it was better this way; one never knows what the future has in store for us, and sometimes it surpasses our expectations.
I spent my two remaining days in Oslo with Margarita Ludeña, an old friend from Lima whom I had not seen in 17 years, and who had also worked at the Lima Philharmonic during the mid-nineties. Margarita now lives in Oslo with her husband and she took a couple of afternoons off to show me around. We went to many different spots including the new Opera House, the Viking Ship Museum, the original Kon-tiki raft where Thor Heyerdahl and his crew sailed all the way from Peru to Polynesia in 1947, and the Munch Museum where I got more acquainted with the works of Norway’s brilliant dark master.
All in all it was a formidable trip and one that will remain in my memory because of its personal and professional significance. I will be meeting with Robina Young, Vice President & Artistic Director of Harmonia Mundi USA here in Berkeley in early June. We will then discuss more details about the album and its release date. I’ll make sure to keep my Facebook page up to date.
Alle de beste!