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Javier Alvarez (1956-     )

Javier Alvarez, composerIn the words of composer John Adams, “The music of Javier Alvarez reveals influences of popular cultures that go beyond the borders of our own time and place.”  Alvarez is one of the best-known Mexican composers of his generation and many of the works in his prolific oeuvre combine the intricacies of music technology with diverse instruments and influences from around the world. Born in Mexico City, Alvarez studied clarinet and composition with Mario Lavista before moving to the United States in the early 80’s and subsequently to Great Britain, where he attended the Royal College of Music and the City University in London. His first electroacoustic works date from this time, such as Temazcal  (1984). In this contemporary classic, Alvarez unexpectedly pits a pair of maracas against a complex electroacoustic backdrop.  Mannam (1992) takes its inspiration from the other side of the globe and the ancient Korean zither, kayagum. Winner of a 1993 Prix Ars  Electronica distiinction, Mannam  blends and juxtaposes elements of Korean music with materials and performance techniques drawn from the Mexican folk harp.  Offrande (2001), a more recent work, offers an intriguing mix of Caribbean steel pans and electronically processed rhythmic patterns. A number of Alvarez’s works incorporate elements from Latin American dance genres, like the mambo.  In Mambo a la Braque (1991), he creates an electroacoustic collage of musical segments drawn from Cuban mambo composer Dámaso Perez Prado’s “Caballo Negro” (Black Horse).  On a larger scale, Alvarez’s Papalotl (1987), for piano and electroacoustic sounds, makes reference to the wider world of dance through its use of complex rhythmic patterns in a carefully synchronized duet between pianist and electroacoustics.  The resulting vibrant toccata won its composer the 1987 ICEM Prize in Paris as well as awards from the Bourges International Festival and Austria’s Prix Ars Electronica. Amongst his orchestral and concerti output, Geometría Foliada (2003), written as a concerto for the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, reminisces on the vernacular, but assimilates its influences in an evocative self-invented imaginary folklore.

COMPOSITIONS                                                            Alvarez Links     ~ ~ ~     Works by Genre
Canciones de la Venta, soprano, violin, viola and mexican jarana or baroque guitar (1977)
Amor es mas Laberinto, chorus and orchestra (1978)
Recintos, wind ensemble (1981)
Ayara, bassoon and string quartet (1981)
Tres ranas contra reloj, soprano, violin, cello and and piano (1981)
Caracteristicas, flute, oboe, cello and piano (1982)
Te espera esa Chispa, chorus and ensemble (1982)
Trireme, french horn and orchestra (1983)
Ki Bone Gaku, trombone and marimba (1984)
Lluvia de Toritos, flute (1984)
Fragmentos de Hueso, soprano, flute, ssax, bass clarinet and viola (1984)
Temazcal, amplified maracas and electroacoustic sounds (1984)
Tientos, flute/picc, clarinet, violin, cello and and piano (1985)
Tid-Tug, animated film score (1985)
The Panama Files, electroacoustic sounds (1986) [in collaboration with In Dearden]
Metro Chabacano, string orchestra (1987) [arr. for string quartet, 1991]
Papalotl, piano and electroacoustic sounds (1987)
Edge Dance, electroacoustic sounds (1987) [in collaboration with In Dearden]
On going on, baritone saxophone and electroacoustic sounds (1987)
The Empire of Form, computer animation score (1987)
Appearance, dance work (1988)
Quemar las Naves, ssax, trumpet,  trombone, bass guitar, piano, drums and  hand percussion (1988; rev. 1991)
Asi el acero, amplified tenor steelpan and electroacoustic sounds (1988)
Acuerdos por Diferencia, harp and electroacoustic sounds (1989)
Animal Crackers, 2 sopranos, baritone, viola and piano (1990)
Mambo à la Bracque, electroacoustic sounds (1990)
Gramática de Dos, orchestra (1991)
Chaconna, viola  and harpsichord (1991)
Mannan, kayagum (Korean zither) and electroacosutic sounds (1992)
Cronos (The Cronos Device/La Invención de Cronos), film score (1992)
Música para piel y palangana, percussion and orchestra (1993)
Mambo Vinko, trombone and electroacoustic sounds (1993)
Acordeón de Roto Corazón, saxophone quartet (1994)
Metro Taxqueña, string quartet (1994)
Calacas Imaginarias, chorus and electroacoustic sounds (1994)
Serpiente y Escalera, cello and piano (1995)
Overture, electroacoustic sounds (1995)
Pyramid, any number of instruments and electroacoustic sounds (1996)
Nocturno y Toque, 2 steel pans and 2 marimbas (1997)
Metro Nativitas, string quartet (1999)
Modelo para Armar, ssax, asax, bsax, 2 baroque guitars and 2 percussionists (2000)
Offrande, tenor & baritone steel pans and electroacoustic sounds (2000)
Mambo, opera (1989-2001)
n mambo, piano (2001)
Shekere, shekere gourd and live control system (2001)
Geometría Foliada, string quartet  and orchestra (2002)
Estudio # 5, tenor steel pan (2002)
Recylce loops, young percussion players and electroacoustic sounds (2002)
cylinder clouds/, installation, 3 flutes and electroacoustic sounds (2002)
Cactus Geometries, electroacoustic sounds (2002)
Mantis Walk in Metal Space, percussion soloist, instrumental ensemble, real time electronics &  electroacoustic sounds (2003)
Le repas du Serpent & Retour a la Raison, cello, video and electroacoustic sounds (2004)
Triple enclave, piano (2004)
Trompatufarria al Pastor, french horn quartet (2005)
Negro Fuego y Cruzado, 2 bass clarinets, video and electroacoustic sounds (2008)


WORKS BY GENRE                                                            Alvarez Links     ~ top of page ~
Dramatic/Theater
Appearance, dance work (1988)
Mambo, opera (1989-2001)

Orchestra or Large Ensemble
Metro Chabacano, string orchestra (1987) [from original for string quartet]
Gramática de Dos, orchestra (1991)
Mantis Walk in Metal Space, percussion soloist, instrumental ensemble, real time electronics &  electroacoustic sounds (2003)

Band
Recintos, wind ensemble (1981)

Soloist(s) w/Orchestra
Trireme, french horn and orchestra (1983)
Música para piel y palangana, percussion and orchestra (1993)
Geometría Foliada, string quartet  and orchestra (2002)

Chorus w/Orchestra
Amor es mas Laberinto, chorus and orchestra (1978)
Te espera esa Chispa, chorus and ensemble (1982)

Choral
Calacas Imaginarias, chorus and electroacoustic sounds (1994)

Chamber
Ayara, bassoon and string quartet (1981)
Caracteristicas, flute, oboe, cello and piano (1982)
Ki Bone Gaku, trombone and marimba (1984)
Tientos, flute/picc, clarinet, violin, cello and and piano (1985)
Quemar las Naves, ssax, trumpet,  trombone, bass guitar, piano, drums and  hand percussion (1988; rev. 1991)
Metro Chabacano, string quartet (1991)
Acordeón de Roto Corazón, saxophone quartet (1994)
Metro Taxqueña, string quartet (1994)
Nocturno y Toque, 2 steel pans and 2 marimbas (1997)
Metro Nativitas, string quartet (1999)
Modelo para Armar, ssax, asax, bsax, 2 baroque guitars and 2 percussionists (2000)
Recylce loops, young percussion players and electroacoustic sounds (2002)
cylinder clouds/, installation, 3 flutes and electroacoustic sounds (2002)
Trompatufarria al Pastor, french horn quartet (2005)
Negro Fuego y Cruzado, 2 bass clarinets, video and electroacoustic sounds (2008)

Solo Instrument
Lluvia de Toritos, flute (1984)
Temazcal, amplified maracas and electroacoustic sounds (1984)
On going on, baritone saxophone and electroacoustic sounds (1987)
Asi el acero, amplified tenor steelpan and electroacoustic sounds (1988)
Acuerdos por Diferencia, harp and electroacoustic sounds (1989)
Chaconna, viola  and harpsichord (1991)
Mannan, kayagum (Korean zither) and electroacosutic sounds (1992)
Mambo Vinko, trombone and electroacoustic sounds (1993)
Serpiente y Escalera, cello and piano (1995)
Pyramid, any number of instruments and electroacoustic sounds (1996)
Offrande, tenor & baritone steel pans and electroacoustic sounds (2000)
Shekere, shekere gourd and live control system (2001)
Estudio # 5, tenor steel pan (2002)
Le repas du Serpent & Retour a la Raison, cello, video and electroacoustic sounds (2004)

Piano
Papalotl, piano and electroacoustic sounds (1987)
n mambo, piano (2001)
Triple enclave, piano (2004)

Vocal
Canciones de la Venta, soprano, violin, viola and mexican jarana or baroque guitar (1977)
Tres ranas contra reloj, soprano, violin, cello and and piano (1981)
Fragmentos de Hueso, soprano, flute, ssax, bass clarinet and viola (1984)
Animal Crackers, 2 sopranos, baritone, viola and piano (1990)

Incidental/Film
Tid-Tug, animated film score (1985)
The Empire of Form, computer animation score (1987)
Cronos (The Cronos Device/La Invención de Cronos), film score (1992)

Electronic
Temazcal, amplified maracas and electroacoustic sounds (1984)
The Panama Files, electroacoustic sounds (1986) [in collaboration with In Dearden]
Papalotl, piano and electroacoustic sounds (1987)
Edge Dance, electroacoustic sounds (1987) [in collaboration with In Dearden]
On going on, baritone saxophone and electroacoustic sounds (1987)
Asi el acero, amplified tenor steelpan and electroacoustic sounds (1988)
Acuerdos por Diferencia, harp and electroacoustic sounds (1989)
Mambo à la Bracque, electroacoustic sounds (1990)
Mannan, kayagum (Korean zither) and electroacosutic sounds (1992)
Mambo Vinko, trombone and electroacoustic sounds (1993)
Calacas Imaginarias, chorus and electroacoustic sounds (1994)
Overture, electroacoustic sounds (1995)
Pyramid, any number of instruments and electroacoustic sounds (1996)
Offrande, tenor & baritone steel pans and electroacoustic sounds (2000)
Shekere, shekere gourd and live control system (2001)
Recylce loops, young percussion players and electroacoustic sounds (2002)
cylinder clouds/, installation, 3 flutes and electroacoustic sounds (2002)
Cactus Geometries, electroacoustic sounds (2002)
Le repas du Serpent & Retour a la Raison, cello, video and electroacoustic sounds (2004)
Negro Fuego y Cruzado, 2 bass clarinets, video and electroacoustic sounds (2008)


ALVAREZ  LINKS                                                            Works by Genre      ~ top of page ~

Composer's website

Alvarez @ Answers.com
Alvarez @ andybliss.net
Alvarez @ Ars Electronica
Alvarez @ Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music
Alvarez @ Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Alvarez @ Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
Alvarez @ Chamber Music Albuquerque
Alvarez @ Classical Archives
Alvarez @ CrossSound
Alvarez @ electro.cd
Alvarez @ Fulcrum Point
Alvarez @ Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges (IMEB)
Alvarez @ London Sinfonietta
Alvarez @ MusicWeb International
Alvarez @ MySpaceMusic
Alvarez @ sfSound

Streaming Audio
Alvarez @ CBC/Concerts on Demand
Alvarez @ Classical Archives

Recordings
Alvarez @ ArkivMusic
Alvarez @ ClassicsOnline
Alvarez @ Discogs

Alvarez @ YouTube
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