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About this Piece

An “undeniably exciting composer” (Opera News), with “a brilliant command of orchestral timbres and textures” (Dallas Morning News) and “a virtuoso mastery of the modern orchestra” (The New Yorker), Jimmy López (b. 1978) has created works performed by leading orchestras around the world and in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Kennedy Center, Vienna’s Musikverein, Concertgebouw, and Konzerthaus Berlin. His opera Bel Canto, commissioned by Lyric Opera of Chicago, was premiered in December 2015 to wide critical acclaim and broadcast nationwide on PBS’ Great Performances.

This composition originated as a commission from the Minister of Education of Peru, Javier Sota Nadal, on the occasion of the inauguration of the National Library in March 2006. I was convinced that the occasion called for the use of a musical genre with strong links to literature, thus I decided to base my piece upon the poem “Blasón” by José Santos Chocano. The result is a symphonic poem that aims at reflecting Peru’s multicultural roots with the same clarity and strength as the original text. América Salvaje travels across several sonic landscapes of diverse origin in which Andean and European instruments are used. Each section surpasses the previous one in energy and so the whole piece constitutes a permanent crescendo whose culmination is only achieved in the very last section. This piece—in which millenary Andean instruments, contemporary techniques, Afro-Peruvian folklore, and modal/tonal harmonies converge—is an ambitious attempt to reflect the richness and complexity of Peruvian musical heritage. The first sound in the piece is produced by the pututo, an Andean ceremonial instrument that was used to summon the people to events of great relevance, and, generally, of ritual character. In the same way, the pututos are used here to summon the people to an event of historic importance, the opening of an essential cultural institution, the National Library of Peru. —Jimmy López