Alexis Cuadrado’s “A Lorca Soundscape” scored in Sibelius, premieres in New York this month

Alexis Cuadrado (photo © Álvaro Felgueroso)

A Lorca Soundscape is a new work by bassist-composer Alexis Cuadrado, reflecting on Federico Garcia Lorca‘s 1930 book Poeta en Nueva York with a series of jazz pieces that use the poetry by as lyrics. To be premiered at the Center for Latino Arts and Culture at Rutgers University in New York on 27 March, the work was commissioned by Chamber Music America as part of its New Jazz Works programme.

Lorca lived in NYC for a few months in 1929-30 and he wrote a heartfelt set of poems that reflect on the cultural shock and loneliness that he experienced at the time. The book is a raw social commentary that connects with themes that are still an important part of the American reality today such as the economic inequalities or racial-social discrimination or the brutality of the urban landscape. Poeta en Nueva York deeply connects with the current socio-economic climate, the “Occupy” movement, and the general discontent of the populace at how our system is working. The premiere of this piece, also coincides with the 75th anniversary of García-Lorca’s death. He was assassinated in 1936 by the military forces that were about to rule Spain for the next 40-plus years.

After the jump, find out how Alexis used Sibelius to help bring this commission to fruition.

“Sibelius has been now my composing companion for a few years, and I’ve gotten so used to some of the features that I cannot really conceive carrying out a project without it,” he told me. “It was a bit challenging to get used to the new ribbon interface in Sibelius 7 at first. However, something really funny happened: I had to work on Sibelius 6 at the conservatory where I teach here in NY, and suddenly I really missed the ribbon! Once I figured out the key tip shortcuts that I use the most, my workflow sped up considerably, so kudos to the ribbon!”

Alexis had never previously written for a vocalist, so it was his first time using some of Sibelius’s features for working with vocal and choral music. “I’ve been through a crash course on lyric input and edition, and I must say that it’s been incredibly easy to deal with lyrics in Sibelius. I’ve used all methods of inputting lyrics–from a text file, typing, and pasting phrase by phrase–as I was editing the music often, and I loved the flexibility that the software has given me to deal with lyrics.”

To produce mock-ups, Alexis sang the compositions himself over audio tracks exported directly from Sibelius. “The beautiful sound quality of the new Sibelius 7 Sounds library has been an amazing asset. I was exporting tracks from Sib7 and mixing them with the real audio I was producing in Pro Tools. I’ve been able to send some really great-sounding demos to the musicians collaborating in this project, and they all commented on how good the piano and drums sounds were.”

“Finally, I have become so used to the versions feature. In this one particular piece I had three different drum-bass feels that I was hearing, and made three different versions that I could just A-B-C at any time. It was of such an invaluable help to have the capacity of sitting back and dive into the music as a listener rather than as the composer.”

Alexis sums up his experience of using Sibelius on this project like this: “Thank you Sibelius! It would have taken me quite a few weeks longer to complete this without your help!”

If you would like to attend the premiere, contact the CLAC at Rutgers University for more information. For more information about Alexis himself, visit his web site.

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