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Composer José Evangelista handed away on Jan. 10, 2023. As a tribute to him, we republish our interview and article about his legacy from our October 2017 problem bellow.
José Evangelista – Composer in Fixed Evolution
by Adrian Rodriguez,
Commercial / Publicité
José Evangelista is a composer who completely represents the cultural range and historic background of Canada and Montreal. Within the early Seventies Evangelista was, like many Spaniards of his technology, in the hunt for a greater high quality of life and attempting to flee the Spanish dictatorship of Francisco Franco.
Coming to Canada,he says, was not a straight line. “It was like this,” as he mimics a crooked bumpy street. “It was a mix of circumstances as a result of I’m an ex-scientist. I’ve a Masters in nuclear physics. I used to be given a bursary to go research in Geneva on the European Group for Nuclear Analysis, CERN, a big centre for scientific analysis.”
Again dwelling in Spain, Franco’s lengthy dictatorship was nonetheless going sturdy, so Evangelista and his spouse determined to Ottawa.
As soon as settled in Canada, and after gaining financial and political stability, he mirrored on his life path and profession. ”At one level I sat down and mentioned to myself: I’m virtually 30 years previous, its time to find out my profession, I ought to goback to music.” His first concept was to change into a music instructor. In any case, previously he had studied at Valencia’s Conservatory, the place he had received first prize in music composition in 1967. He studied there together with his father-in-law, Vicente Asencio, a widely known composer of guitar and piano works.
Wishing to resume his music research, Evangelista enrolled in a Masters program in music on the College of Montreal, the place he studied below the steering of André Prévost. He went on to McGill College to finish a Doctorate below Bruce Mather. Quickly sufficient his compositions started to win beneficial discover and he accrued a number of necessary awards. As nicely, commissions got here in from necessary ensembles. Now, a long time later, José Evangelista is acknowledged as each an achieved composer and instructor.
Evangelista doesn’t have a scientific technique for composing. As an alternative, he guides himself by a number of philosophical rules: fixed introspection, a steady seek for creative inspiration, and consciously not repeating one thing achieved previously.
“What’s necessary is to be coherent. As an alternative of writing tonal music simply because it sounds good, we should always write with a language that appears to be acquainted to the listener however in actuality, after we analyze the rating, shouldn’t be. We’ve to watch out to not fall into the banality of academism, by which I imply to work constantly with issues that exist already, issues that don’t ask for any type of creative reflection. It’s a really prudent means of composing!”
All through the primary physique of the composer’s work we could establish as a typical function using a heterophonic texture, characterised by simultaneous variations of a single melodic line. This system might also be seen as a sophisticated type of monophony, in which there’s one important and lengthy melodic line appearing as a type of cantus firmus that’s performed on the identical time in numerous voices, however with a number of variations to create an phantasm of concord.
“At one level, once I was younger, I used to be shocked to appreciate that what I used to be listening to was in actuality some type of tremendous melody that existed just about, so I may have two kinds of totally different readings of the musical excerpt: A technique is to view it as juxtaposed variants of the melody and one other is to interpret them as being melodies which might be completely totally different from one another. I really like that type of ambiguity!”
He additionally feedback on using cantus firmus. “It’s an historic composition method that comes from the Center Ages and the starting of the Renaissance. It’s the concept that a musical piece relies on one melody or frequent tone that kinds the bottom of the entire musical composition. It’s a really great tool as a result of it’s common. It may well’t be related to any explicit aesthetic, so one can apply it to any style, from rock to romantic or baroque.”
At present he has continued to develop on the thought of ambiguity and heterophony. He cites his Accelerando for example of how he has been creating these concepts. This piece was commissioned and carried out final yr by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO) to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Montreal’s metro system.
“I continued searching for new nuances. Then it occurred to me that I may do a bit through which I may use a really lengthy melody of about 70 or extra notes that in actuality, after we do a vertical studying on it, is without delay each melodic and harmonic … I had actually good fashions. Alexander Scriabin, for instance, used to say that his melody is concord and his concord is melody. In his extra superior items one can observe that quite a lot of passages will be learn each vertically and horizontally.”
The Gamelan Affect
Whereas exploring Evangelista’s repertoire, we shortly discover using an unique palette of colors. The truth is, a lot of his items are impressed by the music of Indonesia, the place he spent a number of summers finding out Javanese Gamelan and Burmese piano. “I take into account it as the right music. On one facet it’s very refined and might fulfill the mind, and on the opposite facet it’s very direct. When one hears it, one has an fast response, with out understanding why.”
Over time his ardour for Gamelan expanded, and in 1986 he based the Atelier de Musique Gamelan on the College of Montreal.
He explains the way it all started: “The thought of bringing a Gamelan group to Montreal was very engaging to me, as a result of I thought of it could be an excellent factor for the scholars. However the college had no cash, so we made an association with the Indonesian authorities. We introduced them right here to advertise their tradition in a global arts fare. They introduced an necessary variety of musicians and devices. After they left, they donated the entire latter as a part of the alternate.” He goes on to elucidate that the Indonesian musicians left two stunning units of Gamelan metallophones, which he instantly used to open the workshop.
Since then, the Gamelan Workshop has change into a extremely popular course on the College of Montreal. “Some college students even go to India to specialize and get extra data.” He additionally explains one of the crucial necessary parts of studying music in India, a component that in his opinion shouldn’t be nicely developed within the western music academic world: memorization. “Within the Gamelan custom, having the ability to play by coronary heart is at all times required. The truth is once I began finding out it, I quickly realized that my capability for memorizing grew significantly, way more than I ever thought potential. It’s an oral custom. There’s nothing on paper, so one is compelled to study by coronary heart.”
Clos de vie
One in every of Evangelista’s most acclaimed compositions is Clos de vie. Commissioned by the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) and performed by Serge Garant in November 1983, this work acquired a commendation from the worldwide panel of composers of UNESCO in 1984. He devoted this piece in reminiscence of his good friend and colleague Claude Vivier, who died tragically in 1983 at age of 34.
The 2 composers have been very shut comrades. In 1978, for instance, they co-founded Événements du neuf, a company dedicated to selling the numerous traits of latest music.
Evangelista confides in a mellow but emotional voice, “Clos de vie is one piece that I wrote in very painful circumstances. I had misplaced my good friend, Claude Vivier. We had been working collectively so much in these years. That piece introduced out a way of nostalgia and profound disappointment that had accrued since his demise.” He then explains, “The title is a paraphrase of the French noun ‘vivier’ (reservoir) and it additionally appears like ‘claude vit’ (Claude lives).”
Musicwise, the piece exploits a monodic texture. It’s primarily based on one cyclic melody. “Its 4 sections are totally different variations of an orchestral unison,” explains Evangelista. “Due to this fact, there are not any chords or actual counterpoint. The devices are fairly often handled in a means that it creates ambiguities between their timbres. The piece closes on a quote from Lonely Little one, a Vivier work
He additionally explains how paradoxical it was for him to have a bit impressed by disappointment and frustration be carried out by the SMCQ ensemble, a gaggle that’s characteristically gentle and candy.
The 2017–18 SMCQ Homage Collection
This yr the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec’s (SMCQ) 6th version of their Homage Collection will probably be devoted to Evangelista. This biennial live performance collection presents works from a Quebec composer performed by totally different Canadian and worldwide performers all through Canada. Live shows by ensembles similar to Quasar and the Nouvelle ensemble moderne (NEM) are already booked for the 2017–18 season to rejoice this composer’s music. www.smqc.qc.ca
Par Adrian Rodriguez le
Evangelista’s sons didn’t fall removed from the tree, as each are actively concerned in Montreal’s music scene. Gabriel, his elder son, is a type of musical chameleon: his influences are jazz, Gamelan, classical and salsa. “I describe myself on this order: composer, arranger, musical director and performer,” he says in a severe tone. “My background consists of classical music, jazz, Balinese Gamelan, salsa and slightly little bit of flamenco.” He cites the Bali X album as one of many initiatives of which he’s essentially the most proud. “Giri Kedaton [the Gamelan ensemble that had its residence in University of Montreal]and I took Gamelan Gong-Kebyar and blended it with various kinds of trendy standard and concrete music. For instance, there’s a Gamelan-Metallic piece, one other one that’s type of Gamelan-Electro. We even had a Gamelan association of a bit by Radiohead” [one of the most iconic alternative rock bands].
Within the classical vein, Gabriel has composed music for chamber orchestras. Most remarkably he has composed one of many tracks for OktoEcho’s eponymous album — this can be a Montreal-based chamber orchestra with Arabic influences — that was nominated for an Opus.
Latin music additionally has a particular place in his coronary heart. “I began to review salsa on my own once I was about 17. I obtained some books and began studying; I keep in mind one e book referred to as Salsa, The Rhythm of Latin Music … I began getting higher at it and started to play with the native salsa musicians. Since then I’ve began to do musical preparations as nicely and a little bit of conducting.”
Inside that turmoil of musical exercise, he’s discovered the time to create a brand new venture, Afilao, a gaggle whose title means “sharp.” It’s an Afro-cuban jazz septet that he describes as providing “a progressive view of quite a lot of Cuban trendy music traditions. I attempt to mix the angular facet of recent and progressive music with the groovy facet.”
However David, the youthful son of the Evangelista clan, is a “Shredder”, a excessive octane Metallic guitar participant. He explains how he grew to become an electrical guitar virtuoso: “I grew up in a home stuffed with classical music, world music, and quite a lot of jazz. I used to be at all times into ragtime and jazz and that obtained me into the ‘bluesier’ facet of issues. In the beginning I realized classical music: piano and violin in addition to solfège and concord. Nevertheless I used to be nonetheless drawn to blues with out actually understanding it. I used to take my violin and maintain it like a guitar and play blues chord progressions with out actually understanding it was referred to as blues or something. So naturally the transition to guitar was straightforward, and I liked the virtuoso side of it. It was loud and intense, but it surely might be melodic and exquisite, too. I additionally was drawn to the managed loudness of heavy steel, the polished noise side of it. I really like loud distorted guitars. In a means they’re similar to violin: the tone and maintain and how one can form the sound with an EQ [equalizer]. Lots of steel bands use harmonies, like Metallica and Iron Maiden.”
One can simply think about the musical chaos within the Evangelista family whereas Gabriel and David have been rising up. Gabriel, placing up the “fiesta”, grooving together with his piano and taking part in montunos, salsa-style piano patterns which might be typically performed in Cuban music; David shredding epic guitar solos; and José looking for the mandatory reflection to compose!
José feedback: “We needed to be divided into totally different rooms with the totally different sound sources. Nonetheless there have been many occasions we additionally listened to music collectively. I at all times took care that my sons had a classical reference, however we additionally listened to trendy music from modern composers. As a result of each of my sons are musicians, I discovered it necessary to impress in them the classical affect and on the identical time, the trendy and standard tendencies — everyone should comply with his personal path.”
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