Located in the southwest side of Europe, the Iberian Peninsula, also known as Iberia, is mostly divided into Spain’s and Portugal’s territories. It also includes areas of Andorra, France, and the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. Due to the regime changes by different rulers from different nations, the Peninsula has undergone rich cultural interchanges for years. Therefore, its musical style was influenced by cultures from areas of the Mediterranean Sea and across Europe.
Iberian Rhapsody is a piece written for percussion ensemble, string orchestra and piano. My inspiration came from the traditional music and dances popularised in the Iberian Peninsula throughout centuries. To create a “carnival” soundscape, I attempted to incorporate my musical style and contemporary compositional techniques with the traditional rhythms and sonorities of Iberian music and dances.
To offer a whole new experience for the audience, two main components of orchestration — the percussion ensemble and the string orchestra, sometimes take their soli, sometimes play harmoniously, as if they are voicing against each other. The percussion ensemble mostly takes the leading role of the “carnival” by having solo lines and setting up the pulses and tempi. One of the features of the piece is that I treated all five principals of the string orchestra as “carnival” soloists, as well as the leaders of their respective sections. These five players enjoy their colourful and virtuosic soli, while interacting cordially in the form of a chamber ensemble (quintet) at the same time.
Moreover, I explored the possibilities of merging traditional and contemporary musical soundscapes. For example, I adopted some extended performance techniques such as “play behind the bridge” and some non-instrumental sound effects like hand clapping and feet stomping.
Hola, es la hora del Carnaval, deso que lo disfruten!