Two University of New Mexico music professors, Kevin Vigneau and Kimberly Fredenburgh, performed at the 47th annual Double Reed Conference in Granada, Spain last week. Their program was titled “Nueva Musica de Nuevo Mexico” and was comprised of three unique works including one that premiered at the conference. This annual conference welcomed over 1,300 attendees from all over the world and offered presentations, workshops and concerts.
This trip was made possible by the John Donald Robb Musical Trust, the UNM College of Fine Arts and the UNM Department of Music.
The world premiere of “Raices y Cielos/Roots and Skies” was created specifically for their instruments with an electronic backtrack and explores a range of timbres and textures. Vigneau and Fredenburgh commissioned the piece for UNM alumni and recent composition graduate, Steven Diaz.
According to Vigneau, Diaz is a very visual person and that quality is reflected in their non-traditional score of the piece. The musical score itself has a large tree on it with branches and roots that creep to the bottom of the page.
It is up to Fredenburgh and Vigneau to decide how to play the piece, which differs a little bit each time they perform it. The beginning of the piece utilizes different sounds including one that Fredenburgh makes on the back of her viola with her bow. The result is a hollow, crunching sound. Throughout the piece, motifs of folk tunes begin to emerge until the two finally finish in unison.
The folk songs included in the electronic recordings are from UNM Libraries’ Center for Southwest Research and were recorded by former dean of the College of Fine Arts, John Donald Robb. The Robb Archives include field recordings of Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo music. New Mexican folk tunes were used in Diaz’s piece in order to show the connection between New Mexico and Spain.
“We always try to have a theme that ties why we’re going somewhere,” Fredenburgh said. “It makes sense to not just go and play Brahms again.”
In previous experiences, Vigneau and Fredenburgh recounted times where they have worked with the composer only once or twice before the performance of a piece. The relationship the three had with Diaz, however, was quite different they said.
“We got to work very closely with him. We must’ve had seven or eight rehearsals with him over the summer,” Vigneau said. “That kind of collaboration is really fun. In this situation you feel like you are creating something together.”
The two described how they were lucky not to feel too nervous for the performance of their pieces.
“It was really good to go there and not be worried technically,” Fredenburgh said.
Vigneau shared a similar sentiment about his preparedness.
“In all three pieces there is a certain amount of indeterminacy so it’s not like we’re trying to absolutely coordinate things perfectly in ensemble,” he said.
The two hope to collaborate with Diaz again in the future in order to explore other musical possibilities.
Justine Lopez is a culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @justine_lopez95.