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Alon Nechustan and Brooklyn Music School present the World Premiere of Mestizo
September 24, 2021
Alon Nechustan and Brooklyn Music School present the world premiere of Mestizo on Friday, September 24, 2021 at 7pm at the Brooklyn Music School Theater, 126 St. Felix Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NY. The event is FREE and spots can be reserved online at brooklynmusicschool.org/calendar/2021/9/24/mestizo-original-music-for-strings-and-percussion.
Mestizo is a new, groundbreaking work by pianist and composer Alon Nechushtan that explores the hidden connections between Native American melodies, our region as tribal land of the Lenni-Lenape, and the broad jubilation of rhythm, pulse and dance as global syntax. Mestizo is an expression of connectedness to land, people, traditions and language, premiering on National Native-American Day and scored for the award-winning Tesla String Quartet with the Grammy-winning percussionist Samuel Torres.
“I wanted to tell a multilayered story through a series of fourteen vignettes,” said Alon Nechustan. “Each crossing, exploring and honoring in a different rhetoric and musical angle the migration, beauty, uniqueness and relevance that Native American music — and a particularly regional one, right from our Brooklyn, home of the Lenni-Lenape, Mantaukett, Mohegan, Algonquin, among others — have in the ‘now’ moment.”
“Mestizo” means a person of mixed indigenous heritage, the term did not have a fixed meaning in the colonial period. It was a formal label for individuals in official documentation, such as censuses, parish registers, Inquisition trials, and other matters. Priests and royal officials might label individuals as mestizos, but the term was also used for self-identification for racial mixing that only came into usage in the twentieth century; it was not a colonial-era term. In the modern era, Mestizo is used to denote the positive unity of race mixtures in modern Latin America. In the modern era, particularly in Latin America, Mestizo has become more of a cultural term, with the term Indian being reserved exclusively for people who have maintained a separate indigenous ethnic identity, language, tribal affiliation, etc.
“I chose this title, Mestizo, for the composition inspired by various Native American dances, songs and melodies as an allegory to the diversity and hybrid mix of compositional elements,” said Nechustan. “The traditional monodic character and contour of the melodic content, with the somehow untraditional pairing of sonorous harmonic interpolative and suggestive string instrument orchestration, while hovering above them all, the relentless percussive droning, with its earthy percussive pulse. For my objective reasons only, the title meant to honor the work as a personal creative endeavor, while implying the core nature of the inspirational and often surprising relevance it may have to our contemporary times.”
“I must clarify that Mestizo in its essence is a ‘pure work of fiction’ and not a note to note documentation of assembled melodies,” continued Nechustan. “On the contrary, I admit to have taken a tremendous amount of liberty in the development of sometimes a single melodic nucleus, devising several of my own creations in regarding to voice leading, harmonic language or form, often straying from the puritan approach to arranging-‘documenting’ thus turning the drafting canvas upside down and forming my own music inspired by the aforementioned traditions – not the other way around.”
Nechushtan is quick to point out that Mestizo is a work of fiction, but itʼs one that resonates with the past and is built from extensive background research and sourcing. The performing ensemble group— which is led by Tesla String Quartet is joined in many exotic percussions by grammy winning, Columbian born Samuel Torres, who has an un-parallel ability to tell a story though his percussion gestures, grooves and beats and the unique hybrid between these contrasting musical families- the strings and the percussion section —is the heart of the driving force of the composition:
“I wanted these two core elements, percussion and strings, stand like fire, wind, earth and water elements: each essential for this composition and interact with each other, as our natural preconception is that string quartet is a classical instrument and percussion as a latin, or regional instrument. I wanted to refute this – to have them both equally lead the story and be the protagonists,” Nechushtan said.
This project was supported by City Artist Corps Grant.
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Alon Nechushtan’s music adventures has brought him to various far corners of the globe such as the Yokohama ‘Rejoicing Sounds’ Festival in Japan with his contemporary orchestral compositions, The Manila Cultural Center of the Arts, with his Clarinet Concerto for the Philippines Philharmonic Orchestra, The Sao-Paolo Brazil Jewish Music Festival with his groove based Quintet Talat, Toronto and Montreal with his words beyond Jazz Trio and Tel Aviv New Music Biennale with his Compositions for Large Ensemble. Alon has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Jazz @ Lincoln Center, Central Park Summer Stage, The Blue Note Jazz Club and the Kennedy Center with his projects as a band leader of various groups or as an in-demand sideman. in October 2015 the Kennedy Center has commissioned from Alon Nechushtan a new piece for Billy Strayhorn Centennial Celebration, following by a Far East tour in China and Philippines, along with Jazz Festivals in Belo Horizonte-Brazil, Israel. In 2017 the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C has commissioned from Alon Nechushtan a new program of Thelonious Monk’s less-known compositions. All About Jazz magazine called him “A fantastic pianist-composer with abundant chemistry and boundless eclecticism,” while DownBeat Magazine recognized him as “a talent to watch, with a surfeit of ideas, an unbridled spirit and bold, two-fisted sense of Architecture.” www.musicalon.com
Praised for their “superb capacity to find the inner heart of everything they play, regardless of era, style, or technical demand” (The International Review of Music), the Tesla Quartet brings refinement and prowess to both new and established repertoire. Dubbed “technically superb” by The Strad, the Tesla Quartet has won top prizes in numerous international competitions, most recently taking Second Prize as well as the Haydn Prize and Canadian Commission Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition. In 2018, the Tesla Quartet released its debut album of Haydn, Ravel, and Stravinsky quartets on the Orchid Classics label to critical acclaim. BBC Music Magazine awarded the disc a double 5-star rating and featured it as the “Chamber Choice” for the month of December. Gramophone praised the quartet for its “tautness of focus and refinement of detail.” Their second disc on the Orchid Classics label, a collaboration with clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein featuring quintets by Mozart, Finzi, John Corigliano and Carolina Heredia, was released in October 2019.
Celebrated Latin Grammy Award winning percussionist, composer, and arranger Samuel Torres was born in Bogota, Colombia. He was artistically nurtured in this bustling and culturally sophisticated metropolis where jazz and classical music share the stage with salsa and an infinite variety of Colombian folkloric idioms. Torres’s earliest exposure to music came at home, thanks to an extended family of musicians and access to a wealth of Colombian music genres, from the infectious rhythms of the cumbia and vallenato to styles which reflect a range of African, indigenous and European influences, including the porro, bambuco and pasillo. Having participated in a number of Grammy, Latin Grammy and Emmy award-winning and nominated productions, Torres continues cultivating a successful musical career that will no doubt have many milestones to come.
The Brooklyn Music School (BMS) is a community school for the performing arts, founded in 1909 as the Brooklyn Music School Settlement. As a part of the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, BMS is a long-standing member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts. Today, BMS is committed to serving the community by providing high quality music and dance instruction without regard to income, age, previous experience or professional aspirations. Learn more at brooklynmusicschool.org.