Selected Reviews

In Memoriam Earle Brown
The world premiere of In Memoriam Earle Brown by Orlando Garcia, Dean of FIU’s School of Music, opened the program with a kaleidoscopic array of luminous orchestral colors, applied with the softest brush strokes. Partly inspired by the mobiles of Alexander Calder, Garcia’s often quiet orchestral tapestry of string tremolos, tingling mallet percussion and wind and brass fanfares perfectly matched the projected Calder images. Garcia’s array of coloristic effects were skillfully crafted and the instrumental choirs each wore different colors, corresponding to the art. Conductor Eduardo Marturet’s carefully prepared performance vividly reproduced the composer’s enchanting sound palette. One of Garcia’s wonderful inspirations was to assign solos to players in the back rows of the strings as well as to first chair players. A heartfelt tribute to an important 20th-century composer, the score is a wonderfully inspired confection. Lawrence Budmen South Florida Classical Review and the Miami Herald 2/13/11.

Transcending Time
25th MUSIC BIENNALE ZAGREB
Musical works for the stage, Transcending Time and The Plumber
AN ABSTRACT OPERA AND A BLACK BALLET
The piece Transcending Time by the American composer Orlando Garcia is, in its form, a “true” Biennale production that tests its audience

ZAGREB – Two premières of musical works for the stage crowned this Wednesday on the 25th Music Biennale Zagreb, both showing top quality approaches to different expressive elements. At the Gavella Theater it was the first performance of a new piece by the American composer Orlando Jacinto Garcia, Transcending Time, in its form a “true” Biennale production. At the &TD Theater it was the first performance of a ballet by Gordan Tudor, the composer, and Natalija Manojlović, the dramaturgist, the Plumber, produced, luckily, by the &TD Theater (with the MBZ as co-producer).

Garcia and his collaborators have completely succeeded in „transcending time“, as the title suggested, creating an auditorily and visually ritualized unwinding of a temporal ball, which, in turn, never results in monotony, but rather absorbs the listener deeper and deeper into the circulation around a structure. Jacek Kolasinski is the author of the video that places a man in a protective suit and a mask in the center of attention.

This character passes through a lovely landscape and the old historical ruins of Poland, an important motif being water, water that should cleanse the world, and the green grass floating in the air, bringing hope for a new beginning. John Stuart enriched the video excerpts with a motif of verticality, often represented by huge telecommunication antennae, as a symbol of the disruption of the natural order.

Campbell McGrath has created a very ascetic, abstract, and yet, in its concise messages, expressive text, serving as a libretto of the opera, intertwining with the solo part of the mezzo soprano Martina Gojčeta Silić, but also with the roles of the four vocal soloists arranged and allocated as if there were instruments (Monika Cerovčec, Martina Matić Borse, Neven Mrzlečki and Goran Jurić), as well as with the members of the Cantus ensemble, who, led by Mladen Tarbuk, carried out the sound of a live ensemble.

To all this, the composer Garcia has added a key segment, the electronically manipulated motifs – distended through time – from his own pieces. Through a very careful, extremely slow unspooling, he focused on the sound colors that almost imperceptibly cross-fade all the time.
It’s a complete, idiosyncratic concept in which, unlike some projects of the MBZ so far, the idea and the realization find a way to correspond mutually and to form a unified whole.

After this extreme testing of a listener’s concentration and perception of reality, a wholly different experience awaited the audience at the première of The Plumber, a “black ballet”, by Gordan Tudor and Natalija Manojlović, a chamber ballet based upon the motifs from the texts of the black-humorist French writer Boris Vian (…) Vjesnik, Zagreb, Croatia, April 24th, 2009 [Mirta Špoljarić]

el silencio después de la lluvia (performed by members of the Noise Ensemble as part of the SoundOn Festival held June 13 – 16, 2007 at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in la Jolla, CA.

I am going to jump ahead and out of program order here to mention Garciá’s el silencio después de la lluvia, easily the most beautiful piece on the program. (Along with Top’s Four, it was a winner of the 2006 NOISE “international call for scores”). With its brilliantly measured silences (I think Feldman is the model here), and moments of supremely delicate magic (McAllister softly and slowly plucking single strings of the guitar), the piece perfectly achieves something Burtner is at greater pains to suggest in the flashier Snowprints. Garciá’s sonic zeros and ones (non-being and being) open up a natural mystery that lies deeper than electronic snowdrifts. Silence is more awesome than white noise. David Gregson, San Diego. Com, San Diego Arts, June 17, 2007.

Musica para Segovia (performed by Sequitur at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City 1/8/07)

Percussion peeks through a large ensemble to provide much of the Cuban accent in Orlando Jacinto García’s ”Musica Para Segovia” (1994) as well, although the work’s muscle is more cosmopolitan. At first, Mr. García’s music is a study in sound and silence, with aphoristic phrases – sometimes only a single chord – surrounded by rests. But the silences fall away as the phrases grow longer and blossom into thick string, woodwind, piano and percussion textures that, for all their heft, are rarely louder than mezzo-forte. Allan Kozinn, New York Times, January 10, 2007.

como los colores del viento nocturno (performed by violist Laura Wilcox at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center in Miami on February 18, 2006 as part of a concert featuring the music of Morton Subotnick and friends)

Garcia was represented with his como los colores del viento nocturno (like the colors of the evening wind). Though no direct programmatic inspiration exists, there is something nocturnal and melancholy about this music. Scored for live viola and taped violin on CD, the work reflects Garcia’s spare, haunting style. Wilcox brought a plaintive sweetness to her viola phrases and a nuanced degree of shading and expression; her sensitive doubling on wind chimes conveyed the shimmering delicacy and quiet beauty of Garcia’s music. Lawrence A. Johnson, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, February 21 2006.

fragmentos del pasado (reviews of CD of the composers works on New Albion NA 124 released 10/04)

The idea of Morton Feldman in Cuba is difficult to picture much less hear, but that broad juxtaposition of sensibilities seems the best way to approach Cuban-born, Miami-based Orlando Jacinto Garcia (b1954). A former Feldman student, Garcia has learned a few things about temporal stasis, and for someone born in a tropical climate his musical pace is practically glacial. In terms of timbre, on the other hand he is powerfully evocative. Feldman famously sought to equate expressionist painting in sound, and although Garcia shares much the same goal, he comes to the canvas with a different set of colors. Particularly in his writing for guitar, both as a solo instrument in timbres artificiales and with string quartet in fragmentos del pasado, the pure quality of Garcia’s sounds are, by the standards of the New York School, tropically lush. After nearly an hour of working in the various corners of the palette, he utilizes the whole board in his orchestral Vedute sonore da Bellagio. A colleague has compared the orchestral music to Boulez on valium and I can do no better. Working his way around his instrumental forces, Garcia seems content in finding every possible combination at his disposal. With hardly a crescendo in earshot, the music is neither rhythmic nor discordant, but the cumulative result is strangely purifying. Ken Smith, Gramophone, April 2005 issue.

In fragmentos del pasado (fragments of the past), the opening piece on an important release by composer Orlando Jacinto Garcia, a section of col legno sounds repeatedly invades the listener as remembrances often assault consciousness: suddenly and also somewhat statically. I found this evocative piece continually suggesting conversations between different sensory realms, and I also carved out a meaningful space for it as I began to think about its repetitions as an opening into a more general reflection on the role of memory in the process of constructing identity—as if Garcia explored subjectivity as a dialogue between consciousness and a series of photograph-like memories. In fact, as with much of the album, beautiful moments abound in Jragmentos del pasado. But if I had focused this commentary on accounting for the recorded existence of this 20-minute work, I would be writing about a collection of tableaux, and, with that, the opportunity to do justice to a piece that at a more holistic level is much more than that would be lost. In any case, what immediately became clear to me is that Fragmentos del Pasado is a piece as much about listening as it is about thinking and that, in this sense, it worked very well as an aural aperture into the musical world that the rest of the compact disc inhabits.

Indeed, synaesthetic and even cognitive openings seem to pervade Garcia’s music. The piece that follows fragmentos del pasado, #3 From Three Pieces for Double Bass and Tape uses studio technology to collapse the acoustic and electronic realms into what the liner notes by Frank J. Oteri convincingly describe as a “blurred photograph.” And in Timbres Artificiales for solo guitar, the title is a giveaway in determining an intention to shun traditional playing techniques to obtain what “sounds” like a transparent image or like a delicate glass traversed by an impossibly limpid light. Actually, such impossibilities pervade the music on this compact disc so much so that, in a strange way, and as an example of the fact that the best aspect of Garcia’s music is its search for meaning in the listener’s verbal mind, when forced to aesthetically define this music I would say that a surface-level post-minimalism is driven by a very hidden—and at some level denied—romanticism.

But in going through with Garcia’s proposal to experience his music with open ears, eyes, and minds, I realized there was another hide and seek game to be played, for if there is something interesting about John Cage or Morton Feldman’s aesthetics of suppression, silence and disruption (Mr. Garcia studied with Feldman) it is the fact that they very specifically pointed against violence—mainly the aggression implied in compositional systems that replicate authoritarian social practices. But is it really valuable to avoid sensuality, beauty or genuine lyricism (qualities that very quickly, but also very strongly, appear throughout the compact disc fragmentos del pasado)? At different times, and especially with Vedute Sonore Da Bellagio, a piece for orchestra performed (live, it seems) by the respected Orquesta Sinfonica Simon Bolivar, I found myself longing for more of music’s ability to make me forget violence not by suppressing it at the level of pre-composition, but by being entertaining, engaging my body through rhythm, etc. Actually, Garcia gives you enough of it to make you want it—particularly in the above-mentioned orchestral piece, fragmentos del pasado and Timbres Artificiales (his all-acoustic pieces)—but then systematically, and very skillfully, denies it.

Another of the aspects of Garcia’s aesthetics that raised larger issues is the fact that Feldman, Cage, et al, suppressed occult ideas. Garcia’s music, on the contrary, constantly courts traditional music, something much more available than the violence of compositional paradigms. In doing so he may have inverted the role that the liberation of music from traditional continuities (harmonic, melodic, rhythmic, etc.) played in the context of the New York School. That is, from the perspective of someone who is accustomed to using music’s entertaining value as a way to get away from everyday life—and its intrinsic, modern-based violence—the constant presence of something familiarly good that is always negated can be seen as repressive rather than liberating.

In short, Garcia’s release struck me as intrinsically rich and beautifully dangerous, and it took a holistic effort on my part to incorporate it. I must confess, however, that it was hard for me to both sustain the synaesthetic attitude needed for the enjoyment of the compact disc fmgmentos del pasado and concentrate, as once an image was created in my mind by the sounds, I tended to loose track of the experiences suggested by the composer. In a way, I simply discovered that we are not very well trained in seeing with our ears and touching with our minds, but I also noticed that this limitation made repeated listening a completely different and always lively experience. Journal SEAMUS (the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) Miguel Galperin, Volume 18, No. 1 Spring 2005

Flip this CD over to scan the track listing, and the unsuspecting listener might just think, “Oh, how lovely, some chamber music-and a whole 72 minutes of it at that!” But from the first measures of this collection—which feature some inspired col legno playing by Cuarteto Latinamericano before the guitar line joins the group—García’s focus seems most intently fixed on the texture of the sound. He uses both the various timbral possibilities of guitar, by turns taking center stage and blending into the ensemble, and quartet to high effect. The work develops as one long arch rather than broken apart movements and holds that tension through its 20-minute run time. The mood takes a turn towards ambient drone for #3 from Three Pieces for Double Bass and Tape before shifting things back to the capable hands of guitarist Jaime Marquez, who performs Timbres Artificiales. It’s a work that uses the guitar for its sound more than technique, repeatedly returning to spare harmonic tones shared equally with resonant space. Separación, scored for saxophone and pre-recorded tape, takes the listener back into the realm of the drone but with a much brighter character than the chill of the previous bliss-out track. A literal sonic postcard, Vedute sonore da Bellagio, bookends the collection on the far side. Utilizing a larger collection of forces here, García moves a few steps toward the more traditional while maintaining key bits of his distinctive compositional language heard earlier in the recording. MS New Music Box Issue 67 Vol 6 No 7 11/04

sombras iluminadas (review of CD of the composers works on CRI eXchange Series CD 900)

“One tends to expect colorful, glittering orchestral showpieces from Spanish or Latin American composers with a strong rhythmic element and dance influence. The music of Orlando Jacinto Garcia (b 1954) is a useful case in point against musical stereotyping. Like a Sergio Leone western, stillness and a sense of vast space characterize the Cuban-American’s slow moving intensely orchestrated works…Garcia’s masterful sense of pacing and incident compel interest with his highly distilled use of instrumental combinations…Garcia’s slowly mutating textures and harmonies are consistently ear catching, ominous yet consoling at the same time. Those who are fascinated by Morton Feldman and the minimalists will find much fascinating music to explore here.” Lawrence A. Johnson, Gramophone Awards Issue 2003

Celestial Voices (review of CD of the composers works on O.O. Discs. oo42)

“Cuban born composer Orlando Jacinto García wears a Feldman influence proudly on his sleeve. On the recent compilation from O.O. Discs, Celestial Voices, García retains elements of his former teachers gentleness, his attention to nuance, and the ability to suspend time. Not a Feldman clone, García has assimilated rather than merely imitated and more important expanded on the traits of his New York School training arriving at a distinctive style that becomes more confident and convincing with each successive work…The liner notes, the intelligent and capable performances, and the stylish packaging combine with García’s music to produce an album that is refreshingly original and eminently enjoyable.” Luke Howard, American Music, Vol 18 No 3, Fall 2000

“Orlando Jacinto Garcia writes music of Feldmanesque quiet and sensitivity. Like his mentor, Garcia uses extremely low dynamic levels and economical materials to focus the ear on the minute details where the expression in this kind of music lies. In the pieces on this disc, the focus is on the nature of instrumental sound and on the relationships between instruments and between instruments and taped sounds. In Music for Berlin, the most fully realized piece here, Garcia combines elements that were hallmarks of Feldman’s early and late styles in a piece that is expressive and compelling. The flute, for the most part, plays long, uninflected notes that gain their power from their serenity (as in Feldman’s Durations series from the 1950s), while the piano is given repeated harmonic figures to play, reminiscent of the long Feldman works of the 80s. The result is wholly original and quite moving. This music (every piece on this fine disc) demands close, repeated listening. Bolstered by excellent performances and good, clean sound, the music rewards such attention.” Hicken: The Newest Music, American Record Guide 62:4 July-August 1999

“Garcia’s music clearly traces its roots to the oeuvre of Morton Feldman…But Garcia goes beyond his mentor’s fine music to carve out a compelling body of work that exhibits its own personal integrity. Here he shows himself to be a composer of substance; his pieces exhibit a certain tightness and rigor infrequently found in music of this type…The liner notes also indicate that Garcia is a millionaire. Even if he were penniless, though, Garcia would still be rich in talent, inventiveness, and taste. This is an excellent release by a first rate composer, very highly recommended.” David Cleary, New Music Connoisseur, Vol 8. No. 2, 1999 NY

“The five works are all by Orlando Jacinto Garcia and bring together some of the leading contemporary soloists today (Bert Turetzky, Corrado Canonici, Robert Black, Luis Gomez Imbert). Canciones Fragmentadas (Fragmented Songs, 1996) for solo bass is performed brilliantly by Corrado Canonici and as the title suggests, the music is certainly fragmented where the silence is almost as important as the notes. Tone colour and articulation are exploited in a spatial void of almost nothingness and the aural landscape created is eerily ethereal and other-wordly. Robert Black performs No. 2 from 3 Pieces (1990) for Double Bass and Tape where the music is practically static and the bass line emerges from the unending gloom of the electronic sound. The blending of tone is effective and neither is allowed to dominate. Celestial Voices (1993) is the largest work and is for 2 double basses (Turetzky & Imbert) and orchestra, and the textural colours and timbres are painted on a musical canvas of effective imagination. Both soloists play with commitment and energy and cleverly weave together the strands and fragments offered by the composer…” Alex Korda; Bass News UK (the BIBF Journal) 11/99 Issue.

Why References? (review of the premiere performance at New York University by pianist Kathleen Supove)

“Orlando Jacinto Garcia’s Why References? achieved an often lovely parity between the mediums, murmuring clusters from loudspeakers set against quietly ringing solid and broken chords.” Bernard Holland, New York Times, 11/13/02

Three Pieces for Double Bass and Tape
(concert reviews)

After all the noisy squawks and sonic frenzy, Garcia’s music boasted quiet, compelling power. In the first of Three Pieces for Double Bass and Tape, soloist Luis Gomez Imbert produced a spontaneous dialogue with the recordings widely spaced electronic chords. He created sounds of an unearthly delicacy with his feather light bowing, often to haunting effect.” Lawrence A. Johnson, Sun Sentinel, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 4/4/01 (review of a performance of #1 from Three Pieces for Double Bass and Tape performed at a concert of electroacoustic music at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center in Miami, FL)

“Adding to the drama of Concert II, Orlando Jacinto Garcia’s controversial piece #2 from Three Pieces, for contrabass and tape invites the listener to experience time in a radically different way. The unwilling listener who resists this invitation will invariably struggle through the seemingly static landscapes Garcia creates with quiet, miniature, repeating gestures and long notes in the bass part. The refusal of the bass to correspond with the tape comes to a powerful ending, where the temporal worlds created by the tape part and a repeating series of double stops in the bass overlap but never coincide.” Bonnie Mitsch, Array International Computer Music Association, Summer 1999 (review of a performance of #2 of Three Pieces for Double Bass and Tape at the Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival)

sombras iluminadas (premiere at the Alicante Festival in Spain 9/97)

“the most memorable moment of the concert was surely the premiere of sombras iluminadas…it’s very different and personal music stylized to the maximum, each cutting line creating sonorous planes that are almost completely static, the slow movement that it creates appears as an illusion as if caused by the changes in the color of sound.” Jose Luis García del Busto, ABC, Madrid, Spain 9/28/97; (review of the premiere by the Orquesta de la Ciudad de Malaga at the Alicante Festival in Spain)

“an evocative, attractive sonoric discourse full of ideas, reflective and with some repetitive gestures.” Carlos Gomez Amat, El Mundo, Madrid, Spain 9/28/97 (review of the premiere by the Orquesta de la Ciudad de Malaga at the Alicante Festival in Spain)

Images of Wood and Wire (review of recording on CD Music by American Composers, N/S R 1014)

“The most original and ambitious work on disc two is Images of Wood and Wire…The obvious influence here is one of García’s teachers, Morton Feldman. This nearly 20 minute work borrows the audacity of the late great master by dealing exclusively in small, softly produced segments, oblivious to conventional conceptions of time and structure, in search of truth and beauty. This is a brave and wonderful work of art.” Peter Burwasser, Fanfare, May/June 1998

timbres artificiales

“In an exceptionally delicate, often pointillistic style, the time suspended piece, created haunting sonic images.” Tim Smith, Sun Sentinel, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 4/19/94 (review of a performance by guitarist Ruben Riera at the Music of the Americas Festival in Miami)

entre el anochecer y la oscuridad

“a provocative work with echoes of Webern and a bold use of silences.” José Guerrero Martín, La Vanguardia, Madrid, Spain 9/30/92 (review of the premiere by the Orquesta Sinfonica de Valencia at the Alicante Festival in Spain)

La Belleza del Silencio (review of CD of the composers works on O.O. Discs oo6)

“The label’s most impressive new release is La Belleza del Silencio…..On the eve is a stunning piece performed by the Gregg Smith Singers…[In] Improvisations with Metallic Materials…García sets up patterns which ebb and flow in density suggesting at times a futuristic carillon…Joan La Barbara sings the vast, haunting, evocative Sitio Sin Nombre.” The NY Review of Records Oct/Nov 1992

“…remarkable subtleties of expression; On the eve of the 2nd years anniversary of Morton’s Death, is particularly effective both as a tribute to Feldman….& as an example of García’s craft ” Tim Smith Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel 4/12/92

“Intriguing new composer…García’s post-Feldman aesthetic is lovely….” Kyle Gann Village Voice 12/13/91

Threnody for the Americas

“(García’s) static, yet feverishly pulsating elegy, interpreted softly and impressively by Joan La Barbara, to verses by the composer, may have very well been influenced in their essence by Morton Feldman. What relayed a minimalistic character at the onset, soon grew to a fretful threat containing a serious social-political message beyond its musical terse and sincerity” Hans-Theodor Wohlfahrt Allgemeine Zeitung Frankfurter 6/90 (review of a performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic with soprano Joan La Barbara at the North American Music Festival)

“Subdued lush orchestration like Boulez on Valium” Kyle Gann Village Voice 12/88 (review of the premiere by the New World Symphony Orchestra with soprano Joan La Barbara at the New Music America Festival in Miami)

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