On April 29th, 2021, I had the honor of witnessing the world premiere Edwin Guevara Gutiérrez’s Ibero-American Landscapes. This premiere took place in Crowder Hall at the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music. This event was during the day at 11:00am on a Thursday. The quartet included the musicians Diana Schaible on flute, Cecelia Palma on cello, Misael Barraza Diaz on guitar, and Edwin Guevara Gutierrez on guitar. I was able to witness this premiere because of my class, Introduction to Music Literature. I was unsure what to expect going into this performance since I had never witnessed a premiere of anything that I can remember. However, I will say that I was by no means disappointed. It was truly a wonderful and unique experience. One element of the performance worth noting is while looking at the stage, you could see that the quartet is evenly spaced out and everyone is wearing face coverings except the flautist for obvious reasons. This is due to the fact that at this point in 2021, we are still dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the pandemic has nothing to do with the music performed, it is something every musician has to deal with right now. I feel as though having to be 6 feet apart from the musicians you’re performing with and having to wear face coverings will certainly have an effect on the performance itself.
Taking a look into the composition, the piece was very beautifully and methodically created. The composer Edwin Guevara Gutiérrez had a very unique way of composing certain parts of the piece. One way was spelling different names in the piece. These names belong to the performers involved in this premiere and they make up the melodies and harmonies throughout the piece. Each letter is assigned to a note in the chromatic scale. The first name I want to point out found in the music is “Diana”. This is the name of the flautist for the performance. The name was spelled out in music with D sharp, G sharp, C natural, C sharp, followed by C natural. I found this notation on measure 35 in the music. By looking at the notes, the name is the start of a melismatic passage in the flute line. Going back to the recording of the performance, this took place at the timestamp 39:29. I really enjoyed that during this moment, the flute was alone with no other instruments beneath it. I felt it was a great transition into the next section of music. During the performance, Diana played this part beautifully. I could hear the different parts of the chromatic scale in the music. After seeing this in the music, I spent a great deal of time searching for the sequences of the other names within this piece. I did not have any luck doing so. Maybe I just missed them or finding the name “Diana” in the music was just the easy one. Either way, something else worth mentioning is that looking at the notes assigned to each letter, it seems true that there is a note assigned to a specific letter. For example, the name “Diaz” is notated with D sharp, G sharp, C, and D. Referring back to the notes for “Diana”, the notes assigned to the letters D, I, and A are the same for both names.
There are a few moments throughout this piece that remind me of the compositions we have gone over in class. One example takes place on page 23, second system of the Ibero-American Landscapes score. At the start of section, I, only Guitar A is playing. This continues until page 25, second system where all instruments are back and playing together. The music slowly builds until there is an abrupt key change and mood shift right into section J on page 27. In the performance of this piece, this moment takes place at 46:28. Hearing this in the music specifically reminded me of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, specifically the second movement. After the introduction of the movement, we are then shown the main theme. Then there is a short crescendo and the theme is played in tutti. Then there is a sudden and abrupt key change into the second subject. Both pieces are very different genres of music but these two moments I found similar. Taking a deeper look onto the music of Ibero-American Landscapes score, there are a few moments that remind me of another piece we went over in class. I can find lots of similarities between this piece and Handel’s Messiah. For example, on page six measure 43 section B, imitation can be seen between the flute and guitar 1. In Messiah, there is imitative textures that can be found in the “And the Glory of the Lord”. You can also see that on page 10, measure 86 is where homophonic textures can be seen between the guitar 1 and the guitar A lines begin. In Handel’s Messiah, homophonic textures can be seen in the Hallelujah Chorus.
Overall, I really enjoyed being able to watch this premiere. It was such an incredible honor. The composition was outstanding. I never would have thought to incorporate names into a piece of music like Guevara Gutiérrez did. On top of this, it was amazing to witness such incredibly talented musicians perform right at our very own University in Tucson. The style of the music performed was not my personal favorite. Throughout most of the piece, it sounded very atonal to me and left me feeling anxious a lot of the time. That mixed in with very slow and melodic sequences made it feel chaotic at times. However, those are my own personal thoughts and feelings. It is still an outstanding piece and a moment that has made history that I am lucky enough to have witnessed. I would like to thank Dr. Matthew Mugmon for giving our class this great opportunity.