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Aura Contemporary Ensemble: Vecino del Sur (Southern Neighbor)

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Aura Contemporary Ensemble: Vecino del Sur (Southern Neighbor)On Monday, November 16, 2015, the University of Houston, Moore School of Music, presented the Aura Contemporary Ensemble at the Moores Opera House from 7:30 pm. The concert, dubbed Vecino del Sur (Southern Neighbor), featured music from the guest composer Javier Alvarez. They included; Metal de Corazones (2012), Horas marcades (2014), Chaconna (1991), Le Repas du Serpent (2004), Retour a la Raison (2004), n mambo (2001), Triple enclave (2004), Overture (2001) and Mambo a la Bracque (1990). The pianist of the concert, Tali Morgulis, was outstanding, and her performance, to me, was the highlight of the evening.
Javier Alvarez is a well-known music composer. He is particularly famous for his style, which combines different music styles and traditions using new technologies and uncommon instruments. Born and raised in Mexico City, Alvarez learned how to compose music with Mario Lavista. He studied music at the Royal College of Music in London (peermusicclassical). His compositions have been inspired by cultures from different parts of the world. For instance, the kayagum, a traditional Korean string instrument, inspired Mannam (1992). This composition combines Korean music style with techniques from the traditional Mexican harp. He also borrows from the dance genres of Latin America like the mambo; for example, in n mambo (2001). He has composed for solo instruments, ensembles, orchestra, voice, choir, opera and electroacoustic.

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The fourth performance of the night were both piano solos; n mambo (2001) and Triple enclave (2004). Tali Morgulis was both vibrant and enthusiastic while playing both pieces. She brought her vast musical experience to this concert. She has studied music from the age of four years and has lived in both Ukraine and Israel (UH: MooresSchoolofMusic). Her performance was powerful as well as emotional. N mambo was written for Thalia Myers, a British pianist. The inspiration for the piece was the mambo music, a dance genre from Latin America. The music began softly and quite slow, and as it progressed, Morgulis began increasing the tempo while the music increased in loudness. She then repeated a series of notes to create a repetitive dance like melody and rhythm. The piece created a dancing mood and in more than one occasion, my legs moved to the rhythm of the song. She played it so skillfully that I felt part of the song. The only moment that I found challenging was when the play increased in tempo, and the notes were played in quick succession making it difficult to follow. This was; however, not surprising because the mambo dance is normally characterized by extreme and complicated dance movements.
The next piece played by Tali Morgulis was the Triple enclave, which was written in 2004 for Elena Riu, a Venezuelan pianist. Like n mambo, the Triple enclave was inspired by the elements of the Cuban music rhythm the clave. The clave is commonly done in 4/4 time where the rhythm is split into five note – three in the first measure and two in the second measure (rhythmweb). From the start, Morgulis played this piece softly but in a pretty fast tempo. In the middle of the piece, I felt like there were many rhythms playing simultaneously, a common feature of salsa music. The melody was much easier to follow compared with the melody for n mambo.
The concert was a success, and I drew a lot of lessons from it. I learned that we can use dance patterns from different cultures to compose music for the piano. I also got to learn more about the mambo dance and the clave rhythm. Tali Morgulis was an exceptional pianist and an inspiration to me.

Works Cited
BIBLIOGRAPHY peermusicclassical. Javier Alvarez (b. 1956, Mexico). 2015. 18 November 2015 <http://www.peermusicclassical.com/composer/composerdetail.cfm?detail=alvarez>.
rhythmweb. The Clave Page. 2015. 18 November 2015 <http://rhythmweb.com/clave/>.
UH:MooresSchoolofMusic. Faculty: Tali Morgulis. 2015. 18 November 2015 <http://www.uh.edu/class/music/faculty-staff/morgulis_t/>.

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