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The evening also featured the world premiere of Nicolas Lell Benavides’s Rinconcito for guitar, violin, viola, and cello. The title comes from the song “Rinconcito En El Cielo” (A Little Piece of Heaven) by the Mexican composer, singer, and accordion virtuoso Ramón Ayala. Benavides did not quote the musical material of the song, instead using the title to evoke his own childhood memories and also to serve as a stimulus to explore his own Mexican roots for the first time in his music. The result was an evocative serenade that created a particularly striking use of the guitar and string trio combination.”
Benavides' funky and the horse you rode in on inspired some rump-shaking and, I believe, the Harlem Shake.
This made for a unique approach to get the listener involved in the embellishment process, situating the soloist in the middle of a cloud of seemingly unrelated pitches.
This was followed by music by the oldest composer, Nick Benavides... For me this was a rather engaging bit of nostalgia, leaving me thinking about how the source material predated the composer’s birth by about two decades.
Benavides had the courage to take on two of the poems that Copland had already set, “Heart, we will forget him!” and “I felt a funeral in my brain.” Fortunately, he had no trouble finding his own voice to express his own interpretation of these texts... the performance emerged as a highly individual approach to poems that tapped into the soul of a highly individual woman.
For this concert they [Phonochrome] have hooked up with the Guerrilla Composers Guild… I love that name… they're new music impresarios in San Francisco.
...The result was an engaging blend of lush sonorities often exploring subtle harmonic ambiguities... this particular brass venture is a sign of promising things to come.
...It, along with Nick Benavides' wonderfully structured and harmonically imaginative setting of e.e. cummings i thank you God for most this amazing day, were the most arresting pieces of the evening... The judge’s tastes were well aligned with mine.
Next came the sadly reflective moods of GCG founder Nick Benavides’ “…none of us were overly concerned” “elegy for past and present victims of chemical warfare,” for flute cello and piano. Not a note was wasted in its seven-minute length...
Nick Benavides’ “Magnetismus” concluded the program with a rich use of the full ensemble (without the harp). This is music that sought out its own approach to the use of “repetitive structures” (that phrase that Philip Glass prefers to “minimalism”). There is some sense of ostinato, but there is also a broader impression of a general flow of energy. Benavides seems to have found an intriguing middle ground between mechanistic repetitiveness and the more expansive rhetoric of McIntire’s “naturalism.” The result amounts to an abstraction depicting something far more concrete, even if we cannot quite pin down what that “something” is.