Our regular listen to and look at living, breathing composers and performers that you may not know yet, but I know you should… And can, right here and now, since they’re nice enough to offer so much good listening online:

“New” Mexico via Myspace

NEW Mexico If your idea of contemporary Mexican art music is still Chavez and Revueltas, you’re so far out of date that it’s not even funny! I can’t catch you up on composers from the 50’s through the 90’s; Google will have to help you out there. Some names to explore might be Manuel Enríquez, Mario Lavista, Federico Ibarra-Groth, Marcela Rodríguez, Hilda Paredes, Hebert Vázquez, Germán Romero, Gabriela Ortíz Torres, Juan Felipe Waller, Julio Estrada, Mauricio Beltránand. (Feeling out of the loop already? Then get busy…)

Those are all fine and respected composers, surely, but where I want to take you is to an even newer fringe of younger Mexican composers and performers, experimental and electronic musicians and improvisers, who happened to have set up a loose confederation on Myspace.com. We’re talking the NEW new, musicians whose influence lists always include Ferneyhough, Lachenmann and Murail right along with my generation’s heros like Xenakis, Ligeti and Feldman; where Zorn and Merzbow are placed as equals with any of those previous names; and where electronic and digital means are are taken for granted as stock-in-trade, right along with all the traditional instruments.

Many will have links on their Myspace page to more “official” websites; but the Myspace pages will give you an easy central location with plenty to listen to for starters, lots of information (Spanish helps but isn’t absolutely essential), and a good sense of the interconnection involved. I don’t need to tell you much more; this is Myspace after all, so you don’t need to just listen but can actually meet and talk with each and any of them! So what are you waiting for?.. say hello to our southern neighbors.

Iván Naranjo: Composer, his 2002 string quartet Uno, played by the Arditti, was just released on a new Mode CD.

Wilfrido Terrazas: Flautist and composer, seems to be a large part of the “glue” bringing these groups of musicians together.

Isaac de la Concha: Composer, improviser, teacher, with no less than three (!!) Myspace pages, one devoted to each aspect.

Alexander Bruck Santos: Violist with a fondness for everything from Feldman to free improv.

Adnán Márquez-Borbon: Saxophonist and improviser.

With a number of other musicians (who you’ll find listed in their personnel of the pages), this posse does duty in one or more of the following experimental ensembles:

Generación Espontánea

Ensamble Áspero


Colectivo Kaoss

Circling the periphery, but still connected and quite worth checking out, are these composers:

Arístides Llaneza

Juan José Bárcenas

Pablo Rubio Vargas

11 Responses to “Steve’s click picks #16”
  1. Steve Layton says:

    Colegas, hola and bienvenidos! Issac, Wili, Alex, Adnan, Ivan, it’s great to see you show up to say hello. This is what the web is all about! Drop by here anytime with news or opinion (or go make a site that we have to go to… 😉 )

  2. Hi Steve,

    thanks for the review and blog.

    Say hello to our northern neighbors.

    Greetings from Mexico City, Isaac.

  3. David Callahan says:

    Abandon the ship
    That saved you from drowning
    And become a fish.


  4. Ivan Sparrow says:

    It’s interesting to see this kind of communication between Mexico and U.S.A. musicians. When some kind of interaction happens it’s usually with european musical culture (not surprisingly, since what we have is to a large degree a continuation and adaptation of their musical inheritance).

    It’s been almost a year since I’ve been living in Chihuahua city, in the north of Mexico and near the southern U.S. border. In terms of musical activity, and almost all other artistic manifestations, this is a cultural desert. Nonetheless, I feel we have a small spark that can get things burning (in a good way). It seems Chihuahua can be a good meeting place for the interaction of both musical cultures. For the moment, if some of you pass near or through our city, please give us notice, you’ll be very welcomed.

    Saludos Wili!

  5. Roberto Barnard Baca says:

    Oh yeah…one more thing. Although I’m from Morelia and love my hometown.. XALAPA–where I lived and pursued my MFA–has overall, the best and most varied musical activity outside of the capital. Particularly when one considers that the academic climate and level is generally superior. Indeed, little Xalapa is a veritable bastion of decent players. And it boasts the only really serious post-graduate program in the country.

    But it’s nice to know that Baca Lobera, Terrazas and the rest are making different kinds of things happen all over the place! That’s what’s great today! Break ’em down (the walls, that is)!

    Saludos desde Nueva York

  6. Roberto Barnard Baca says:

    Indeed, I know some of these young ‘uns. There is a certainly a variety of expression in the country, and indeed, exchange between W. Europe, Mexico and USA/Canada and Asia will continue. I will only add my grain of salt in that some of the Conaculta/apparatchik elements are over-rated: grants and prizes are tossed around in a “chilango buddy system”. It’s amusing to note that some Mexican composers can simultaneously be on the faculty at Eastman, AND be picking up a fat Cultural Ministry cheque in Mexico as part of the National System of Creators. Viva Mexico… I wish I had such luck but I guess you have to know how to schmooze and sell yourself.

  7. Hello Steve and everyone,
    seing this review was a great (and happy) surprise indeed. What we’re doing down here is, I think, really fun. I see a bunch of people enjoying music completely without any regard for “genre” or barriers of that kind. As Alex mentioned in his post, rock music and other musical “areas” are experiencing parallel phenomena, so we’re kinda just tagging along with the flow…except, our “thing” is a lot noisier than theirs!
    I guess this is what you get with the kind of musical heroes we’ve got…and also, a bit of a strange musical upbringing. Thanks for checking us out.
    Best regards from Mexico,
    Wilfrido Terrazas

  8. Hi,
    glad to see your review. I just wanted to add a few things: the “loose confederation on myspace” is in fact the virtual reflection of a new music community whose relations reach also into rock music or mexican folk. just to mention those two. This community, based mostly in Mexico city but with strong ties to other towns like Querétaro and Morelia, is building something new not only musically, but also inasmuch it is largely independent from the institutional places and occasions for new music. The part visible on myspace is just the tip of an iceberg, with many projects existing only for one or two shows, and many people not belonging to the myspace community.
    One of the venues where many of these groups and people have been playing is Café Jazzorca -devoted to improvised music in all its aspects- but there are plenty of other places, like the Pasaguero or the Hayastán.
    Finally I just want to mention one of my most recent groups, the string trio Trementina, featuring excellent improviser-violinist Carlos Alegre (a member of Arto and Generación Espontánea) and the highly energetic cellist Maria Lipkau.


    With best regards from Mexico,

    Alexander Bruck

  9. Steve Layton says:

    Hi Adnan. Thanks for stopping by and filling us in, and feel free to keep us up to date & contribute, too. This may be an American website hosted in New York, but it’s really open to anyone anywhere with a passion for what’s being done today.

    And Aaron writes: Mexico is a real hotbed for new music at the moment, it seems, though it’s worth pointing out that many have had to make the move to Europe for all the same reasons that it’s difficult to write interesting, adventuresome, innovative music in the USA.

    Hey, aside from maybe the personal level it’s not difficult at all to write it! It’s only getting anyone to support, enable or appreciate it afterwards that’s tough… 😉

  10. I would like to thank you Steve for taking the time to review the music created by my fellow musicians. It is a great honor for us as a younger generation of up and coming musicians to be cited in such a fine site/blog as this. But the purpose of this brief message is to describe a bit about what we are and what we do. Sometime ago we decided to create a musical group (motivated by Wilfrido Terrazas) in which there we could explore more alternative and experimental musical practices that can be seen in certain
    academic circles as unacceptable. In such light we formed Generacion Espontanea (Spontaneous Generation). Based originally in Mexico City, the project has now expanded across other cities such as Queretaro, Morelia, Ensenada, and even San Diego (California). Naturally, myspace was ideal for the proliferation of these ideas. It is a free hosting site and provides the possibility to connect and share your music with other people in Mexico as well as other parts of the world. Generacion Espontanea is an ongoing project that plans to unify like-minded musicians (performers, groups, improvisers, composers, and programmers) into an amorphous collective that challenges the traditional notions of music.

    Adnan Marquez-Borbon

  11. Eric Lin says:

    Thanks for this Steve…