Co-commissioned by Montalvo Arts Center and the Center for the Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University, XLIII is a new site-specific performance work created by Mexico City-based composer/sound artist Andres Solis and choreographer/dancer Sandra Milena Gómez in association with the Santa Clara University Chamber Singers, and conductor Scot Hanna-Weir.
The requiem is traditionally an act or token of remembrance for the dead, and has inspired compositions by such musical luminaries as Mozart, Verdi, Brahms, and Dvořák. This immersive contemporary reworking of the genre by Solis and Gómez mixes traditional elements of organ and choir with electronics and choreographed movements.
Conceived as a contemporary memorial honoring victims of violence, XLIII refers to forty-three male students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero in Mexico who were kidnapped in 2014 after traveling to the city of Iguala to stage a protest against perceived government corruption. The students are believed to have been murdered by members of a drug cartel. The number 43 has subsequently become a symbol of protest against violence and corruption in Mexico and throughout the world.
The eleven movements of XLIII fluctuate between sonic dissonance and harmony. Solis weaves together heavy rhythmic gestures, a deconstructed Bach chorale, and a repetitive melodic motif, which builds to a static harmonic wall where drone-like organ sounds merge with choral voices.
Gómez and her dancer collaborators use movement to explore several different themes including birth, repetition, dissolution, and renewal. Through choreographed gestures and the use of materials such as earth, stones, candles, mirrors, and crystals, she considers how our experiences of birth and death unite us in a seemingly endless cycle of life giving birth to life. With this perspective, she hopes to honor the memories of victims of violence and ameliorate the trauma and tragedy of their passing.
The thematic focus of XLIII responds to Santa Clara University’s long-standing commitment to social justice and civic responsibility. The performance is supported by the newly established Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, and its inaugural Salon theme, (in)humanity, which examines how the humanities and arts may work as agents of change in a world besieged by violence and misunderstanding.
For Montalvo Arts Center, XLIII is part of a broader effort to facilitate platforms and collaborative partnerships that deepen local community engagement by Artist Fellows at its Lucas Artists Residency Program.
XLIII is generously supported by Conaculta-FONCA in Mexico.
About the Center for the Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University
The mission of the Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences is to help build an academic foundation rich in creative explorations and experiential learning, founded in ethical integrity and social responsibility. One element of the Center is an annual Salon, which engages a particular theme or issue through a variety of artistic activities. Each artistic event includes panel discussions and gatherings to share ideas over wine and appetizers.
About the Artists
About Santa Clara University Chamber Singers and conductor Scot Hanna-Weir
Dr. Scot Hanna-Weir is Director of Choral Activities at Santa Clara University, where he oversees the choral program, directs the SCU Chamber Singers and Concert Choir, and teaches other courses within the music department. He is also the Artistic Director of the Santa Clara Chorale where he leads the 90-voice auditioned ensemble in a five-concert season. As a conductor, singer, pianist, and teacher, Hanna-Weir is known for his insatiable desire for artistic excellence and his deep connection to the personal joy of music making. Comfortable in a variety of genres and styles, he is a frequent collaborator as conductor, clinician, singer, and pianist with soloists, choirs, composers, and ensembles from a variety of backgrounds and traditions. As a 2014 conducting fellow at the prestigious Oregon Bach Festival, he assisted in the world premiere of Artistic Director Matthew Halls’s own reconstruction of Bach’s lost St. Mark Passion and also conducted members of the modern and period instrument orchestras, the OBF Vocal Fellows, the Berwick Chorus, and the University of Oregon Chamber Choir. Hanna-Weir has prepared choirs for the National Symphony Orchestra under Helmuth Rilling, the National Orchestral Institute under Asher Fisch, the Army Field Band and Soldier’s Chorus, and the Maryland Opera Studio. Hanna-Weir also directed the vocal music program at Tecumseh High School in Michigan, where he led his choirs to consistent success at district and state choral festivals. He received his DMA from the University of Maryland, MM from the University of Wisconsin, and BME from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
The Department of Music at SCU provides an inspiring and creative environment that engages students in the study, creation, and appreciation of music as an essential element of a Jesuit liberal arts education. The department offers multiple areas of study including performance, musicianship, theory, composition, historical and cultural studies, and technology. The Chamber Singers is a mixed ensemble of highly select, experienced singers and is the University’s premiere choral ensemble. In addition to performing challenging chamber repertoire from across the historical style periods, the Chamber Singers also regularly perform and commission new works, such as Scott Gendel’s #dreamsongs, a choral song cycle based on the poetry of Nick Lantz, during the 2014-2015 academic year. They have also brought numerous pieces by faculty composer Bruno Ruviaro and conductor Scot Hanna-Weir to performance including Il Bianco e Dolce Cigno… e Dolce Cigno, a piece involving live looping electronics; a reimagining of Sandström’s Es ist ein ros’ entsprungen incorporating live electronic performance on Wiimotes; and a music video of Ruviaro and Hanna-Weir’s Sympathy which uses audience participation on prerecorded tracks played by smartphones.