Co-commissioned by Montalvo Arts Center and the Center for the Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University, XLIII: A Contemporary Requiem was a site-specific performance work created by Mexico City-based composer and sound artist Andres Solis with choreographer and 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 mixed traditional elements of organ and choir with electronics and choreographed movements.
Conceived as a contemporary memorial honoring victims of violence, XLIII referred 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 fluctuated between sonic dissonance and harmony. Solis weaved together heavy rhythmic gestures, a deconstructed Bach chorale, and a repetitive melodic motif, which built to a static harmonic wall where drone-like organ sounds merged with choral voices.
Gómez and her dancer collaborators used 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 considered how our experiences of birth and death unite us in a seemingly endless cycle of life giving birth to life. With this perspective, she hoped to honor the memories of victims of violence and ameliorate the trauma and tragedy of their passing.
The thematic focus of XLIII responded to Santa Clara University’s long-standing commitment to social justice and civic responsibility. The performance was supported by the newly established Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, and its 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 was part of a broader effort to facilitate platforms and collaborative partnerships that deepen local community engagement by Artist Fellows at its Lucas Artists Program.
XLIII: A Contemporary Requiem was generously supported by Conaculta-FONCA in Mexico.
Meet the Artists
Sandra Milena Gómez and Andres Solis‘s interdisciplinary collaborative partnership focuses on the development of new experimental works that merge music, sound and body movement, and respond to the specific conditions of unique spaces and sites.
SANDRA MILENA GÓMEZ
Sandra Milena Gómez was invited to Mexico by the French/Mexican theater company Proyecto 3. In her projects, she aims to achieve a live presence on stage through dynamic, strong, and organic movements to awaken the senses of the audience. In 2014, she was invited to premiere the piece Motus Kinesis as part of the BAN7 festival at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Her work has been presented in different venues and festivals in Colombia, Mexico, India and the United States. She has collaborated with companies, choreographers, visual artists and international musicians such as Maureen Fleming, Alexis Eupierre, Frauke Requardt, Jean-Frédéric Chevallier, Matthieu Mével, Joseph Danan, Antonio Quiles, Alejandra Ramirez and Andrés Solis, among others.
Andres Solis is a composer and sound artists based in Mexico City. His work focuses on exploring free musical forms that complicate the rigid constraints imposed by traditional music structures. His creative strategies include computer assisted composition, improvisation, and interdisciplinary artistic collaboration. Solis’ compositions have been presented in more than ten different countries, including Spain, the United States, Israel, Chili, India and others. Solis was co-director of the experimental music festivals AURAL and RADAR in México City from 2006-2013. He also collaborates on various cinematic and performance related projects. In 2012 he was awarded memberships to Mexico’s National Fund for Art and Culture (FONCA) prestigious National System of Art Creators.
Dancer collaborators for XLIII include Andrea Cabrera Lopez and Marianna Denhi Estrada Romero; and Lauren Baines, a Santa Clara University alumna who is Assistant Director of the university art museum, the de Saisset, and an adjunct faculty member of the university’s dance program.
Dr. James Welch has been a member of the Santa Clara University faculty since 1993. He also serves as organist of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Palo Alto. He has concertized internationally at such prestigious venues as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.
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.
The Santa Clara University Chamber Singers are the University’s premiere choral ensemble. In addition to performing challenging repertoire from across the historical style periods, the Chamber Singers also regularly perform and commission new works.
Partners and Sponsors
XLIII: A Contemporary Requiem was made possible through the generous support of the following program partners, exhibition sponsors, and Friends of the Lucas Artists Program:
In the News
- Montalvo Arts Center Hosts Requiem in Mission
By Sophie Mattson, The Santa Clara
- Santa Clara University to Premiere XLIII Requiem Honoring Victims of Violence
By ISN Staff, Ignatian Solidarity Network