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Enrico Chapela: electric cello concerto in Birmingham

(March 2013)

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra plays host to the European premiere of Enrico Chapela's MAGNETAR, featuring Johannes Moser on electric cello.

Johannes Moser is soloist in the European premiere of Mexican composer Enrico Chapela's electric cello concerto MAGNETAR at Symphony Hall in Birmingham on 28 March. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Diego Matheuz, one of the most exciting young conductors to emerge from the 'El Sistema' classical music training scheme in Venezuela. Enrico Chapela will be attending the performance and participating in a pre-concert talk at 6.15 pm in conversation with Simon Webb.

MAGNETAR was written for the virtuosic skills of Johannes Moser and premiered by him in Los Angeles in 2011 with the LA Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel. The 25-minute concerto has since been performed by Moser in Brazil with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop. Plans are underway for further performances at festivals this summer and on an Iberian tour with the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música this autumn. The concerto was jointly commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Orquestra Sinfónica do Estado de São Paulo.

> Watch a video introduction to MAGNETAR

The title MAGNETAR relates to neutron stars which are the universe's most powerful magnets. This focus falls in line with other recent science-related compositions by Chapela, including Nanobots (2010) based on microscopic machines, and Private Alleles (2010) which takes inspiration from the Mexican Genome Diversity Project. As the electric cello produces sound via electromagnetism, Chapela decided to base his concerto on data from magnetars, translated into pitch sets. The electric cello part combines sounds from an effects patcher, including delay, granulation, and spectral freeze, to create its otherworldly soundscape.

While the opening movement features a cadenza that represents for the composer a magnetar's "quiet and peaceful times" and the second movement "falls into a cool jam", the third movement, entitled Brutal "bursts from nowhere into a fully distorted e-cello that leads into a violent riff, that gradually builds up to the giant final flare".

Enrico Chapela, born in Mexico City in 1974, studied guitar performance and composition at the CIEM academy in Mexico City, and electro-acoustic music and musicology at the University of Paris Saint-Denis. He has been commissioned to compose music for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Dresdner Sinfoniker, Carnegie Hall, Seattle Symphony, Britten Sinfonia, Wigmore Hall, and the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. His musical style seeks to fuse different geographic traditions and musical soundworlds, so that contemporary techniques can happily coexist with minimalist, jazz or rock idioms. Orchestal works include ínguesu, a musical recreation of a historic football match betweeen Mexico and Brazil, which has been performed widely including in Mexico, USA, Brazil, Germany, Poland and South Korea.

> CBSO website
> View MAGNETAR on our Online Scores website
> Visit Chapela's website

> Further information on Work: MAGNETAR

Photo: Johannes Moser, soloist in Chapela's MAGNETAR (Uwe Arens)

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