Piraí Vaca | Aires Indios

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Classical: Art songs World: South American Moods: Solo Instrumental
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Aires Indios

by Piraí Vaca

"... Piraí Vaca was granted the "Fellowship of the Americas"... an excellent choice by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts of the most representative of the Latin American guitar...”
Genre: Classical: Art songs
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sonata Chiquitana XVIII: I. Allegro
3:19 $0.99
2. Sonata Chiquitana XVIII: II. Andante
6:15 $0.99
3. Sonata Chiquitana XVIII: III. Presto
1:55 $0.99
4. Aire Indio 1
3:08 $0.99
5. Aire Indio 2
3:57 $0.99
6. Aire Indio 3
3:28 $0.99
7. Aire Indio 4
2:06 $0.99
8. Aire Indio 5
2:29 $0.99
9. Aire Indio 6
2:33 $0.99
10. Alma Cruceña
5:56 $0.99
11. Leyenda
3:13 $0.99
12. Feria
3:00 $0.99
13. Guadalquivir
5:47 $0.99
14. Allegretto Scherzando
2:49 $0.99
15. Nevando está
3:18 $0.99
16. Epicedia
8:08 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
This disk of Bolivian music has had a long gestation process. The idea of making it is one that has pursued me since my adolescence. Although I believe, really, that it is a sort of debt which I was born with. A kind of job that I had to do and I think I had it written on my back even before my parents called me Piraí, like an indian.

Nevertheless, when I began to study music all my efforts were aimed at absorbing foreign culture, at studying the classics and at playing the standard repertoire for the guitar. For fifteen years, I was on three continents, always pursuing the best way to receive my formation from the hands of great masters. In spite of the distance, I returned to my country regularly; I returned to give concerts, to see my people and to breathe the air of my places. It is only recently, however, that I understand how important it has been for me to keep up this close link. I have learnt to distinguish my roots and, even though I feel more and more that the whole world is our house, I also understand better my strong connection with the place where I grew up, where I made contact with the world for the first time.

Each return to Bolivia created new links; I began to feel gratitude to those people who filled my concerts, I began to get to know Bolivian music and I discovered the deep love of the jungle which I carry within me.

It was in those years that I began to realise why I am a musician. In my search for expressiveness, I discovered that sounds, shades and colours do not spring from the hands; rather they come from the spirit, the body magnifies them and the hands are merely the last stage of the journey. This integral vision, in turn, opened the doors for a new perception of the world. In my concerts, at the moments of greatest inspiration, the universe revealed itself to me in a different way: suddenly, I found myself steeped in meditation, time stood still and everything happened without effort, as if carried forward by the rhythm of the universe. In those moments, the music flowed as naturally and perfectly as a sunset and I stopped being Piraí in order to become one with everyone, and people were no longer themselves in order to become one through music. Music is capable of making us recognise the best of ourselves. Music may help us to overcome our differences.

It is this personal development that allows me to see in our native people societies that are wiser and more human than ours and to recognise in these cultures – owners of a tradition of life with nature – the model for life with solidarity that we have always dreamed of.

Notes on the Composers and Works

The XVIII CHIQUITANA SONATA (from “Chiquitos”, a region in the jungle of Bolivia)), recovered by the musicologist, Piotr Nawrot, is a work belonging to Bolivian Colonial Baroque. Of the series of Sonatas for two violins and accompaniment found, almost 20 have managed to be reconstructed but many others remain of which only fragments have survived. There is no doubt about the fact that this music was composed in Europe, brought by the Jesuits to the Chiquitania and copied by American musicians. Their origins can be found in some place in Italy. Nevertheless, in order to situate these works in the South American colonial reportoire, they have been called Chiquitana Sonatas, in spite of the fact that the manuscript reveals no connection with the indians of this region.

When Piotr put this music into my hands, I immediately thought of creating a version for the guitar. Translating the three original instruments to the guitar presented few problems. I filled in some harmonies, I changed the bass octaves and I ornamented the piece freely to emphasis its character. The result is a highly demanding technical work which possesses two lively, happy movements, contrasting with a slow, sad one.

EDUARDO CABA (Potosï, 1890 – 1953) knew how to combine the sonorous and harmonic techniques of impressionism with folklore themes, his production coinciding with the “indigenous” Bolivian plastic artists. A talented creator, his work constitutes a synthesis of the folklore of Bolivia, especially his Indian Airs, songs, the Kollana and Potosí ballets and his poem Quena for flute and orchestra. In 1942, he was the Director of the National Conservatory of Music in La Paz. Caba owed his first formation to his mother, later on to Felipe Boero in Buenos Aires and, finally, to Joaquín Turina and Pérez Casas in Madrid, where he studied with the benefit of a scholarship from the Bolivian government.

The Seis Aires Indios (Six Indian Airs), originally for piano, evoke the profound, mystic atmosphere of the Bolivian Andes. In some of them, by way of contrast, vivid dances emerge which reveal the rhythmic and earthy aspect of these people. I have worked on the Six Indian Airs for several years, transforming them time and time again as my conception of the instrument gradually changed. Finally, I believe that I have obtained the ample but, at the same time, intimate sonority I wanted for this work, one which highlights the evocative nature of these pieces.

The Chapi Luna, as Jorge Luna (Oruro, 1906 – 1949) was affectionately known, was a composer who left behind many beautiful melodies which still resound in the songs of the people. Alma Cruceña is just one of them and it is a sort of hymn for Santa Cruz, the city where I was born. Luna was an excellent pianist. The authorities of Oruro declared him a “Notable Citizen”.

There is an interesting story behind my version of this piece. One day, surrounded by jungle, Alma Cruceña (soul of Santa Cruz) started to sound in my head. The melody appeared in an embroidery of arpeggios which seemed to fall from the leaves of the trees that surrounded me in that exuberant jungle in front of me. Then the line alone kept on singing in my ears and its beauty was such that I imagined notes that barely accompanied it, laying bear its true charm. Later on, guitar in hand, the arrangement practically formed itself and showed me my love for this land: the jungle and its passion in the arpeggios, love and melancholy in the almost naked melody, the open-hearted people throughout. So it was that at some time I wrote...

“.... and I will walk through the reddish dusk which warms my heart. I will navigate around that warm air that surrounds my land, I will fly over those branches that form the jungle I love, those powerful forests that are the greatness of my spirit, the entangled jungle that is the seal of my nobleness… once there, I want to die wrapped in that evening breeze ... let me be the intuition of these jungles that call me. Let me be the arms of the river that courses through my veins, grant me the virtue to live in the natural harmony of its intentions...”

ALFREDO DOMINGUEZ (Tupiza, 1938 – 1980), whose father was a carpenter and whose mother was a vendor of ice cream and sweets, came from a humble home. When he was twelve, he experienced an incident at school that marked the rest of his life: one day he pushed a teacher because he had called him a “half-breed indian”. He abandoned the school and escaped from his home to Argentina where he joined in the harsh harvesting in exchange for a plate of food. There, among the Argentinean minstrels, Alfredo heard the guitar and yearned to learn how to play it.

Once back in Tupiza – the police made sure of that – his father discovered Alfredo´s fondness for the guitar and he made him his first instrument on which, at the age of thirteen, he began to learn - self-taught. Years later, thanks to Adalberto Barrientos, he corrected his fingering and touch and got to know classical guitar techniques.

Alfredo also had an innate talent for drawing and caricature and, as if that were not enough, he was also a much sought-after goalkeeper. Music and painting won the day and, in 1967, he won the gold medal as the best Latin American soloist at the International Festival of Salta, Argentina.

Domínguez gave concerts in Europe, the USA and the Soviet Union and his engravings received high praise from the specialists and were exhibited in an itinerant tour along with paintings of Dalí and Picasso, among others.

Alfredo died in Geneva, leaving behind, both in his music and in his recordings, a profile of cheerfulness, humour, simplicity and profound humanity which were always his personal seal throughout his life.

“... I’d love to become that same third class primary pupil again to be able to tell the teacher that the children without money or shoes can also do good things ... it is in the schools that discrimination begins. On occasion, I have chased birds with my sling, but it was only for the peace of my stomach. We are poor but in our country there is a large dose of optimism; we are poor, yes, but we don’t let that get us down. Once I dreamt about Bolivia inside a flower and the nicest thing was that the flower grew from here, from the heart; with that dream, I made a song...”

Leyenda (Legend) and Feria are two originally very short pieces that I have treated fairly freely. I have invented new sections, repeated others and filled in harmonies, as well as giving them a more urban, rock nature, characteristic of the environment in which I grew up.

GILBERTO ROJAS (Oruro, 1916 – 1983) began his music and piano studies in 1927 at the National Conservatory of Music under the instruction of Gonzalés Bravo and Manuel Sagárnaga, becoming a pianist who was recognised in the local circle. Enchanted by the folklore of his country, he also learnt to play the Charango (a typical string instrument), which was the beginning of a career as a composer during which Gilberto Rojas created, as few others have done, several of the most famous Bolivian melodies based on its folklore and which today are still sung by the people, revealing their true feeling. In his performances he presented himself with these verses: “In Bolivia, the land which gave me birth, in Bolivia, my land, I learnt to love. I will leave behind many flowers of inspiration, my songs and my heart”.

Fernando Arduz, guitarist and arranger, intercalates traditional Tarijeño songs from different times of the year and links them by means of the song Guadalquivir, constituting a kind of Rondo based on an idea of Nestor Olmos. Arduz has left us a singular piece where the guitar imitates, in an extraordinary way, various typical Tarijeño instruments, such as, the caja, the camacheña, the erke and the caña, demonstrating creative sonorous possibilities of the guitar, some of which were invented by A. Dominguez.

HUMBERTO VISCARRA MONJE (La Paz, 1891 – 1971) studied under Pietro Bruno in La Paz and Giobanini, Decreus and Isidore Philipp in Paris. On returning, he gave recitals in which he disseminated mainly Russian and French works. His fine sensibility and vast culture enabled him to tackle diverse creative genre from poetry, the essay and criticism – sometimes very scathing – to musical composition. He made a great contribution to the teaching of music: he was, for several years, the director and piano teacher of the National Music Conservatory and, in 1940, he founded the Man Césped Music Academy in Cochabamba. He won the National Prize for Culture in1970.

The Allegretto Scherzando is a piece for the piano which exudes a special freshness, appropriate to its simplicity and folkloric air. The guitar version involved more problems than usual, since I had to change some sections radically so that they would be playable and expressive on my instrument.

ADRIAN PATIÑO (La Paz, 1895 – 1951) received his first lessons from Rosendo Torrico, in whose orchestra he became the clarinet player, while he continued his studies at the National Conservatory, of which he was later on to become director. President Saavedra named him professor of the Schools of Music and the City Council of La Paz made him singing teacher of the municipal schools where he organised choirs and juvenile orchestras. President Siles named him Sub-Lieutenant in the army and he began a career where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He re-organised the Military School of Music and he was Director General of the Army Bands. As an interpreter, he played the clarinet, the oboe and the piano. Nevando Está (It´s snowing) is his best-known composition of a folk nature and it is a piece that I have always wanted to play.

CERGIO PRUDENCIO (La Paz, 1955) is a composer and orchestra director, researcher and teacher. He studied music in the Catholic University of Bolivia and participated in the Latin American Courses in Contemporary Music, as well as private studies in classical guitar, traverse flute, piano and percussion.

Attracted by the force and sonority of the vast Aymara universe, he found there new alternatives for composition. The foundation of the Experimental Orchestra for Native Instruments (1980), obeys the powerful call of these manifestations. With this orchestra, he has developed a contemporary aesthetic with strong ancestral roots and he has participated in international festivals of contemporary music in South America as well as in Europe, Australia and Korea.

“ ... when Latin American composers know as much, and as well, about our ancestral and popular music as we know about Bach, we will surely not compose as we do today ... I have found an inexhaustible vein in Aymara music and, in its instruments, the musical language I want to develop ...”

He has created music for conventional formations and instruments, such as, chamber, solos and electro-acoustic. In the audio-visual field, his music accompanies more than forty Bolivian films and videos, some of which have obtained important international prizes. He boasts nine recording titles as a composer and director.

Prudencio has composed works on request for the Festival of Perth – Australia (of which he was resident composer in 1996), for the Swiss percussion group, Metraxa (1997), the Donaueschinger Musiktage Festival (1999), the TaG Ensemble (2002) from Switzerland and the San Martin Theatre in Buenos Aires (2003). He was resident composer in the castle of Wiepersdorf (Berlin).

Epicedia is a homage to the Uruguayan composer of popular music, Jorge Lazzarof (1950 – 1989) and is built on the basis of very characteristic gestures of the instrument, such as, the use of the same sound in different chords which creates a series of harmonic relationships through the unisons. Epicedia is a restrained, expressive, emotive lament.

Piraí Vaca



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