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Acclaimed young Spanish violinist María Dueñas joins the European tour of Gabriela Ortiz’s concerto Altar de Cuerda, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, visiting Barcelona, Paris and London in May and June.

Gabriela Ortiz wrote her concerto Altar de Cuerda for violinist María Dueñas in 2021 and, following premieres in the US and Mexico, the soloist is in the spotlight again for the work’s first performances in Europe. She joins the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, who commissioned the concerto, for a tour conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, with concerts at the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona (28 May), the Philharmonie de Paris (30 May) and the Barbican in London (2 June). This follows further performances by the LAPhil at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (9-11 May).

Altar de Cuerda (String Altar) is the seventh in a series of ‘musical altars’ composed by Mexican-born composer Gabriela Ortiz, who signed an exclusive publishing agreement with Boosey & Hawkes in 2022. As Juan Arturo Brennan writes in his programme note, “for Ortiz the altar is not a religious concept; instead, its meaning for her tends more towards the symbolic, the spiritual and the magic; an altar is a place to throw music into relief.” Altar de Cuerda is included in the new Ortiz recording by the LAPhil and Dudamel, to be released on the Platoon label in June, also featuring her recent ballet score Revolución diamantina. To tie in with the May/June performances, the violin concerto is released in advance on all streaming platforms on 10 May.

Further information on Altar de Cuerda in:
> Los Angeles
> Barcelona
> Paris
> London

The close collaboration between Gabriela Ortiz and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra has resulted in an impressive series of commissions and premieres: Altar de piedra (2002), Téenek (2017), Pico-Bite-Beat (2018), Yanga (2019), Kauyumari (2021), Arrecife (2021), Clara (2022) and Altar de Cuerda (2022). Her music has been championed around the world by Gustavo Dudamel, both with the LAPhil and last year with the Berlin Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony.

Cast in three movements following the classic fast-slow-fast sequence, Altar de Cuerda opens with Morisco Chilango offering a musical hybrid between Ortiz’s native Mexico City and the Andalusian roots of her soloist. The central Canto Abierto refers to the open chapels built into 16th-century Mexican churches to welcome Indigenous communities, and Maya déco is a virtuosic finale prompted by the cross-assimilation between American and Mexican cultures.

“…the thrill of discovery illuminated every measure… The chunky Andalusian groove of the first movement gave way to a meditative central sequence, and Dueñas’s violin soared through the stratosphere as chimes and tuned crystal glasses added an eerie halo of sound.”
Boston Globe

“[Altar de Cuerda] begins with a scorching statement in the violin, with whacks of triangle and crotales (spooky sounding cymbals) that rise off the stage like puffs of smoke in a roiling brew. At a few points, the woodwind and brass musicians played tuned crystal cups that conjured ritualistic magic.”
The New York Times

"The beautiful, bass-heavy central movement, Canto Abierto (Open Song), conjures a mystical atmosphere of early Mexican churches. A bass drum booms, deep strings give mildewy cushion and timpani glide down as if to the center of the Earth. Wind instruments are the wind. The glistening solo violin does the singing. A final chord in the orchestra sounds electrically charged.”
Los Angeles Times

Ortiz works also travelling widely in coming months include Antrópolis in Madrid (11/12 April) and Tenerife (17 May), Clara in Helsingborg (11 April) and Vail (23 June) and Kauyamari in Atlanta (25/26 April) and Tanglewood (19 August).

>  Further information on Work: Altar de Cuerda

Photo: Gabriela Ortiz, María Dueñas, Gustavo Dudamel (courtesy of LAPhil)

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