Music and mathematics have long been studied and written about as strongly connected to one another. For Mexican composer Enrico Chapela, music and mathematics seemed to be joined at the hip if we but look at the titles of many of his compositions. Chapela’s Radioaxial is having its world premiere at Music Hall on Friday April 6 and 7, and we had an intriguing visit with the composer on the morning of the concert.
We opened what had been planned as an interview but quickly developed into a laid-back conversation by asking how could a composer of such cutting edge music as his make a living in Mexico. Chapela’ response (and note I do not quote him verbatim) was as measured as our question was blunt. In his case, indeed, it has been possible to dedicate all his time during the last fifteen years to making, teaching, playing and composing music in his homeland and internationally.
There has been a great deal of support for all his dedication and hard work, and that has allowed the 42-year old composer to finally phase out a formerly heavy teaching load to devote all of his time to composing, as commissions keep coming in and with each new commitment weeks of intense labor that balances inspiration with perspiration.
Chapela mines forms and sounds as diverse as those of the national music of his homeland, heavy metal rock, jazz, electronics and above all the corners of an inexhaustibly creative imagination. The composer flat out rejects the label “classical music” which he rightly says can only be used to describe the compositions of 18th century masters. Instead he prefers the simpler label – if one need be used – of ‘contemporary’ music.
Much too busy with the here and now of his world to worry about the future of concert music, Chapela writes from the gut and from the intellect, crafting music that has blown off the roofs of many august institutions where his music has been conducted by the likes of Essa-Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel, and played by large ensembles – Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra – and small groupings of instrumentalists interested in what lies beyond rather than in what has preceded the music of today.
Enrico Chapela’s Radioaxial premieres as part of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Season 2017-2018.
Rafael de Acha http://www.RafaelMusicNotes.com April 6, 2018
Listen to: https://youtu.be/_bplOksJTWQ : The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Autonomous National University of Mexico plays Enrico Chapela’s Lunática, conducted by Niksa Bareza