OLA! - Tangos and Sambas for Orchestra (1988) [0:06:30]
modern Hispanic style
Dynamic music, sounds tonal but not one triad.
Ola! in Mexican slang means "hello;" in Spanish it means "wave" or even "pandemonium." Take your pick.
This piece is the first in a projected series of concert works based on American dances. It addresses two latin-American forms, the tango and the samba. The former may be traced to Argentina in the late nineteenth century, emerging from folk sources into an urban dance. It came from the Spanish "habanera" and is related to the Cuban "danzon." The tango was introduced to the United States, in 1914, by Vernon and Irene Castle and was popularized in film performances by Rudolph Valentino. It became the rage during the nightclub era, especially at afternoon "tango teas," where gigolos taught the steps to society women. It was popular in Europe as well. The characteristic cheek-to-cheek promenade and other stylized and dramatic movements are performed by the couple, locked in dance-embrace. Such sensuousness made it as scandalous to some as the waltz had been to previous generations.
The samba comes from Brazil where it evolved from the collision of three separate musical cultures - the native Indians, the Spanish, and the Africans. It was introduced into this country at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Such Cuban-latin orchestras as Xavier Cugat and Perez Prado then made it a popular ballroom dance and it was brought into films in the 40's and 50's by Carmen Miranda. That is its hot form. The cool form, known as the "bossa nova," was practiced among such American jazz musicians as Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd starting in the late 50's. Even greater popularity came from performances by the group, Brazil '66.
The essence of this latin music is rhythm, beat and "feel." I have attempted to capture these qualities, not by transcription or paraphrase, but rather, through abstraction. This is not a suite of dances; it is a symphonic work based upon new-world musical sources. The form of Ola! is essentially binary and (for those interested in music theory) the key to its structural hierarchy is the number 5. I hope you enjoy my piece.