Trio (2012)— Octavio Vazquez

"After thirty, forty, fifty years of this experience we call life (life on Earth, so to speak), we often get more attached to things, to our stories. As we live this life our personal stories grow and develop, and we easily and increasingly identify with the life-stories that we experience as if we became the sum total of what we have done and what has happened to us. When we were small children there wasn't much of a story to identify with. A story was given to us, we were given names, sets of circumstances, families and cultures and countries with their own stories that we were to assume as our own, and to which we could then add whatever happened later. We are born into stories and live stories, and so little by little a complex identity is constructed by addition, and since there is always something new happening to be added to the story, this identity evolves in time. And yet one is 'oneself' throughout the whole experience, then as now, so there is another identity achievable by subtraction, by removing all that has gotten attached, by assiduously letting go of all the stories and seeing whether there is anything left at the end. This piece points at that which remains being 'us' throughout all the experiences, all the stories, and in doing so transcends this funny concept we call 'time.'

The first movement opens with bell-like chords in the piano, and a short, pointillistic motive, all somehow reminiscent of an old pendulum clock. It follows a nursery-rhyme kind of melody high up in the piano, answered by the violin playing pizzicato, while the clarinet plays a few melancholic notes underneath. The nursery-rhyme theme darkens a bit and evolves into some sort of slow tango, while the pizzicato of the violin keeps the idea of a mechanical timepiece. The whole first movement progresses from these initial ideas, focusing perhaps on the passage of time and the recollection of childhood and youth memories.

The second movement takes the secondary 'melancholy melody' of the first and turns it around completely, presenting it in an energetic, life-affirming way, and making it the main theme of this section. As such, it undergoes all sorts of transformations: augmentations, diminutions, inversions, and retrogrades. The nursery-rhyme theme of the first section comes back too, transformed variously into a waltz and into a tango, this time at a faster tempo. An additional theme is introduced, with an Eastern European flavor, a bit klezmer and a bit gypsy, a theme that celebrates life and laughs through tears. Eventually, the old pendulum clock returns, ominously now, insisting with increasing intensity on the inevitable passage of time. The final measures of the piece brings back the nursery-rhyme theme in yet another incarnation, one that has perhaps achieved some sort of balance, or somehow transcended the conflict of the former themes."

  —  Octavio Vazquez

The world premiere of Trio was on June 26, 2013 in the final concert of the Verdehr Trio Summer Chamber Music Concert Series at the Wharton Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.



Octavio Vazquez (born 1972, Santiago de Compostela, Spain) spontaneously started writing music at the age of seven. At twelve, he became music director at St. Peter's church in Lugo. In 1989, he moved to Madrid where he studied at the Adolfo Salazar Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory of Music, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in piano, theory, and accompaniment. After winning the prestigious Barrie de la Maza Foundation scholarship, he went on to complete the Master of Music degree in composition at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, and afterwards obtained a doctorate from the University of Maryland where he studied on a full fellowship.

Vazquez has received commissions from Hilary Hahn, Poulenc Trio, New York State Council on the Arts, New Music USA, New York State Music Teachers Association, Music Teachers National Association, Spanish Radio and Television Orchestra, Galicia Symphony Orchestra, Galicia Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Meet the Composer, Guernica Project, Via Stellae Festival, Fulbright Commission, Chi-Mei Foundation, SGAE/Autor Foundation, and Xacobeo Classics 2010. His catalog includes over sixty titles, all of them published by the Conwell Publishing Group of New York.

Vazquez's works have been performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia by some of the world's leading soloists and ensembles. In addition to concert music, he has also written for film and collaborated with world-music artists as an arranger, orchestrator, and producer, most notably with Grammy Award winner Cristina Pato. His orchestration for her CD Muller was nominated for the 2011 Spanish Music Academy Awards.

Festivals featuring his music include the Kölner MusikTriennale (Germany), Festival de Basse Navarre (France), Navarra International Festival (Spain), Prokofiev International Festival (Russia), Macedon Music (Australia), Niagara International Chamber Music Festival (Canada), Camarissima International Chamber Music Festival (Mexico), California Summer Music, European Dream Festival, Composers Now, Queens New Music and Southampton Arts (United States), the AreMore, Via Stellae, Espazos Sonoros, Clásicos en Verano, and Música en Compostela International Festivals (Spain).

Vazquez's works have been recorded for the labels NAXOS, Delos, Landra Music, Gale Recordings, Ouvirmos, Fol Musica, and Bohemia Music. They have been broadcast by radio and television stations such as PBS, PRX, Spanish National Radio and Television, New York's WQXR and Chinese International Radio.

Vazquez has given lectures and masterclasses at the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College, Hofstra University, Fordham University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, Salisbury University, and Texas Christian University in the United States; Carlos III, Santiago de Compostela and Complutense Universities (Madrid); the XXXVII Congress of the International Viola Society (South Africa); and the Next Renaissance Conference (Netherlands.)

Since 1999, Vazquez has resided in New York City. He teaches composition at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York.

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