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Nov 2 2023

Robert M. Stevenson Lecture with Jaime E. Oliver La Rosa

Lani Hall

Varése, Roldán, and Networks of Afro-Cuban musical instrument exchange: decolonizing Western percussion music through critical Instrumentation

This paper uses two simultaneous works of percussion--“Ionisation” (1929-1931) by French-American composer Edgard Varèse (1883-65) and “Rítmicas” V and VI (1930), by Cuban composer Amadeo Roldán (1900-39)-- to explore the construction of the borders between Western and “other” musics and the role that folk music, race, and colonialism have played in shaping them. Roldan’s work has often been depicted as a work of lesser value under the assumption that Varèse’s was developed first and was therefore, pioneer. These debates have however obscured the personal relationship that existed between the two composers who heard each other’s works, exchanged letters, scores, and musical instruments. This paper reveals a complex network of relations and material exchange, including multi-step processes of material-culture appropriation, in order to highlight the entangled and asymmetric relationships between symphonic and popular music, and race, class and power dynamics. It looks into notions of “taste” in a shifting global order where lingering colonial structures shaped processes of nation-building in postcolonial Latin America while seeking to contribute to the decolonial study of music composition that, at least in Academia, remains tightly inscribed in the European tradition.

Jaime E. Oliver La Rosa (Lima, 1979) is an Associate Professor of Music at New York University, where he has taught since 2013. He lived and studied music in Peru until 2006, received his Ph.D. in Computer Music from the University of California, San Diego in 2011 and subsequently held a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Columbia University (2011-13).

His music and research explore the role musical instruments play in shaping musical practice and material culture at large, as well as the role that Latin American avant gardes have played in Western Music. His creative work has been featured in international festivals and conferences, working independently and collaborating with several composers, improvisers and artists in a field of action that spans sound performance and installation, composing and performing music, and programming open source software.

Professional recognitions include scholarships and grants from the Fulbright Commission, the University of California, Meet the Composer, the Ministry of Culture of Spain, and composition and research residencies at ZKM and IRCAM. He was awarded the Frances Densmore prize from the American Musical Instrument Society 2020, FETA Sound Arts prize in 2018, FILE PRIX LUX 2010 in São Paulo Brazil, a GIGA-HERTZ-PREIS 2010 from ZKM, Germany, and the 1st prize in the 2009 Guthman Musical Instrument Competition at Georgia Tech.

Like most of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s programs, this event is FREE! Register in advance for this event via the link below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.  Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Early arrival is recommended. Registrants receive priority up until 15 minutes before the event.

While Inside the Venue:

No Food or Drink allowed in the building.