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Book of Days (Chile Premiere)

  • Opera Nacionale de Chile 794 Agustinas Santiago, Región Metropolitana Chile (map)
Roberto Diaz

Roberto Diaz

Curtis Institute of Music Director Roberto Diaz performs a work for viola, with clarinet and piano, commissioned by the Institute.

About the Concert

Como parte de la filosofía del Curtis Institute of Music de “aprender haciendo”, estudiantes y profesores recorren algunos de los escenarios más importantes en una serie de conciertos,consolidando las giras como un componente integral de la educación de Curtis. Es en este contexto que el solista chileno Roberto Díaz,violista de renombre internacional y presidente del Curtis Institute, se presentará junto a George Xiaoyuan Fu, considerado por la crítica como poseedor de un asombroso virtuosismo, y con la joven y talentosa clarinetista Tania Villasuso.

The piece will be repeated on tour in Mexico, Peru and several cities in Chile.

Learn more here.

About Curtis on Tour

Curtis on Tour builds upon the “learn by doing” philosophy of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. The program offers students realworld, professional touring experience alongside celebrated alumni and faculty. In addition to performing, students also offer master classes and interactive concerts, and participate in community engagement activities. Curtis on Tour also facilitates solo performances of Curtis students and alumni with professional orchestras and recital series.

Since Curtis on Tour was established in 2008, students, faculty, and alumni have performed more than 300 concerts in over 20 countries and 90 cities, across 4 continents. Curtis on Tour is the Nina von Maltzahn global touring initative of the Curtis Institute of Music.

Learn more here.

About the Piece

Commissioned by the Curtis Institute to craft a trio for its 2011 touring ensemble "Music From Curtis," I complied by producing a suite of memories of my student days thirty years ago.

Monday. The first movement begins with a little chorale I composed for theory and analysis teacher Ford Lallerstedt during the first week of classes I attended at the Institute. The tune is a gloss on the melody of Ring a Ring o' Roses, a nursery rhyme which has come to be associated with the Plague. It immediately morphs into an instrumental version of my setting, from the cycle Phantoms of Myself, of Susan Griffin's poem Her Sadness Runs Beside Her Like a Horse. It is included as a tribute to Karen Hale, my dear friend and classmate, for whom I composed Days Without You, a cycle of Anne Sexton settings for soprano and orchestra. Somewhere in the Curtis library is a recording of the 1983 premiere.

Tuesday. The burgundies, blood-reds, and dirty vermilions of this movement are a recollection of the 1982 night I fell in love with my then girlfriend. I shall never forget being sprawled out on the wine-dark, plushness of the carpet in the Horzowski Room, listening to her practicing, from memory, illuminated only by light creeping in from a streetlamp outside in Rittenhouse Square, the Bartok Solo Sonata. 

Wednesday. A cadenza for solo clarinet is my musical recollection of how it felt as a student when, tears coursing down my cheeks, I  first heard Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps performed-purely, before learning its title, history, or program.

Thursday. The trio together, recalls the night that I visited Norman Stumpf, my best friend (a talented composition student at Curtis who took his life) in his hospital room. I imitate the sound of a heart monitor, "slap-tongue," in the clarinet, doubled with pizzicato in the viola, just as I did in my opera Amelia as Icarus died. I follow the quotation of the tune to which Norman had set our favorite poem, Roethke's The Waking and with which I memorialized him back then in a symphony. 

Friday treats music from the beginning of Amelia, as though to give an idea of whom I have become in the intervening years. Saturday revisits music first written for a setting of Byron's Sun of the Sleepless in my cantata Light Fantastic in order to give a taste of the insomnia that set in like a piton during my Curtis years. 

The final movement, Sunday, revisits the Plague chorale. It is meant to soothe, to draw closed the curtain on those years. If, on the one hand, one risks by looking backwards turning into a pillar of salt, one must also recall that nostalgia is often "the bread of creativity."

Learn more about the piece here.