How would you tell a musical story in six minutes?
On February 8, Roberto Sierra tells his newest story by way of Latin dance, when Mark Scatterday leads the Eastman Wind Ensemble in the world premiere of Mambo metálico. Commissioned by the ensemble, the six-minute work is scored for brass, percussion, and piano.
“The mambo sound of Dámaso Pérez Prado has fascinated me for decades,” shares Sierra. Derived from African folk music, the mambo is both a Cuban musical style and a dance form. “This is the Latin sound of the 1940’s and 50’s that erupted from Cuba and captivated the ears of the world.” Pérez Prado — dubbed “El Rei del Mambo” (The Mambo King), was one of Cuba’s most influential post-WWII musicians. Prado’s style dominated the sounds of the Caribbean including Sierra’s birthplace of Puerto Rico, and directly influenced Puerto Rican music legends Tito Puente and Tito Rodríguez.
Sierra continues, “As with all my music, Mambo metálico absorbs the many Latin musical influences I grew up with — Pérez Prado’s angular rhythms, pungent melodies and static harmonies…all in the space of six minutes. From a composer’s point of view, time is relative. There is no equation to define how time elapses; and there is no formula on how to handle musical material in a fixed amount of time. You can write a piece of music that unfolds very slowly over a long period of time, or like Webern’s miniatures, you can compose a short, all-encompassing work that moves and changes quickly while revealing many things. Mambo metálico transforms the mambo’s tunes, rhythms, and harmonies into my own musical voice.”