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Gabriela Ortiz

Altar de Muertos

string quartet (1997)
Duration37'
MovementsI. Ofrenda
II. Mictlan (place of dead)
III. Danza Macabra
IV. La Calaca
CommissionKronos Quartet and Inroads, a program of arts international with funds from the Ford Foundation, the multi-arts production fund of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Festival Internacional Cervantino
PremiereApril, 1997; Theater Artaud, San Francisco, CA; Kronos Quartet
PublisherPSNY

Media

Program Note

The tradition of the Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico is the source of inspiration for the creation of Altar de Muertos, for string quartet, whose ideas could reflect the internal search between the real and the magic, a duality always present in Mexican culture, from the past to the present.

Altar de Muertos is divided into four parts, each of these describes diverse moods, traditions, and the spiritual worlds which shape the concept of death in Mexico, plus my own personal concept of death.

I. Ofrenda

This music describes the visit of four spirits to the altar, each one singing his/her own ofrenda (offering). Towards the end of this movement, the four spirits converge in a single chant as to the end of a funeral procession.

II. Mictlan

Pre-Hispanic Culture conceived death as a cycle in constant movement; a cycle where life is extended towards death and vice versa when death becomes the essence of life itself. The passage of death, and the eternal struggle between night and day, recreate an obsessive ritual music, always in continuous movement, with starting and ending points that are always bonded.

III. Danza Macabra

"Human life is like a shadow"

The advent of European culture in Mexico and Mesoamerica brought an image of death which is static and motionless, where there is only place for a constant alternative between glory and hell. This music is nourished from fantastic images taking place one after another. Phantasmagoria and magic are always present.

IV. La Calaca

Syncretism and the concept of death in modern Mexico, chaos and the richness of multiple symbols, where the duality of life is always present: sacred and profane; good and evil; night and day; joy and sorrow.

This movement reflects a musical world full of joy, vitality and a great expressive force.

At the end of "La Calaca"  I decided to quote a melody of Huichol origin, which attracted me when I first heard it.  That melody was sung by Familia de la Cruz. The Huichol culture lives in the State of Nayarit, Mexico. Their musical art is always found in ceremonial and ritual life.

Optional: Each musician can put a Mexican mask on.

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Full score and Solo Part (Digital)

Chamber Ensemble Score (Print)

Piano Reduction and solo parts (Digital)

Choral Score Set - 16 copies (Print)
Includes 8 copies of the soprano/alto part and 8 copies of the tenor/bass part.

Score and part (Digital)

Score and part (Print)

Conductor Score (Print)

Full Score/Violin Part (Print)

Full Score/Violin Part (Digital)

Piano reduction and solo part (Print)

Piano/Vocal Score (Print)

Piano/Vocal Score (Digital)

Video and instructions (Digital)

Study Score in Two Volumes (Print)

Score and Parts (Digital)
Score and part PDF files are delivered via email upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase.

Soprano/Alto Part (Print)

Full Score (Digital)
A PDF file of the full score is delivered via email upon receipt.

Full Score (Print)
A print edition of the score ships to the customer's address upon receipt.

Tenor/Bass Part (Print)

Parts (Digital)
A PDF file of the part(s) is delivered via email upon receipt.

Parts (Print)
A print edition of the part(s) ship to the customer's address upon receipt.

Solo Instrument Score (Digital)
A score PDF file is delivered via email upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. An email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer's email address.

Full Score/Performance Score (Digital)
The full score serves as a performance score for all players. A score PDF file is delivered via email upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. An email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer's email address.

Score and Parts (Print)
A print edition of the score and part(s) ship to the customer's address upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. The email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer.

Solo Instrument Score (Print)
A print edition of the score is shipped to the customer's address upon receipt. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase. An email containing a link to download the electronic files is sent to the customer's email address.

Full Score/Performance Score (Print)
The full score serves as a performance score for all players. Print edition(s) of the full score/performance score are shipped to the customer's address upon receipt. Multiple copies are included if the work has more than one player. Any electronic files associated with the work are included with every purchase.

Choral Score (Digital)
A PDF file of the choral score is delivered via email upon receipt. The set is priced to allow multiple copies of the PDF to be printed for performance by the purchasing organization only.

Choral Score Set- 8 copies (Print)
Minimum order quantity is 8 copies. Single copies are not available.

Vocal Score (Digital)

Vocal Score (Print)

Choral Score (Print)

Full Score and Solo Part (Print)
A print edition of the score and solo part ships to the customer's address upon receipt.

Study Score (Print)

Study Score (Digital)