From MSU Today on Impact Radio: Chilean singer and songwriter Victor Jara died in 1973 fighting for social justice in a country suffering from a military coup. His politically charged lyrics and mesmerizing melodies created hope for Latin Americans – and now MSU associate professor of composition in the MSU College of Music Ricardo Lorenz has reignited the passion with the world premiere of viola concerto, “Canciones de Jara.”
“Early on, I was affected by the fact that Victor was murdered for his music. It was his words, his poetry,” says Lorenz, who grew up in Venezuela. “His death showed me the power of music, that it can influence people to the point of becoming a threat to the government.”
Most interesting and timely, Lorenz says, is the concerto’s tribute to Jara’s “Song of the Miners,” about Chilean miners and their difficult working conditions.
Lorenz’s final song in the concerto mimics that hope – after 20 minutes of the viola fighting and eventually dying – when a guitar plays through a megaphone. It’s much like hearing Jara on the radio, Lorenz says.
“At first, I was just thinking of melodies, but the more I got into this, the more I realized the viola is Victor Jara,” he says. “I’m not quoting melodies, but I’m using the emotional content of the songs to weave a narrative.”
Hosted by Russ White.
Hear the Conversation 25:33 – 14.6 mb mp3