Imaginary Tangos with Juan Sebastian Delgado

Faculty Fellow for Diversity in the Arts
Wednesday, November 6, 2024
12-1 in PAHB 216
Lunch provided
please RSVP by Oct 29

Imaginary Tangos: Research, improvisation, and performance practice in contemporary tango music.

Could improvisation—the process of creative interaction between the playing musician and a musical model—provide vital clues about a musical tradition? An examination of the history of improvisation reveals that far from being a minor, mystical, and exceptional practice, improvisation forms a basic part of most musical activity (Solis 2014). Improvisational practices have existed in tango music from its origins in the late 19th century in the Rioplatense region, where musicians performed from memory, right up to today’s electronic tango music. Scholars Gould and Keaton argue that “all improvisation in music performance relies upon the foundations of the particular musical tradition in which the work exists.” It is clear that tango’s improvisational practices convey crucial information about its evolution and performance style. In this musical discourse, the input of the performer is essential in the process of creation, not only as an interpreter but also an agent of cultural transmission and renewal. Most of the techniques peculiar to tango, however, have been passed down through oral tradition (collective and individual memory), which means that the only way of understanding and reconstructing them is through listening (research) and through the first-hand experience of performance (creation).

In this talk, I will discuss and analyze different works featuring my instrument, the cello by prominent living composers that showcase a distinctive style, musical narrative, and contemporary practices.

Bio: Argentinean cellist Juan Sebastián Delgado completed Doctoral studies in performance at McGill University in Montreal focusing on contemporary music and Nuevo Tango working with Matt Haimovitz. The CBC Radio Ideas chose his artistic research to be featured throughout Canada and he was the featured cellist in the episode Virtuoso Brain by the TV program Decouverte. Active in the creation and dissemination of new works that explore the cello in innovative ways, Juan Sebastián has conducted a variety of creation projects in 27 different countries, including three cello concertos written for him; Pájaro contra el borde de la noche for solo cello, ensemble and electronics by Luis Naon and commissioned by Radio France, Cinco Tangos Apócrifos for cello and string ensemble by Jorge Bosso (2016), and The Night of a Capricious Dawn (2022) for cello and orchestra by Jason Noble. Founding member of the duo Stick&Bow (cello&marimba), together with percussionist Krystina Marcoux, their eclectic repertoire features their own original arrangements and commissioned works. To date, they have performed in some of the top music festivals across Canada as well as international tours including France (JMF 2022 and 2023), Argentina (2022), and Colombia (2023). Analekta/Outhere recording artists, they have recorded 3 albums in 3 years; Resonance music for marimba and cello (2019), Bach’s trio sonatas together with renowned baroque expert, Luc Beausejour (2021), and Veni, Vola, Veni (2022) featuring music by Piazzolla and Beytelmann together with tango piano legend Gustavo Beytelmann (ex-pianist of Astor Piazzolla).

See his previous performances here.