Montuno for Six

As much as composers would love to have you believe that their music emanates from a touch of inspiration that comes to them after gazing upon the sea at the dusk of dawn or amidst a tempestuous summer evening and things like that, the truth is that we sometimes write our music out of spite, jealousy, competitiveness or for no reason at all. My Montuno for six was born out of one such instance of me not wanting to be left behind and, if it wasn’t for my competitive nature, I might have never written this piece at all!

There is a very talented fellow at The Juilliard School, who will go by the name of Ian. He is an outstanding pianist, a composer and a conductor and, just to be really honest here, his talent is kind of ridonculous, so naturally many of the other composers and pianists in the school are, let’s say, a little too aware of what he is up to. So, one day I am having one of my usual strolls around the third floor at Juilliard where all of the big dance studios are located and I begin to hear some really awesome music coming from... somewhere. It is a music that I had never heard before, it sounds like a silver cascade that’s just pouring in the most amazing way. I go around looking for it, whatever it might be. Then, after confusingly navigating that maze that passes as our third floor, I finally reach the room and I can see it… It is a piece for giant flute ensemble that is being rehearsed. It was nothing but an army of flutists, all standing up, playing some really awesome music and then, sitting in a chair in the middle of the room with his hands placed on his lap, there was Ian. Now, I have no idea if these people are rehearsing, recording, let alone what piece they are playing but being who I am, I immediately jumped to the conclusion they must be playing Ian’s piece. You would not believe how jealous I felt! I had no idea how he had gotten all of these people to play his music but if he did, there was no way that I wouldn’t try to do the same thing! After that I basically ran away back home and began writing my Montuno for Six, a composition for six flutes. The process for writing it was pretty normal and I wrote a very good theme for it, one that I would eventually recycle as the main theme of the first movement from Tumbao, because I wasn’t going to waste a good theme on a Flute Sextet! In an effort to try to open the piece in a very memorable way, I have 5 of the flutists doing beatboxing while the first flute plays the first theme and that’s how I wrote that.

A few weeks later I went to the performance of the piece for giant flute ensemble “just to see” what Ian had done. It turned out that the piece I heard that day wasn’t composed by him at all and it was in fact the opening piece of one of Carol Wincenc’s flute studio recital, Monochrome V by Peter Schikele, a really gorgeous composition. What I had seen the other day was Ian simply waiting for his turn to rehearse with the ensemble some other piece that included piano… so moral of the story is, let yourself be influenced by competitiveness, it might turn out that you aren’t even competing at all!