Metro Chabacano (1988)

for orchestra

The seminal idea for Metro Chabacano came from an earlier piece for string orchestra, Canción de Tierra y Esperanza,  which I had presented to my parents as a Christmas gift in 1988. Having heard a cassette demo recording of that piece, my friend Alvaro Bitrán from the Cuarteto Latinoamericano insisted that I should do a version for string quartet. But since none of us had a particular occasion in mind, we eventually abandoned the idea. However, in 1990, sculptor Marcos Limenez approached me with the idea to use Canción...  to accompany one of his astonishing kinetic installations. This was to be displayed in  Mexico City’s busiest and possibly the world’s largest metro stations: Metro Chabacano. This provided the ideal motivation for me to revise the piece for the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, who did the first performance there in 1991 as part of the inauguration ceremonies. A recording of the piece was subsequently played in the station for a period of three months, which brought my work to the attention of a very large audience, as eight million people go through it every day...

In 1992, at the suggestion of my publishers, I did a string orchestra transcription and more recently, in 2014, I made a version for full orchestra at the request of my friend and conductor Juan Carlos Lomónaco, who premiered it with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional for the annual concert of the Academia de Artes de México.

Metro Chabacano has a continuous eighth-note movement of moderately driving speed from which short melodic solos for each instrument emerge. The repeated notes give a false sense of simplicity; although the piece is brief and in a single movement, the rhythms, accents and melodic fragments that surface from the motto perpetuo are intricately playful.

Preview score (fragment)

full score & performance materials available request