In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Astor Piazzolla.
Astor Piazzolla was an Argentine tango composer, bandoneón player, and arranger whose works revolutionized the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements from jazz and classical music. He received his first bandoneón at age eight and learned to play both that instrument and the piano as a child. In 1936, Piazzolla began playing with a variety of tango orchestras, and at age 17, he moved to Buenos Aires to form his own orchestra, compose new works, and experiment with the sound and structure of the tango. Having won a composing contest with his symphonic piece Buenos Aires, he went to study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. She urged him to remain true to himself and to continue his experiments with the tango. When he returned again to Argentina, he formed the influential Quinteto Nuevo Tango, featuring a violin, electric guitar, piano, double bass, and bandoneón. Though many of his 750 compositions were written for that quintet, he also composed pieces for orchestra, big band, bandoneón, and cello. His innovations, including counterpoint and new rhythms and harmonies, were initially not well received in Argentina, but they were greatly admired in the United States and Europe. Piazolla’s choral works remained intimately tied to the tango and his famous works include Libertango and Adios Nonino.
Suggested Choral Pieces: