Ni fú ni fá: New Puerto Rican Chamber Music


New England Public Media

“Washy from  Ni fú ni fá: Los cuentos de siempre” by Gabriel Bouche Caro

New Chamber Music Inspired by Puerto Rican Poet Giannina Braschi

Interview with Puerto Rican composer Gabriel Bouche Caro on his collaboration with Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi.

“Ni fú, ni fa,” an expression roughly translating to neither here nor there, is a three-movement piece inspired by three terms used by Giannina Braschi in her book “United States of Banana” to describe the three status options in Puerto Rico. These terms are Washy, representing statehood, Wishy-washy, representing the current status of “freely associated state” or colony, and Wishy, representing independence. Each of these terms is represented by a movement in the piece in which I respond to how I perceive each option. The first movement, Washy, blends static textures with violent outbursts and ironic moments drawing from colonial fife and drum music. The second movement, Wishy-washy, is very measured and regal in nature and there is a quasi concertante nature in the piano which acts in dialogue with the rest of the ensemble. In this movement there is always an underlying feeling that something isn’t quite right, and elements from the outer movements try to infiltrate the pretend stability of the movement. The third movement, Wishy, is based on flourishing outbursts from the ensemble, that still seem to struggle to maintain their own identity and form, after this, a song-like section with percussion and piano backdrop takes over, after this a final rhythmic push takes over the whole ensemble which culminates in joyful and accomplished cascading gestures.”

—Gabriel Bouche Caro, composer

Puerto Rican Composers: Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Listen to the MIFA Victory Players 2021 concert series. El Puerto Rico, a project of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, has commissioned new works by Puerto Rican composers every year since 2018, including Gabriel Bouche Caro, Carlos Carrillo, Johanny Navarro, Christian A. Quiñones, Iván Enrique Rodríguez, and Omar Surillo. The Victory Players — an ensemble of young virtuoso players from around the world led by Tianhui Ng — perform the compositions.

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