Monday, October 26, 2009

Daniel Catan (1949-present)

Mexican composer. He graduated in philosophy at the University of Sussex (1970) and obtained the PhD in music composition and theory from Princeton University (1977), where his teachers included Babbitt, James Randall and Boretz. He also studied the Japanese traditional arts with particular focus on the combination of music and drama. He was composer-in-residence with the WNO (1986–7) and received the Placido Domingo Award for his outstanding contribution to opera in Spanish.
Catán’s output comprises mainly symphonic music, orchestral songs and operas. His work with intervallic collections creates clear tonal centres and harmonies with a structural function. His angular but eminently singable melodies meld with lush, romantic harmonies supported by a fastidiously transparent orchestration which never obscures the human voice. His most recent operas, Florencia en el Amazonas (1996) and Las bodas de Salsipuedes (1998–9), incorporate Latin American percussion instruments and rhythmic patterns derived from Afro-Caribbean popular music. La hija de Rappaccini, based on a play by Octavio Paz, and Florencia en el Amazonas (the first opera in Spanish commissioned by a major opera company in the United States), which incorporates Gabriel García Marquez’s magic realism, have marked the infusion of Latin American culture into traditional opera.

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