A Chat With Eastman BroadBand Co-Artistic Director Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon

Classic Arts Features   A Chat With Eastman BroadBand Co-Artistic Director Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon
Eastman BroadBand, the contemporary chamber ensemble from the Eastman School of Music, returns to NYC for back-to-back performances May 13-14. Co-artistic director (and 2011 Pulitzer Prize Finalist) Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon discusses his work, life and influences.


The first performance will be held at the Americas Society on Friday, May 13 at 7:00PM and will feature the New York premieres of Juan Trigos's Pulsaci‹n y Resonancias and Bagattella per Bart‹k. The second performance will be held at Symphony Space on May 14 from 5:00PM to 7:00PM as part of its Wall to Wall Festival, Sonidos program.

Both performances will showcase the work of BroadBand conductor Juan Trigos, and artistic directors Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon and will explore each composer's imaginative interaction with the art of Paul Klee, the music of Bart‹k, the literature of Juan Rulfo and Italo Calvino, and the vernacular music of M_xico.


Congratulations on being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music. How does that make you feel?

I am delighted that Comala was selected as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. I am currently working on an evening-long version of the work, featuring a larger ensemble and cast. Completing this large project will require an intense amount of effort and concentration, so I am grateful for the encouragement I feel from this recognition.

How much does your Mexican heritage and culture influence your compositions?

When I compose, I aspire to connect with something very fundamental in my emotional make-up. This is easier said than done as, like many other artists, I have to fight the fear to "reveal" myself in my work. I have found that when I take a work of art that I love as a point of departure for a composition, it is easier to overcome this fear. Perhaps it helps me to feel less "responsible." I have a deep affection for many works of Mexican literature, and have thus turned to it often as a source of inspiration. In a less tangible way, I suppose that my predilection for vivid instrumental colors, singing lines, and lively rhythms probably owes something to sensory imprints acquired as I was growing up in M_xico.

Can you tell us a little about Eastman BroadBand and their upcoming New York performances?

Eastman BroadBand is an ensemble that I co-founded with my colleague Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez at the Eastman School of Music. The ensemble seeks to bring the achievements in contemporary music of the Eastman School to a larger world-stage. The performers in the ensemble are current and recent graduates of Eastman and its programs include some music composed by Eastman faculty and/or students. A unique feature of the group is that we try to always invite seasoned professionals to perform alongside the students. We have found this to be a very motivating combination for all involved. We also have a first rate professional conductor, Juan Trigos. The programs in New York City will include music by Carlos Sšnchez-Gutierrez, Juan Trigos, and me.

Was there a defining moment or breakthrough when you decided that music would be your life?

It was a gradual realization. I began classical guitar studies fairly early in my youth and was always involved in music to some degree, but I did not see myself as a musician primarily. I thought that I would become an architect, like my father. However, in my first year at the school of architecture, I realized that I was spending most of my time thinking about music, practicing, and composing, rather than focusing on architecture. So, I made up my mind to give myself a chance to pursue music as a career. I ended up more-or-less by accident at the University of California, in San Diego, but it was a good place for me to land. There was an excellent guitar program and the school was all about composition and new music.

Any specific classical music recording that you couldn't live without?

Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.4, performed by Claudio Arrau and the Concertgebouw Orchestra.

What piece of music might work as the soundtrack to your life?

Nothing comes to mind. Perhaps this means that I have to write it myself.

Would you liken musical composition to painting (as something which you create), or butterfly catching (as something you capture)?

It is like painting a butterfly that seems to really fly, or catching a butterfly that you first have to imagine.


Friday, May 13, 7:00 PM
Eastman Broadband
Americas Society | 680 Park Avenue


Saturday, May 14 at the Wall to Wall Festival, Sonidos Program
BroadBand's appearance will take place between 4:30 PM and 5:30 PM
Eastman Broadband
Symphony Space | 2537 Broadway at 95th Street

Both performances are free of charge. To obtain entry to the May 13th performance at the Americas Society, please visit musicoftheamericas.org and click reserve.

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