Gerardo Guevara of Ecuador is this week's entry in the Consonant Classical Challenge. Guevara is considered one of the most important and influential composers in his native country. Like many composers from Central and South America, Guevara incorporates elements of folk music into his compositions. What makes his work unique is how he does so, and his source material.
The music of Ecuador has a very distinctive and different sound to it than that of Mexico (as found in the music of Frederico Ibarra) or that of Brazil (as used by Villa-Lobos).
Although Guevara's music is tonally-based, the chord progressions don't always follow Western musical traditions. And the rhythms are anything but the four-square beat divisions of European classical music.
The Divertimento para Cuerdas demonstrates how Guevara transforms simple melodies with sophisticated harmonies and driving rhythms (especially in the final movement).
"Apamuy Shungo" is a traditional Ecuadorian folksong. Although written for string quartet, Guevara's arrangement retains all the earthy vitality of the source material.
"Despedida" is a simple song for voice and piano. It's lilting melody is highly expressive while being immediately accessible to audiences (even those outside the culture).
"Albazo" is a much more advanced work, harmonically and melodically. Yet even in a contemporary classical work like this, with some extended performance techniques, Guevara still retains a link to Ecuador's musical heritage.
Guerara's choral work "Se Va con Albo Mio" presents a different side of the composer. Although the major elements of his style are still present, the rhythmic elements are somewhat muted, letting the the work flow seamlessly from start to finish.
Although Gerardo Guevara has a well-rounded catalog of compositions, very few (outside of his choral works) have been performed. Guevera has written some small- and large-scale orchestral works. And quite frankly, if someone was putting together a concert program of "Music from South of the Border," I'd much rather hear Guevara's De mestizo a mestizo, a three movement work for orchestra than yet another performance of Copland's El Salón Mexico.