New Music’s Multicultural Turn: Osvaldo Golijov at the Millennium

New Music’s Multicultural Turn: Osvaldo Golijov at the Millennium

Wednesday@Noon Series
Andrea Moore, "New Music's Multicultural Turn: Osvaldo Golijov at the Millennium"
February 8, 2017

New Music’s Multicultural Turn:
Osvaldo Golijov at the Millennium

Andrea Moore
UCR Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Music

Many scholars have examined the musical politics of the Cold War era, considering the influence of global politics on the production and reception of new music in the mid- to late twentieth century. Until recently, however, there has not been a great deal of attention to the post-Cold War period, and what the suspension of Cold War politics meant for new music culture. Much of my research takes the end of the Cold War (1989-1991) as a point of departure, and looks at how composers, performers, presenters, and other new music stakeholders in the U.S. reacted to the international dynamics created by a shifting global geopolitics, and the national soul-searching that ensued.

In this talk, I consider Osvaldo Golijov’s eclectic, pan-Latin Passion, La Pasión según San Marcos (2000) as a case study in a post-Cold War musical trend that I call the “multicultural turn.” Commissioned for the Bachakademie Stuttgart’s “Passion 2000” project, Pasión’s subsequent performances in the U.S. inspired critics to see in its use of non-Western materials a revival or resurrection of classical music itself. I argue that part of Pasión’s success was Golijov’s participation in the multicultural turn, in which the terms of musical progress expanded from an earlier focus on technical innovation to include an aesthetic of personal representation.

I lay out the techniques of this “incorporation aesthetic,” a compositional approach that emphasized the personal, national, or religious identity of the composer. The expanded pluralism of 1990s new music in the U.S. can be partly attributed to this approach, which also included composers like Tan Dun, Arvo Pärt, and Sofia Gubaidulina. Composers from Eastern bloc countries fared especially well under these terms, as they could provide Western audiences with a post-Communist musical narrative of emancipation from state domination. It is in the context of both post-Cold War anxieties and triumphalism that I consider Golijov’s Pasión as both an exemplar of the incorporation aesthetic, and an unexpected departure from it.


Headshot Photo Credit Elisa Ferrari

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