Pirámide del Sol

Orchestration: solo pno – 3.3.3.3 – 4.3.3.1 – timp; 4 perc – cel; hp – str

Year composed: 2015

Duration: 25’

Commission: Mexican Endowment for the Arts and Culture with support of the EtM Con Edison Composers’ Residency, administered by Exploring the Metropolis in New York.

Premiere: September 11, 2015. Palacio de Bellas Artes; Mexico City, Mexico. National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico; Abdiel Vázquez, piano; Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor.

Awards: 2017 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award Honorable Mention

Score

Program Note

Teotihuacan, whose name means “city of the gods,” was the first great metropolis in America. Located in the Valley of Mexico, its pre-Columbian inhabitants believed that the Pyramid of the Sun, built in the heart of the city, was the matrix that gave birth to humanity. The inspiration for Pirámide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) came from envisioning that the layout of Teotihuacan is replicated when a piano concerto is performed, placing the solo instrument (pyramid) at the front of the stage and surrounding it by the orchestra (civilization).

The murals in Teotihuacan indicate that its citizens were the first to practice the “Juego de Pelota” (“Ballgame”), a ritual in which its players struck a ball with their hips to pass it beyond their opponent. The winner received the honor of being sacrificed as an “Ofrenda” (“Offering”) to the gods. The concerto is a musical portrait of this rite. The piano represents the Pyramid of the Sun that observes the ballgame, comments on it, and celebrates the victory and sacrifice of its winner with a “Danza Emplumada” (“Feather Dance”).

—Juan Pablo Contreras

Performances

December 4, 2016. Teatro Degollado; Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra; Abdiel Vázquez, piano; Enrique Radillo, conductor.

 November 20, 2015. Sala Simón Bolívar; Caracas, Venezuela. Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra; Abdiel Vázquez, piano; José Luis Hernández-Estrada, conductor.

 September 11 & 13, 2015. Palacio de Bellas Artes; Mexico City, Mexico. National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico; Abdiel Vázquez, piano; Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor.

Reviews

“Contreras’ Piano Concerto Pirámide del Sol will be known as one of the greatest works in the Mexican classical repertoire.”
Abidel Vázquez
Reforma
“Pirámide del Sol, a piano concerto written for Vázquez, is a conversation between the orchestra, four percussionists, and the piano as protagonist.”
Alida Piñon
El Universal
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