Ángel Mestizo

Orchestration: solo hp – – – 2 perc – str

Year composed: 2013

Duration: 22’

Premiere: December 4, 2014. Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral; Mexico City, Mexico. Orquesta del Festival Artístico de Otoño; Kristi Shade, harp; Jesús Medina, conductor.

Awards: 2014 Arturo Márquez Composition Contest

Recording: Albany Records TROY 1561 . Claremont Avenue Chamber Orchestra; Kristi Shade, harp; Kyle Ritenauer, conductor.


Program Note

Ángel Mestizo (Mestizo Angel), a concerto for harp and chamber orchestra, is an imaginary journey of the harp’s migration to Mexico during the Spanish conquest and its evolution to become one of the most iconic instruments in the country.

The concerto is cast in four movements. The first movement, “La Conquista” (“The Conquest”), narrates the onset of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. The movement is driven by sounds of gunshots and galloping horses. Historians believe the Spaniards first brought the harp to Veracruz, a major port on the Gulf of Mexico. “Veracruz,” the second movement, depicts the harp’s arrival in this beautiful city.

The third movement, “Cadenza Criolla,” is scored for solo harp. The cadenza incorporates thematic ideas from the previous movements and outlines the evolution of the harp in Mexico. What had been an exclusively European instrument was slowly appropriated by Mexican musicians and eventually became a folk instrument.

The finale, “Son Jarocho,” celebrates the mestizo culture that predominates in modern Mexico. The movement revolves around a festive theme that is first introduced by a solo violin. The concerto concludes in an uplifting tone praising the product of the blending of the Spanish and indigenous people: the mestizo angels.

—Juan Pablo Contreras


January 8, 2021. Teatro Taller Filarmónico – Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá. Bogotá, Colombia. Nueva Filarmonía; Martha Liliana Bonilla, harp.

March 8, 2020. Mt. San Jacinto College Theatre. San Jacinto, California, United States. MSJC Orchestra; Dr. Vanessa Sheldon, harp.

May 19, 2019. First Unitarian Universalist Church; San Diego, California, United States. Sacra/Profana; Adam Ferrera, piano; Juan Carlos Acosta, conductor.

October 4, 2018. Hauser and Wirth; Los Angeles, California, United States. Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Cristina Montes Mateo, harp.

 December 2, 2016. Teatro Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios; Boca del Río, Veracruz, Mexico. Boca del Río Philharmonic Orchestra; Baltazar Juárez, harp; Iván López Reynoso, conductor.

 September 19, 2015. Teatro Degollado; Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Jalisco Chamber Orchestra; Kristi Shade, harp; Leonardo Gasparini, conductor.

 December 4, 2014. Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral; Mexico City, Mexico. Orquesta del Festival Artístico de Otoño; Kristi Shade, harp; Jesús Medina, conductor.


“Ángel Mestizo is a rhythmically rich and colorfully Mexican harp concerto.”
Iván Martínez
El Universal
“Ángel Mestizo is an appealing and effective work, with many beguiling moments as the protagonist makes a journey of cultural transformation towards a festive conclusion.”
Mark Lehman
American Record Guide
“Ángel Mestizo is an ambitious work, taking in the history of Mexico and the evolution of its social order – using the harp as the musical focal point was a brilliant choice. The scoring and orchestration is fully formed and mature beyond the years of the composer. The music of Juan Pablo Contreras would be a fine addition to the repertory of any American chamber orchestra seeking to connect with a contemporary Latin audience.”
Paul Muller
Sequenza 21