Orchestration: hp

Year composed: 2013

Duration: 16’

Premiere: November 17, 2013. St. John’s Episcopal Church; Brooklyn, New York, United States. Kristi Shade, harp.

Awards: 2014 Dutch Harp Composition Contest Honorable Mention


Program Note

The inspiration for Remembranzas (Remembrances), preludes for harp, came from my childhood memories. The first prelude, “Mundos” (“Worlds”), is about the vast imagination I had as a child, when I could spend hours fantasizing about fictional realities. The mysterious middle section of the prelude, with its hypnotizing ostinato, portrays my ability to become completely immersed in these imaginary worlds.

Growing up in Mexico, my favorite toy was the spin top. I enjoyed learning spin top tricks and eagerly participated in local competitions. “La Danza del Trompo” (“The Spin Top Dance”), the second prelude, musically features two of my favorite spin top tricks: “the trapeze” in measure 20, with its circuslike character, and “the carrousel” in measure 48.

The third prelude, “Volver a Patinar” (“Roller Skating Again”) was inspired by my recent attempt to practice roller skating, after more than a decade, in New York’s Central Park. I was surprised as to how difficult it was to engage in an activity that I used to master when I was young, to erase the fear and precautions that one accumulates with time, and to try to be the same person at a different age.

The title of the fourth prelude, “Son Ámbulo” (“Sleepwalker”), is a play on words generated by dividing the word “sonámbulo” (“sleepwalker”) into “Son” (literally meaning ‘sound’ in Spanish) and “Ámbulo” (a made-up word that represents, in my mind, the realm of the sleepwalker’s subconscious). The prelude recounts an episode during my childhood in which my brother and I sleepwalked, in the middle of the night, and interacted with each other as if we were awake.

The fifth and last prelude, “Primera Comunión” (“First Communion”), is a spiritual remembrance of my First Communion. The prelude embodies the serenity I felt as a child embracing the Catholic faith.

—Juan Pablo Contreras


April 20, 2019. The Wild Beast, CalArts; Valencia, California, United States. Leila Jay, harp.

March 10, 2019. Lab Theater, MSJC Menifee Valley Campus; Menifee, California, United States. Vanessa Sheldon, harp.

January 19, 2019. Amargosa Opera House; Death Valley Junction, California, United States. Vanessa Sheldon, harp.

November 17, 2013. St. John’s Episcopal Church; Brooklyn, New York, United States. Kristi Shade, harp.