Erik Santos is a composer whose special interest is illuminating the
connection between music and magic:
how mundane elements, musical and non-musical, are galvanized into
powerful poetic and ecstatic experience.
Santos is on the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Music
where he teaches composition and music technology. He has been the
recipient of numerous prizes and fellowships from The American Academy of
Arts and Letters, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), The MacDowell
Colony, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Rackham Graduate School of The
University of Michigan, and was named the 1999 "Shepherd Distinguished
Composer of the Year" by the Music Teacher s National Association (MTNA).
Santos has had commissions for theater and dance music from the Wild Swan
Theater of Ann Arbor, orchestral commissions from the Bozeman and Butte
Symphony Orchestras of Montana, and a number of commissions for chamber
works, among them: "Zauberkraft (Magic Power)" commissioned by
Danish-American percussionist Timothy Lutte for performance at the 1996
Percussive Arts Society International Conference (PASIC) in Nashville,
"...con Cruces de Fuego (...with Crosses of Fire)" which was commissioned
by the Michigan Music Teachers Association, and "Sun Dogs" for a new CD by
the percussion duo, Equal Temperament (Eric and Stacey Jones). The CD,
called "Parhelion" has just been released on the Eroica label. The
premiere of Santos' "...in the Mines of Desire (for choir and orchestra),"
commissioned by the Butte Symphony for its 50th anniversary, was
videotaped and broadcast by Montana PBS last year.
In 1998, in an effort to unify the wide variety of his artistic experience
into a powerful new form of expression, he produced "Cruces de Fuego
(Crosses of Fire)." This large-scale synthesis of music, dance, theater,
art, poetry, and video projections was rooted in the earthy surrealism of
Pablo Neruda, Frida Kahlo, and Remedios Varo. It sought to dissolve
traditional barriers that exist between audience and performer and the
experience of deep wonder. One of the pieces from that show, Mariposa
Morena (Dark Butterfly) appears on a newly released CD, "Alternating
Currents: Electronic Music from University of Michigan faculty"
His compositions are beginning to attract performances in other countries
as far as Australia, Denmark, Wales and the Philippines, eliciting
positive reviews: "Erik Santos captivates the listener, giving rise to
both a sense of rapture and a feeling of bewilderment..." The New Music
Connoisseur described his "Guernica Dances" for two pianos as "full of
positive excitement with a final coda that is so thrilling that the
audience broke out into loud shouts of approval at its conclusion."
Only the Dead May Drink (verses from Monadnock)
for clarinet and piano
Monadnock is the name of a famous 3,165-foot mountain in New Hampshire.
While a resident of the MacDowell Colony in 1995, I climbed to the top of
it, and RAN back down to the bottom. After climbing a mountain, one's
life is not the same as before.
As an isolated rock mass rising above a plain, it inspired the Western
Abenaki Indians to give the mountain its name which means "standing
alone". The title of this piece might also be read, therefore, as
"verses from standing alone." The work is simultaneously a document of my
experience with that mountain, and a metaphor for my journey through life
Each of the work's four movements is directly related to a poem of Rainer
The piece was written for my friend and colleague, composer/clarinetist
The University of Michigan School of Music
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2085
phone: (734) 647-3337
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