Screenshot 2024-05-23 at 4.53.22 PM

Video Premiere: Ayano Kataoka Performs “Huancara” by Francisco del Pino

Whether highlighting his love of contrapuntal textures, his use of melodies and chords that magnify an instrument’s natural resonance, or embracing the kinesthetic pleasures of music-making, Francisco del Pino is constantly identifying new ways to communicate, reflect, and call upon through his music.

Huancara for solo percussion is such an example. Composed for Ayano Kataoka as part of a program with Iannis Xenakis’ Rebounds A, Huancara shares Xenakis’ instrumentation (two bass drums, three tom-toms, two bongos), plus a set of wooden planks and metallic instruments.

The physicality of the work is evident; in the Four/Ten Media video, Kataoka never stops moving, whether she’s called to maintain a low ostinato on the bass drum or skate across the planks, cowbell-like instruments, or tom-toms. It’s in the more active middle section that del Pino’s penchant for contrapuntal lines shines, enhanced by the diversity of percussive timbres.

Francisco del Pino (Courtesy of artist) and Ayano Kataoka (Photo by John Solem)

Francisco del Pino (Courtesy of artist) and Ayano Kataoka (Photo by John Solem)

Here’s what Francisco has to say about the piece:

I frequently impose little composition exercises on myself, playing with invented rules and constraints. I wanted to find out to what extent I could make an entirely unpitched setup ‘sing’. Blending formalism and viscerality, Huancara is a highly demanding piece, and I could not have written it without the virtuosity and sensitivity of Ayano Kataoka as my ally.

The title refers to the pulsating bass drum that forms the heart of the piece. Huancara–hispanicized from wankara, the Aymara word for “drum”–is a type of large drum used extensively in traditional Andean music, frequently performed outdoors in combination with panpipe ensembles as part of agricultural and religious festive days. In writing this piece, I had in mind the sounds, the vast views, and the nostalgic festiveness of parades and carnivals in Northwest Argentina.

This recording was made possible thanks to the support of the Music Department at Princeton University and the Department of Music and Dance at UMass Amherst. 

About Francisco del Pino

Francisco del Pino is a Buenos Aires, Argentina-born composer and guitarist with an affinity for music that is meticulous, expressive, and patient. Drawing influence from both classical and vernacular traditions, his work revolves around process and pattern and is usually characterized by an extensive use of counterpoint. Francisco’s debut album Decir, a song cycle on texts by Argentinian poet Victoria Cóccaro described as “stunning” (Bandcamp Daily), was released on New Amsterdam Records in 2021. Francisco is currently based in Princeton, NJ, where he is a doctoral fellow in composition at Princeton University.

About Ayano Kataoka

Percussionist Ayano Kataoka is known for her brilliant and dynamic technique, as well as the unique elegance and artistry she brings to her performances. She has been a season artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 2006, when she was chosen as the first percussionist for the society’s prestigious residency program, The Bowers Program. She gave the world premiere of Bruce Adolphe’s Self Comes to Mind for cello and two percussionists with cellist Yo-Yo Ma at the American Museum of Natural History. She presented a solo recital at Tokyo Opera City Recital Hall which was broadcast on NHK, the national public station of Japan. Other highlights include a theatrical performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale at the 92nd Street Y with violinist Jaime Laredo and actors Alan Alda and Noah Wyle, and a performance of Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion at Alice Tully Hall with pianist Emanuel Ax. Her performances can also be heard on the Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, New World, Bridge, New Focus, and Albany recording labels. Ms. Kataoka is currently Professor of Percussion at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She was a visiting professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln (Wuppertal) in Fall/Winter 2023-24.


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