Classical Guitar Composers Compendium: Interview with Xavier Pagès i Corella (Spain)


I'm delighted to have Xavier Pagès i Corella from Spain. Xavier will talk about his work 'Tridacna for solo guitar'.  The score of Tridacna (PDF) is available for download free of charge. You can also listen to the audio.


Q1. Please tell us about yourself. 

I was born in a town near Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain) called Sant Pere de Ribes. I studied composition and conducting in Barcelona and Vienna, and I've been trying to combine both activities at my best. I usually compose for quite large ensembles, and less frequently for solo instruments or chamber ensembles. My musical language has changed a lot since the beginning of my career. I used to compose in a quite tonal style, highly influenced by composers like Debussy, Stravinsky or Bartok, and I also enjoyed very much using jazzy rhythms and harmonies. At the moment, my language is less traditional, and I am in the way of creating a communicative yet personal language that I hope I will gradually develop in the future. 



Q2. Please tell us about your work "Tridacna". (What inspired you to compose this work? Also please tell us about the composition process. What is it like composing for the guitar? 

"Tridacna" is what some people call "absolute music". It is not inspired in anything in particular, but it only follows the own needs of the musical discourse as I feel them. It is divided in three movements of contrasting character. The first one begins with a recitative section followed by a kind of dance inspired in the traditional music of the south of Spain. The second one is build with fast arpeggios, creating at the end a more ethereal atmosphere with the use of harmonic sounds. The last one is more rhythmical and influenced by the time signature changes typical of Stravinsky. This last movement has a lullaby-like section in the middle, which uses the glissando technique throughout. 
I am not a professional guitarist, so writing for guitar is quite laborious for me. I used to play a little bit this instrument, so I could manage to check with my own guitar if chords and jumps where possible… My creative process is quite simple. I first search for a good musical idea (I mean “idea” in a general sense, a driving force, not a theme, a melody or any musical material in particular). Once I have found this idea, the work develops itself. I only have to accompany the music and leave it to flow. 



Q3. Please tell us about your artistic vision as a composer. (What is your approach in dealing with tradition, whilst also searching for a new style/sound? Nationalistic and globalised musical expression, etc.) 

I am convinced that the new will only survive if it encloses the old. I use to give the example of new mathematical theories. An old mathematical theory is fully true, till appears a new one that demonstrates that it was not the whole true. The new mathematical theory usually includes the old one, it does not contradict it. I think that in music, and also in other fields, the “true” new contributions should be built on the old, not from scratch. This is the way I try to develop my language, in a natural way, building from what it was built in the past. 
I also think that the point is not if the music has to be nationalistic or globalized, but if it has to be personal. If the composer is a citizen of the world, that is, he is constantly travelling, in contact with several cultures and persons from all the world, then his/her music will be necessarily global. If the composer does not travel a lot, he is not much interested in what happens at the other side of the planet, and he is most influenced by the people and culture of his immediate environment, then his/her music will necessarily tend to be local or nationalistic. I don’t think one option is better than the other. They are just different situations that luckily will give different musical expressions. 


Q4. I strongly believe that we guitarists currently need more new works for classical guitar by both guitarist-composers and non-guitarist-composers. What potential do you see in this instrument? And what do you think about the role of non-guitarist-composers? 

I also think that both roles are absolutely necessary. Each of them can provide very different works that may fit different needs of the performers. Each composer has to make an effort to know his/her own weaknesses, and work hard to compensate them, though. I think that the guitar has an enormous expression potential, that can still be explored further. I have only composed one work for guitar, but I hope I will do it again in the future. 


Q5. Please tell us about your next project. 

At the moment I am just finishing a work for narrator and chamber orchestra that will be premièred in a few weeks. In December, the Galicia Symphony Orchestra will première my work “From the bottom of the mirror” which was awarded the Andrés Gaos Composition Prize last year. In June 2015 I will première pedagogical work for children chorus and professional ensemble that will be performed by thousands of children around Catalonia, Spain, Holland and Germany. It will be for sure and incredible experience that I am waiting with high expectation and illusion!