William Ortiz Alvarado

Compositor / Educador / Músico


En pos de un Grammy

El Nuevo Día, Espectáculos: Música

Viernes, 20 de julio de 2001, pag.96


Por Mario Alegre Barrios



Sorprendido, después de leer en estas páginas que un disco con una de sus obras es candidato a un premio Grammy en la categoría de Mejor álbum clásico, el compositor William Ortiz se comunicó con El Nuevo Día para revelarnos esta buena nueva cuyo detalle no aparece consignado en la lista de los aspirantes al que es considerado como el galardón más importante del mundo discográfico.

El disco compacto en cuestión es Tango Mata Danzón Mata Tango de Eduardo Díaz Muñoz y Roberto Limón, con la Orquesta de Baja California y para la casa M & L.


Esta producción incluye el concierto para guitarra Tropicalización, escrito en 1999 a petición de Roberto Limón para la Orquesta de Baja California, México. “En verdad me sorprendió leer en El Nuevo Día que ese disco habia sido seleccionado para aspirar a un premio Grammy”, asevera. “No me lo esperaba y la verdad que me siento feliz por ser parte de este éxito. Según me informaron, este concierto será parte de los programas que interpretará la Orquesta de Baja California en una gira a través de varias ciudades mexicanas”.


Así, William Ortiz comparte con la soprano Ana María Martínez la posibilidad de dar a Puerto Rico su primer Grammy en una categoría clásica, privilegio bastante común en géneros musicales tan populares como la salsa, el merengue y el jazz latino. En 1999 Roberto Sierra aspiró también a este honor por la grabación de Trío tropical, una obra para piano, violin y violonchelo.


El júbilo de Ortiz por esta distinción llega luego de haber culminado otro concierto para guitarra y orquesta, comisionado a través del Centro Hispanoamericano de Guitarra, con sede en la norteña ciudad mexicana de Tijuana. “El concierto se titula Esta es la tierra de los que aguantan callados y pacientes por un nuevo despertar, y está dedicado a Vieques”, apunta el compositor.


“En noviembre viajaré a Tijuana para el estreno, que tendrá como secuela interpretaciones en la Ciudad de México y en San Diego”.


El compositor William Ortiz aspira a un Grammy en la categoría de Mejor Album Clásico.

Freedom Flight. Ortiz y Piorkowski (Centaur 2413)



El Nuevo Día.


Por Marjorie Aponte


El puertorriqueño William Ortiz se une a James Piorkowski, John Sawers, Julie Newell, Daniel Ihasz y Susan Royal para interpretar 15 novedosas piezas. El folclor musical borinqueño pone a disposición de Ortiz la esencia del seis, la plena, mazurca, bomba y la danza para crear un lenguaje clásico digno de estudio. La originalidad, expresividad rítmica y gran fluidez poseen las composiciones que señalan con notas el talento, compromiso y envidiable sensibilidad de este hijo de Borinquen. Romance, una pieza para soprano y guitarra tiene sus origenes en Rosa Mystica, novela de Carlos Varo. Las nueve obras de Ortiz reflejan la idiosincrasia isleña, nuestras raices, hasta cierto grado la ya legendaria incógnita: ¿Hacia donde vamos? Sin embargo, las seis obras de Pierkowski se inclinan más a la vanguardia y están influenciadas por elementos familiares a la cultura del compositor. La participación del barítono y la soprano son más frecuentes. El excelente guitarrista y también compositor fue tocado por Shakespeare, Venezuela e imágenes religiosas a la hora de trabajar el pentagrama. Seleccione Uraca para que sienta cómo la belleza hace vibrar cada cuerda. Escuche Freedom Flight para que continúe conociendo las valiosas aportaciones de los puertorriqueños al género clasico.

GÉNERO: Música clásica contemporánea


SONIDO: Excelente



William Ortiz Scoring the street

Village Voice, Music

June 30, 1987. p.76


By Kyle Gann


We white bourgeois classical musician types have become acutely aware of what is lost when an ethnic or folk music is squeezed into the straitjacket of European notation. Reluctantly, we have learned to recognize the cultural insult implicit in, for example, Charles Wakefield Cadman’s romanticized, sanitized American Indian Songs (“From the land of the Sky-Blue Water” being the most infamous). Never again, we promise. However, I don’t believe in undervaluing Euroculture in the haste to expiate our collective guilt, and I don’t think we need to deny the worth of notation.

Village voice

It strikes me that I could write a hip review damning William Ortiz’s June 10 concert at the Alternative Museum for more than his uneven performances. Ortiz, a New York Puerto Rican who got his Ph.D. at SUNY at Buffalo, writes carefully notated compositions based on the street music of his Nuyorican neighborhood. I could talk about how much tamer his work is than the music he’s paying homage to, how the notation merely caricatures the sophisticated nuances that a hot Latin band would give the same material, and a lot of musicians for whom traditional music is sacred turf would yell "Right on!". But I didn’t feel that way. I was struck more by what Ortiz’s notation added to his sources, and by the possibilities that sprang from the two musics (both his own, after all) that he was bringing together.


Using percussion (claves, cowbell, and a variety of drums), electric guitar, flute, and recitation, Ortiz’s music was simple yet tonally sophisticated, suggestive of a Caribbean Hanns Eisler. Ghetto was a rap-medley of texts by Nuyorican poets, Ortiz’s energetic reading encircled by the trills and fluttertongues of Barbara Held’s flute, underlaid by the swells of James Pugliese’s percussion, and abandoned by Jeffrey Schanzer’s inaudible electric guitaring. Ortiz’s primary textural device, a lively Morse-code background of repeated notes, was most effective in the Street Music, where the alto flute, trombone, and vibraphone pushed the idea to an obsessive minimalism. Yet, like a benevolent sprite, the ghost of Ortiz’s teacher Morton Feldman hovered over each score, imparting sonorous touches, partcularly the pitches neutralized by chromatic adjacencies in another register that one finds in the scores of virtually any Feldman student. Such music looked back to a repertoire of Latin-influenced music written in the ’30s by William Russell, Henry Cowell, and Latin Americans such as Carlos Chavez, but the genre still sounds fresh, possibly because its performance today is neglected outside of a few German percussion ensembles.


Admittedly, my favorite piece, Subway (for trombone), exhibited the least ethnicity, possibly because the further that source is from the surface, the more mysterious its freeing influence becomes. This jauntily syncopated number in march time (which Leonard Krech blundered through as though sight-reading) kept teetering on the edge of atonality, only to somersault back into cheery F major every time. But the piece that gave Ortiz’s method the Q.E.D. was the aptly titled Urbanización, a percussion free-for-all that a Latin drummer might have improvised on the spot. Its interplay of dotted rhythms exhibited a far better structural sense than even an expert jazzer could have realized extempore, while some Feldman-y pings and clicks floated away from the main texture to make thoughtful side comments. Given such exquisiteness, the problem is then shifted to the performer, who must overcome the notation for an impression of spontaneity. Anthony Miranda did exactly that, with an abandon that drew the same whistles and “wow”s as a fiery jazz solo. The third world met the first and had a blast.


The dilemma of whether, why, and how much to attempt the nuances of a traditional music in notation is one that a cross-cultural composer will always have thown at him, either out of genuine aesthetic misgiving or mere ethnic territoriality. It was admittedly odd, in Street Music, to bear the ensemble shout in unison “Get off the wall, get off your ass/The mighty Buccaneers are a comin’ a pass.” Santa Fe composer Peter Garland, who has wrestled with it vis-a-vis American Indian music, has arrived at a hands-off attitude, feeling that the music is not his to appropriate. The issue is more sensitive when the composer isn’t from the same culture as the music he’s Westernising, but I’ve heard music by young Navajo musicians that used tamburas and East Indian drones with no apparent unease.


Notating music undeniably robs it of nuances, but it also slows down the mind enough to suggest layers of complexity inaccessible to an improviser. That’s almost a definition of composing: add six such layers and you get Schubert, 50 and you get Boulez. Look at the first draft of Finnegans Wake and you’ll see the process caught halfway. In Ortiz’s case, there were places where the music was a little thin in content, where he could have used a couple of more layers. But that was a refreshing change from most contemporary music, which is too often portentously fat with layers that smother each other. The intricacy lost in Ortiz’s translation of his Puerto Rican sources he restored on another level, resulting in a music that was direct, urgent, free of academic pretensions, and yet never simpleminded.

The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians
(Revised Edition) Edited By Stanley Sadie By Donald Thompson Ortiz (Alvarado), William (b Salinas, 30 March 1947). Puerto Rican composer. He studied Composition with Campos-Parsi and Veray at the San Juan Conservatory, continuing with Billy Jim Layton and Arel at SUNY, Stony Brook. His doctorate in composition followed studies with Lejaren Hiller and Morton Feldman at SUNY, Buffalo. He was assistant director of Black Mountain College II (1982-), and in 1986 was appointed a teacher at the BayamÛn campus of the University of Puerto Rico. A great deal of Ortiz's music is associated with the 'street music' of the Latino and black sections of the great US urban centres, principally New York City, where he lived during much of his youth. This 'urban-folk' usage, often evoking the style and the spirit of youthful street corner gatherings, reflects Ortiz's vision of his music as the 'violent beauty of urban life: the expression of the shouts in the street - those that are felt, that are muffled'. His expressed intention was to 'convert the language of the street into a legitimate instrument', a goal realized to a great extent in such works as Street Music (1980) and Graffiti Nuyorican (1983). Ortiz's palette has more recently, expanded to embrace a broader range of stylistic references, including insular Puerto Rican and generalized Caribbean allusions; characteristic of this broader vision is his SuspensiÛn de soledad en tres tiempos (1990). Ortiz has actively participated in international congresses since early in his career, and has received commissions from such organizations as the Guitar Society of Toronto, the Puerto Rico SO, the New York State Council on the Arts, Seton Hall University and the National Association of Puerto Rican Composers. WORKS (selective list) Op.
Rican (bilingual street-op), 1986
Kantuta ritual para orch, 1976; Antillas, 1981; Resonancia esférica, 1982; Llegó la banda, 1984;Joceo, str, 1987; Pasacalle, band, 1988; Concierto de metal para un recuerdo, 1989; Suspensión de soledad en tres tiempos, 1990 Vocal. 9 poemas Zen, S, T, fl, gui, 1975; Canto: 28 de septiembre, S, pf, 1975; 3 Songs from El Barrio, Bar, pf, 1977; Elegía a los inocentes caidos, SATB, orch, 1978; Mano de hierro, A, gui, 1987; A capella, 4vv, 1983; Madrigal, Ct, T, B, 1984; A Delicate Fire, A, gui, 1986; Romance, boy S/S, gui, 1988; Romance, chorus, 1988; Unknown Ports from the Full-Time Jungle, S, pf, 1992 Chbr. Str Qt no.1, 1976; Suite, Tercer mundo, fl, rec, 2 gui, perc, 1977; Música, 2 vc, fl, cl, 1978; Rumbo, vc, pf, 1984; Street Music, fl, trbn, 2 perc, 1980; kool Breeze, fl, bn, cl, 1982; Graffiti Nuyorican, perc, pf, 1983; Housing Project, sax qt, 1985; Bolero and Hip-Hop on Myrtle Avenue, ob, pf. 1986; Str Qt no.2, 1987; Caribe urbano, fl, ob, cl, hn, pf, 1990. A Sensitive Mambo in Transformation, elec. gui, synth, drumset, cl, db, 1991; Obra pública, wind qnt, 1992; Loaisai, b cl, mar, 1993; Trío concertante en tres realidades, vn, va, vc, 1995 Perc. Tamboleo, 1972; 124 E. 107th Street, 6 perc, tape, nar/actor, 1979; Bembé, 4 perc, 1981;Urbanización, 1985; Palm Tree with Spanish figurines, trmp, 1987; Rapeo, snare drum, 1988; Eco para un grito gris, mar, 1994 Pf. 4 piezas, 1974; Montuno, 1981; Del tingo al tango, 1984; Danza para Rhonda, 1986; Mulata fantasía, 1987; Bella Aleyda, 1989 Gui. 3 fragmentos, gui, 1973; Pavana, gui/pf, 1977; Dualidad, 2 gui, 1979; Síntesis, gui. tape, 1979; Toque, 4 gui, 1981; Abrazo, 4 gui, 1984 Tape Composición electrónica, 1978; 3 estudios, computer, 1979 Principal publishers: American Composers Editions, A. M.
Percussion, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. North/South, Quadrivium Music BIBLIOGRAPHY D. Thompson
‘Contemporary String Music From Puerto Rico’ American String Teacher, xxxvi/1 (1984). 37-41
‘La música contemporánea en Puerto Rico’, RMC, xxxviii (1984), 110-17
Coriún Aharonián
‘Die gewaltsme Schˆnheit des urbanen Lebens’. Musiktexte, no. 61 (1995), 33-4

City's Sonorus graffiti' inspires composer Ortiz

(San Juan Star, 19 de Junio de 1991).

Ortiz's 'E. 107th St. ' dominates concert by New Music Ensemble

(The Buffalo News, 14 de Noviembre de 1983).

Tránsito de la Orquesta Sinfónica

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