Subhira, one of the most innovative bands from Chile bring their unique blend of World, Latin American and Contemporary Acoustic Music to Sound Symposium. The band is composed of electric cellist Juan Angel Moñoz, violinist Danka Villanueva, film maker and percussionist Emai Cepeda, and Subhira Rodrigo Cepeda on piano, keyboards, didgeridoo, and ethnic instruments.

Subhira graduated with a degree in Composition from the Modern School of Music in 1995 and with a post-graduate and a Master of the Arts/Composition degree from the Universidad de Chile. He has composed and produced fifteen albums of his own projects and more than forty for other artists (for TV, documentaries, and movies). He is frequently touring in Chile, Europe and abroad with his Quartet. He is a Professor of Composition in the Modern School of Music. He produces and conducts the ADN Radio show “Mundovivo, Music for a Better Living” and is the programmer and director of the World Music Festival of Las Condes in Santiago, Chile.

This interview has been edited for length and concision.

Annie Corrigan: It’s incredible to know that you’ll be coming to Newfoundland from Chile. What do you expect from your visit to Newfoundland?

Subhira: It’s even more incredible for us! Is kind of crossing the whole planet from pole to pole. Maybe that’s why there’s such an interesting connection between people from Chile and Canada? I feel it with my many Canadian friends living here in Chile and I felt it last year when I went to Montreal and met so many nice people.

AC: In addition to your own music, you write music for other artists, documentaries, movies, etc. How is the creative process different when you’re producing music for someone else?

Subhira: Well, it’s very different. I can find different approaches to composing and producing music in my professional life. One is my art music, which has already been very diverse throughout time. I’ve composed experimental, modal and tonal music, contemporary new music for different ensembles and formations, acoustic, electronic, popular, folk. But what is and has been my passion is trance and first nations connection to music.

On the other hand when I work for scoring is a total different story. There, music is a part of something else. A whole that is made of many parts and music helps them to blend and flow. There you work and put all you can into the final goal; what the director of the movie wants to get. What the script wants. What the dancers need to express, or the scene needs. You are part of a team and music is not everything.

AC: You will be performing in a traditional concert hall and then in a local pub. Will the venue influence your performance?

Subhira: I actually have two projects with my music so it fits perfect for both dates. One is the concert music which is some of the music I compose and can be very silent or very experimental and intense. On this repertoire we are playing now i selected mostly music inspired on Chilean first nations. Not traditional, but what this cultures that are part of my genes and history brings out from me as an artist. There are rhythms, modes, representations of visions.

And the other project I’ve been working on since 2002 (Transubhiriano) explores into trance. I use electronics here, and rhythms from Afro-Brasil, Arabic, urban and a lot from Chilean first nations, specially Mapuche and Aymara. In the club we hope people will have a good time dancing.

AC: Talk to us about the didgeridoo. I think your group will be the only one playing this instrument. When did you start playing it and why do you enjoy playing it?

Subhira: When I first started playing Didgeridoo in 1991, it was quite unknown in Chile and some other countries where i would go. I learned it from an Australian environmentalist who visited Chilean rainforest and I was totally blown away with it’s sound! It transported me. Went to different classes and workshops in different countries and played it for hours and hours for many years. It has everything to do with my search for trance. Is a totally trance instrument. I must say I’ve had mystic trips with this instrument. Is an incredible instrument.

Subhira Quartet At Sound Symposium XIX*

  • Concert — Sunday, July 8 at 8:30pm (D. F. Cook Recital Hall, MUN School of Music)
  • Night Music — Thursday, July 12 at 10:30pm (The Ship Pub)

See the complete list of SSXIX artists, as well as the full schedule and ticket information.

*Times and locations subject to change.