CV (updated October 2019)

anima (2019)

for harp and percussion


"Voice is a particular sound made by something with a soul; for nothing which does not have a soul has a voice

Aristotle, De Anima (Book II)

anima highlights the anthropomorphic properties of both harp and percussion through an interplay between instruments and performer vocalization. For each non-linguistic utterance and articulation there exists an instrumental equivalent, and a continuum between voice and instrument is established at every point. Orchestrated as such, the piece dramatizes the instruments as entities with physical—organic—bodies, in a quest for some kind of “soul”.

The work is written and dedicated to friends Ben Melsky and Kyle Flens.

suggested affinities

concerto for piano, ensemble (13 musicians) and electronics

SCORE / mp3

suggested affinities is a concerto for piano, accompanied by 13 musicians and electronics. The gravitational center is the piano sound itself, which is ramified and given new plasticity through its interaction with the ensemble, electronics, and an obbligato trio of timbrally related instruments (harp, vibraphone, and digital keyboard). The narrative of the composition explores affinities and differences between the piano and its related family members, between the acoustic and digital domains, and finally, between mechanized and animate sound.

The electronic component features realistic sounding meta-instruments—instruments with an unusually expanded palette for articulation, microtonal inflection, tessitura, resonance, and noise elements. Through the use of hardware “prosthetics”—localized speakers, keyboards, and/or pedals—the solo pianist and obbligato trio trigger digital instrumental simulations (with its new vocabulary of estranged possibilities) that blend in real-time with their acoustic counterpart.

suggested affinities is the culmination of research carried out over a series of works using meta-instruments written between 2014-17. It combines previous instrumental expansions and further develops the project by interacting with nonlinguistic vocality. Murmurs, breaths, groans and other emulations, are also included in the orchestration and electronics in an attempt to fashion a piano with a physical—organic—body. Thus, as the machine-like properties of the piano amplify, so does its dream of becoming a biological being.

Instrumentation: Flute/Piccolo/Bass Flute, Oboe, Clarinet/Bass Clarinet, Horn in F, Trumpet in C, Trombone, Percussion (1 player), Harp, Solo Piano/Solo Synthesizer, Synthesizer 2, Violin, Viola, Cello, Contrabass.

Duration: 23 minutes

Premiere Performance: May 04, 2018; Logan Center for the Arts; Ensemble Dal Niente, Winston Choi–soloist, and Michael Lewanski– conductor. Chicago, IL

through thoughts of a different kind (2018)

for sixteen musicians


through thoughts of a different kind focuses on a single sighing melody that ispresented in the opening violin solo. This tune is ramified throughout via fragmentation and expansion, and is always presented in a different context—juxtaposed and/or superposed by music of disparate characters. The work reflects on and is inspired by the question:

...what does it mean when some tune follows you, occurs to you [...] in the middle of thoughts of a
quite different kind?

Theodor Reik, “The Haunting Melody” (1960).

Flute/Piccolo, Oboe, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Trumpet in C, Trombone, Percussion (2 players), Piano, Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello, Contrabass

Duration: 8'00''

Premiere Performance: July 28, 2018. Columbia, MO. Alarm Will Sound conducted by Alan Pierson.

speak through speaking (2017)

for saxophone, accordion and double bass


speak through speaking is a work inspired by Peter Handke's play, Kaspar, and specifically by its protagonist's recurring line: "I want to be someone, like someone else once was." The music roughly sonifies a recording of myself reading this sentence, and deals with sound in ways similar to how Handke's play uses words—always aiming at an analysis of reality through different kinds of repetition.

instrumentation: alto saxophone, accordion (bayan), and contrabass.

duration: 7 minutes .

premiere performance: Musiikin aika Festival (Time of Music Festival); Viitasaari, Finland; July 09 2017.

two two (2015-16)

for eight musicians

I. lullaby

II. cuckoo


two two, written for Ensemble Intercontemporain, presents two variations on two immutable fixed notes: a mid-register Bb descending to G. This "theme" does not undergo any manner of development, but rather, applies the principle of variation to the content surrounding them. Bb-G is repeated throughout the entire work, constantly finding itself in different contexts. The inspiration comes partially as a reaction to Morton Feldman’s “Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety” (in which two flutes persistently repeat a major-third), and also from two types of music where oscillating thirds are prominent: lullabies and cuckoo clocks.

instrumentation: flute (doubling piccolo and bass flute), oboe, re-tuned clarinet (doubling bass clarinet), percussion (1 player), piano, viola, cello, contrabass.

duration: ca. 8 minutes.

premiere performance: June 27, 2015, by the Ensemble Intercontemporain, conducted by Lucas Vis. Le Centquatre, Paris.

études (2015-17)

for piano and synthesizer

étude 1 – prelude

étude 2 – ripples on false reflections

étude 3 – doublings

étude 4 – signaux bloquées

étude 5 – notturno


études is a series works written for piano and keyboard, to be played by a single pianist.

These works aim to expand the vocabulary of the acoustic piano into an instrument that offers limitless micro/macrotonal intervals, broader tessitura, increased array of extended techniques, and new

properties of touch and pedalling.

The electronics functions as “prosthetics” to the piano, with flexible parameters capable of precise manipulations of tuning, register, timbre, etc. The real piano in this setup functions as a mask, with its natural acoustic properties used to compensate for the imperfection of digital piano sound. Through various compositional and orchestration techniques both entities blend as one—as a kind of “super-piano”. The work is interested in aesthetics of defamiliarization, always presenting novel pianistic possibilities within a familiar sonic framework.

The first five études were written for and dedicated to pianist Winston Choi.

ploy, pivot (2014)

for orchestra


ploy, pivot
is the first work in a series of pieces of mine that attempts to create a narratological structure using the superposition of music with  disparate characters. This is clear, for example, in the harp solo music, which is always constrasted and interrupted by abrasive, stubborn gestures. Other instances of interruption govern and organize most of the rhetoric in the music—either by cancelling or triggering different textures, layers and affects.
Beyond this technical description, however, the work was written as a humble homage to the lush penmanship of Toru Takemitsu—a composer whose presence is never far from my thoughts.

Instrumentation: 2 fl, 2 ob, 2 cl, 2 bsn, 2hn, 2 tpt, 2 perc, pno, hp, strings (66442 minimum).

Duration: 5'30'' minutes

Premiere performance: University of Chicago ad-hoc Orchestra, featuring members of CSO and Dal Niente.
Cliff Colnot, conductor.

© 2018 Igor Santos. All Rights Reserved.

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