Notes and Editorial Reviews
Barcelona native Leonardo Balada is credited with pioneering a blend of ethnic music and avant-garde techniques. The symphonic tragedy María Sabina, one of his best-known works, tells the extraordinary story of Sabina, a Mexican Indian mushroom-cult priestess who meets fierce resistance from her people when endeavoring to open the holy rituals to the outside world. Some of the text in Balada’s work is based on her incantations, of which the composer has written: “While composing the work, the power of the text was so extraordinary that I felt inspired by it. I recall composing the music even when I was travelling, in airports or hotels.”
The cantata Dionisio: In Memoriam is an homage to Dionisio Ridruejo, a poet and politician from Soria, Spain, on whose ideological, philosophical and descriptive writings the work is based.
Born in Barcelona on 22nd September 1933, Leonardo Balada graduated from the Conservatorio del Liceu there and in 1960 from The Juilliard School in New York. He studied composition with Vincent Persichetti and Aaron Copland and conducting with Igor Markevitch. Since 1970 he has taught at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, where he is University Professor of Composition. Some of his best-known works were written in a dramatic avant-garde style in the 1960s, including Guernica (Naxos 8557342), María Sabina, and Steel Symphony. Balada is credited with blending traditional cultural music and avant-garde compositional practices to create his personal, influential style.