Ñamkonün (En la profundidad de las aguas) : concertante for chamber orchestra
by Andrián Pertout (2011)
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'Ñamkonün (En la profundidad de las aguas)' was commissioned by the Cristóbal Urrutia and Orquesta de Cámara de Valdivia (Valdivia, Chile), and is dedicated to anthropologist Jaime Hernández Ojeda (Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile). The work celebrates Mapuche culture, with the Mapudungun linguistic expression of Ñamkonün representing the idea of "perderse en la profundidad de las aguas" or "to get lost in the depth of the waters," which has been utilized conceptually in direct reference to the attempts of the first European settlers to subjugate the indigenous peoples in the New World, and specifically highlighting the resilience of the Mapuche (the indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and south-western Argentina) who resisted domination for over 300 years. Ñamkonün further serves as an exploration of the musical implications of symmetry with regards to the rotational and reflection symmetries of a series of geometrical shapes that include an equilateral triangle, square, regular pentagon and regular hexagon, while also taking account of the seven frieze types.
Symmetry plays a direct part in the development of a four-bar (three-note) Mapuche melody sourced from La música Mapuche-Williche de lago Maihue, or The Mapuche-Williche Music of the Maihue Lake - a book by Jaime Hernández Ojeda (Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile). The melody is utilized exclusively throughout the work, with every single musical event in the composition explainable as a symmetrical relationship of the original exposition. The history of this melody may be traced back to the writings of French military engineer, mathematician, spy and explorer Amédée François Frézier (1682-1773), and in particular to his account of his travels in South America documented in his 1714 publication of Relation du voyage de la mer du Sud, aux côtes du Chili, du Pérou et de Brésil, fait pendant les années 1712, 1713 et 1714. In typical fashion characteristic of the times, Frézier paints a dismal picture of the Mapuche people and the artistic value of their culture, making statements such as: "they make themselves as drunk as beasts, singing without intermission, and all of them together; but in so inartificial a tone, that three notes would suffice to express the whole." Although the terrible injustices of history cannot be rectified, Ñamkonün nevertheless makes an attempt to rekindle the spirit of that moment in the hope of achieving some form of absolution.
Instrumentation: Flute, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 French horns, strings.
Duration: 17 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Professional
Dedication note: Dedicated to Jaime Hernández Ojeda (Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile)
Commission note: Commissioned by the Orquesta de Cámara de Valdivia (Valdivia, Chile)
The composer notes the following influences, styles, genres, etc associated with this work:
Mapuche culture, Jaime Hernández Ojeda’s La música Mapuche-Williche de lago Maihue, symmetry with regards to the rotational and reflection symmetries of a series of geometrical shapes
Performances of this work
17 Nov 12: Teatro Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile. Featuring Benjamin Shwartz.
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