The piece that took 4 generations

The Untold Story

There is no way to talk about this my new work Promesa without talking about my great-grandfather, Luis Rice. Almost half a century ago, he composed a song entitled Valz Esther to profess his undying love for his wife, Esther. Now, his love was actually controversial at the time. He had asked for Esther’s hand in marriage a total of three times. The third time he was met with a shotgun to chase him away. Nonetheless, he persisted eventually eloping secretly with his beloved.

Every generation since has known the infamous Valz Esther. Luis passed the song down to his son Humberto, and Humberto passed it to his daughter Rebeca, my mother, who passed it down to me. I learned it as a young pianist, and I fell I love.

A recording of Valz Esther with soprano Olivia Gorra and pianist Jim Demster
This recording was a gift to my grandfather after he was named alumni of the year from el instituto tecnologico de monterrey

Making Promesa

With the first draft I gave my composition teacher, he stopped, looked at me and said

“You don’t know what you’re doing do you?”

my composition teacher

and truth be told I really didn’t. I wanted to make a piece that incorporated my great-grandfather’s work, but I didn’t want to just reiterate what he had already done in an arrangement. I needed to make it my own. Great artists steal right? In any case, after about 4 more drafts I think I brought the piece to a palatable place for my composition teacher and I’m so excited to share it with you. It’s a passionate piece and working on it has connected me to my family in more ways than one.

This piece is fully mine and yet, it’s fully my family’s as well. First and foremost, this piece is about unconditional, undying love that promises your beloved the world. My work explores floating spaces and open instrumentation which accumulates to a climax of voices moving and working together with musical material taken from my great grandfather. For me, this piece is the preservation of music composed almost half a century ago, an homage to my great grandfather and my grandfather, and is an immense reminder that true love is possible. This piece is dedicated to my grandfather Humberto Rice who passed away from Covid earlier this year. Te quiero abuelito.

Quiéreme, quiéreme mucho mi bien que el destino al fin sellará esta unión

Luis Rice

Love me, love me my love so at last destiny will seal this union

Watch the World Premiere with the Juventas New Music Ensemble below!

How I composed Promesa