Alfredo Alejandro Cabrera
CWPS 2020 Cohort
MM Composition '21
Q: Tell us about a recent project completed during your graduate program in Composition.
I wrote a piece called “Overcast Moonlight'' and built it on improvisations I’ve done over the years. During the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself continuously improvising over “Tonada de Luna Llena'' by Venezulan composer Simón Díaz. I was glad I had the opportunity to include those works, as well as a poem I had written last year, in my piece. While writing, I often thought about our circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic; I wanted to explore the fact that we could not be physically intimate with one another. In the end, I interpret Overcast and Moonlight as metaphors for the earth and the moon- almost as lovers, and clouds as a barrier, but also nothing all at once.
Q: What will your CWPS research be focused on?
My research is about María Lionza, a Venezuelan mythological figure. At times she is regarded as an Indigenous woman with pale skin and light green eyes, whose character is heavily influenced by West African and Afro Caribbean practices with a sprinkle of colonialism and Catholicism. She is a figure that unites the many backgrounds that comprise the Venezuelan identity. Even though she unites these backgrounds, she is quite controversial in Venezuela. Because of the political situation over the last 20-25 years in Venezuela, her image has been heavily politicized because of its association with Palo and Santeria, which were brought to Venezuela through Cuba.For my CWPS research, I plan to travel to Venezuela in the summer of 2022 and learn more about her image and its influence on Venezuelan culture. I want to uncover the prejudices and assumptions of María Lionza that bar you from seeing what she really is- a healer and protector of nature.
I have had an idea to write an opera with the central character being a healing image to tell a story about what’s been recently happening in Venezuela. In thinking about healers, I kept coming back to her [María Lionza]. My final objective for this research is to synthesize the experiences I will have in the field to inform the writing of the libretto and music for this opera.
Q: What advice do you have for future CWPS graduate students?
Do not be cautious! While you’re on this journey, learn to be comfortable knowing that you’re going to be uncomfortable at times in order to complete your work. You’re surrounded by incredible scholars and mentors who will want to help you. Take the support around you and do what makes you uncomfortable.
Alfredo Alejandro Cabrera