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Since I came to bard and I saw the American Symphony playing at the Fisher Center, it was clear to me that at some point I wanted to compose a piece for them. The opportunity came for me to write an orchestra piece that will serve as my senior project, and will also fill up my ambition – to work with the American Symphony. The challenge started last semester, when I first tried to develop the ideas for the piece. At that time, it was unclear to me what the piece wanted, what was I going to say or what I wanted to say through music.
Last year I had an incredible opportunity to perform my cantata Amazónica, with the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela in Caracas. The concert was a big success in my country and such opportunity left me thinking, “what can I possible write that will be better”. Without realizing, a fear of not being able to match with a new piece what I had achieved started to grow and stopped me from writing more music.
After months of agony, I came to understand that Amazónica was a success because I had something to say. Amazónica explores the relationship between man and nature through the intrigue voice and concerns of an Indian. This innocent and noble figure awakens in doubt at the silence that seems to save mother earth with an enormous need for harmony, peace, justice, which paradoxically makes compliance with the other, difficult, ambiguous, enigmatic, challenging, contradictory, rebellious, definitely frustrating this desire for harmony. With Amazónica I wanted to transmit my opinion and feelings towards nature and our relationship.
My last semester at Bard has been a controversial experience for me. Having to take difficult decisions for my future once I graduated, have made me feel vulnerable and to some extent, insecure. Having won the Watson fellowship put a lot of pressure into my decisions, and it changed my plans for graduate schools. Once I accepted the award, a wild variety of emotions started to dominate my mind. I could be extremely exciting in the morning, and yet in the night being frighten and nostalgic. At the same time, senior project was in the back of my mind, graduation was approaching, and many other things that made my soul unstable.
Soon I understood my situation and decided to drain my emotions into a new symphonic work. Perhaps such piece would help me to get through tough moments. Mania was the result of my experiences during such times.
Mania is an energetic work that explores different atmospheres using the orchestra to describe the human mind. Being close to collapse, the word “mania” had a lot of meaning to explore. At that point it was clear that I would compose a piece about the mixed feelings of the fact that life at Bard was coming to an end.
Mania has different faces. It is a rhythmic, fast, loud, and syncopated piece, but at the same time, it is melodic, lyrical and soft. It alternates dramatically between ideas, colors, and textures. Such changes marked by periods of great excitement, euphoria, delusions, and over activity, finally confronting my spiritual state. There is a constant melody that keeps coming back in different ways: an obsession, a desire. Mania ends a chapter in my life and opens the door to new ideas and experiences. This piece is dedicated to all the people at Bard, faculty and students, who helped me and who became part of my life. With especial thanks to the only person that can make me deeply suffer and laugh. Stefany Sarmiento.
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Sanchez, Jose Augustin, "Mania" (2013). Senior Projects Spring 2013. 102.
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