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The Empty Hours

"The Empty Hours"" - an opera/monodrama for soprano, actress, chorus, piano and strings orchestra- is a work about a lonely woman, addicted to the internet, who lives in her own fantasy world. "The Empty Hours" is an attempt to explore a psychological process, so common in our contemporary world: the loneliness and the increasing feeling of emptiness of the developed Western societies. The compositional techniques in the score have already ample abstractions symbolizing the fragmentation of society, the isolation, the loss of identity that accompanies technology and the dark side of modernity. "The Empty Hours" arose from Ricardo Llorca's growing interest in juxtaposing and combining traditional techniques with elements of contemporary music. Italian and Spanish Renaissance music and 17th Century operatic recitatives blended with a more contemporary language have served as the principal source of thematic and structural inspiration for this work. Building upon these ideas Llorca has created recognizable melodic cells and poly rhythmic combinations within a stable structure and bitonal harmonies over a traditional foundation. The score is complex, as one would expect in a contemporary opera, but not indecipherable. Similarly, the timbre possibilities of the soprano have been thoroughly exploited, in some cases supported by the orchestration and in others opposed by it, but always within the limits of conventional writing for each instrument. '"The Empty Hours" thus acquires a dual character, at once traditional and contemporary, maintaining a coherent narrative which is elaborated over a harmonic and melodic foundation that may be called non-atonal. According to Llorca: "In order to shed light on the ideas behind this opera and my motivations for composing it, it may help to mention certain factors and subjective phenomena which I believe define the work. In my opinion, there is a great deal of confusion today about the objectives of contemporary music and the elements it has at its disposal. In the absence of a single unifying tendency or a specific defining style, young composers have been forced to choose between continuing along the path of experimentation or returning to a classical framework. Some of us have felt unable to continue conforming to the aesthetic models that have dominated classical music in recent decades. Looking back is perhaps the only viable alternative: reexamining the past, working with classical (horizontal and vertical) structures and concepts, and rehabilitating traditional views of musical expressiveness. When I began writing this opera, I wanted to create a dual work in the sense that it would be a both a product of instinct and a result of formal reflections on structure and development. I have chosen to give the opera a classical formal character, with defined structure and development, as well as cadenzas. I have also made use of traditional techniques such as counterpoint, fugues, and functional-harmonic development. Above all, I have taken care to avoid the impression of randomness, ensuring that the sounds conform to a plan and follow an organization that reflects their inherent relationships and correspondences. Without this previous organization, the music would lack all expressive power and would amount to little more than haphazard forms in space. In short, I have attempted to create a solid musical structure that governs the piece from beginning to end." "The Empty Hours" was premiered at the "XII Setmana de Musica Sacra de Benidorm," and later performed at the Berlin Cathedral on September 7th 2007; at the Dag Hammarskjold Theater at the United Nations in New York City on November 17th 2008; and at Alice Tully Hall (Lincoln Center, New York City) on November 19th 2010. A CD recording of "Las Horas Vacias/The Empty Hours" has been released by Columna Musica on September 2011.
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About the Author

Ricardo Llorca is one of the most promising talents to emerge from the new generation of contemporary Spanish-American composers. Llorca was born in 1962 in Alicante, a city located in the southeastern coastal region of Spain that has been the birthplace of many great musicians -Oscar Espla, Ruperto Chapi, Jose Iturbi, Lopez Chavarri, Martin y Soler, Joaquin Rodrigo, Tarrega, etc. He later moved to Madrid, where he studied at that city's Royal Conservatory under Roman Alis and attended the most theoretically advanced courses at the Festival de Granada with Luigi Nono, Carmelo Bernaola, and Luis de Pablo. After graduating in 1988, Llorca traveled to New York in order to continue his studies at the Juilliard School, where he has worked with composers David Diamond and John Corigliano. Upon completing his studies, Llorca assumed a faculty position at Juilliard, and continues to teach there today. Llorca combines his teaching responsibilities at Juilliard with his work as a composer, which has garnered him the Richard Rogers Scholarship (1992), the Virgen de la Almudena Award (1999), and the John Simon Guggenheim Award (2001). Ricardo Llorca is the composer-in-residence for The New York Opera Society and the New York-based dance company "Sensedance." Llorca is currently teaching at The Juillliard School and at The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York City. Llorca is a grant recipient of "The Argosy Foundation" and "Met-Life/Meet the Composer 2008."

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