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Multicultural Characteristic of the American Identity in Classical Music

Versión en Español: Click Aquí

Starting from the point of America as a term that refers to the entire continent, from Argentina to Greenland, this term embraces multiple countries, traditions, and cultures around the region. Also, the continent in itself, because of the numerous immigration waves, is a multicultural region with European, African, and even Asian influences nowadays. Furthermore, talking about the USA, it follows the same pattern with a varied population with multiple backgrounds. All of this multiculturalism is translated into classical music in two main aspects.

The first one is the music composed or produced in America and its countries. Music characterized by a large number of styles with a remarkable influence of the multiple cultures that converge in America. In our continent, we can find composers that write from the most neo-classic to Avant-Gard styles. Some composers create music using the post-romantic styles while others use the advances of technology, post-tonalism, and microtonalism. We can also find composers that have a close relationship with the traditional music of our continent and others that use pop-styles influences. In synthesis, this multiculturalism produces multiple kinds of music that can be considered the American sound.

The second aspect is the performance practices where, again, a powerful blend of worldwide traditions is the signature. It provides interpretation perspectives that embrace the energetic Latino associated traditions to the Germanic, Russian or French approaches, and new ways of concert settings and approaches to concert experiences. All of that because of the different manners of how we as Americans approach the music in daily life and how our conservatories and music organizations in our continent view the music. It creates a new type of performance approach that allows our musicians to perform not only our American music but also develop new viewpoints to the standard European and worldwide music repertoire. A vision that is always more and more appreciated worldwide as we can see different American musicians with successful international careers in performance. All of that because, in the end, the whole world is living in our blood.

This multiculturalism approach is the work that we do with The Americas Chamber Orchestra. An orchestra that is working to become an ambassador of the Chamber Orchestra practice in our continent. In it, our awareness of multiculturalism is present in the two main aspects described previously. From the music production or composition side, our orchestra has a call for scores and a composer in residence. It creates a close relationship with our community, helping them to broadcasts their own voice and their own kinds of music. And from the performance perspective, our seasonal repertoire proposal embraces the American art music from Argentina to Greenland and the standard European repertoire from our unique perspective as Americans.

In conclusion, my approach to American Identity in classical music is multicultural. An identity where multiple countries and cultures converge. An identity where the whole world can be heard.


Daniel Mallampalli: Coordinator of Artistic Planning and Humanities for the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Don Freund: Professor of Composition at the JSoM Indiana University

Steven Banks: Assistant Professor of Saxophone at Ithaca College

Carmen-Helena Téllez: Professor of conducting at the University of Notre Dame. Ex-Director of the Latin American Music Center of Indiana University

Diego Barbosa-Vásquez: Music Director of The Americas Chamber Orchestra (Bloomington, IN) and the Opera Summer Camp - CASC (Los Angeles California-USA)


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