Concerto for Flute and Guitar (2009)
I. Albada--Los enamorados

II. Sevdah (belo platno, jasmina)
III. Of Loss and Love

Instrumentation: flute, guitar, - - strings

[also available in versions for soloists with string orchestra, soloists with string quartet, and soloists with piano reduction]

Duration: ca. 30'

Commissioned by the Cavatina Duo

First Performance: The Cavatina Duo with Camerata Serbica, conducted by Bojan Sudic 9th February 2010, Guitar Art Festival, Belgrade, Serbia.

Additional Performances:
Cavatina Duo with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra (Michigan, USA)

Cavatina Duo with the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra (Bosnia)
Cavatina Duo with the Orchestra of the School of Music of Monterrey (Mexico)
Cavatina Duo with the Chicago Symphony Strings
Cavatina Duo with the La Catrina String Quartet (India)
Evangelina Reyes and Jose Francisco Gomez with the Cusco Symphony Orchestra (Peru)
Yadira Sanchez Guevarra and Jose Francisco Gomez with the Orquesta de Camara Escuela de Bellas Artes UABJO(Mexico)
Cem Onerturk and Ceren Baran with the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra (Turkey)
Duo Tapas with the Davenport Chamber Orchestra (New Zealand)
Natalia Belokolenko-Kargina and Arkadiy Reznik with the Moscow Camerata Chamber Orchestra (Russia)

Score and parts: please email


Programme Note

My Concerto for Flute and Guitar was commissioned by the Cavatina Duo (my longtime friends Eugenia Moliner and Denis Azabagic). I was delighted to have the opportunity to write for them, both as a great admirer of their artistry but also in gratitude for the support and encouragement they have given me and my music over the years.

In thinking about what I wanted to write, I kept returning to the cultural blend that the duo embody. Denis is Bosnian, Eugenia Spanish (and indeed they have now crossed continents to live in America). I wanted to write a piece that would reflect these different influences musically as well as the general idea of interconnected-ness, musical and otherwise. This was made easier by the fact that Spain and the Balkans share a common musical background. Both cultures were heavily influenced by North African/Arabic musical imports and invaders, which can be heard in their use of modal scales and rhythms based on different combinations of two and three pulse groupings.

The work draws on folk music from the two cultures, with each movement essentially employing one folk song from Spain and one from the former Yugoslavia as sources of musical material--melodic, harmonic and rhythmic--to be transformed in the course of the piece. I then attempted to bring these elements and newly composed material into a harmonious union.

Rather than randomly choosing folk melodies however, I sought to create an extra layer of meaning in the work by using the folk songs according to their lyrical content. The work's three movements form a programmatic arc, telling a kind of "life story" from youth to old age. The first movement, Albada--Los enamorados, draws upon two songs about youth, innocence and first love: "Ajde Jano" from Serbia and the Valencian "Albada" (Dawn Song). These are both courting songs, sung by one young lover to another, which beautifully capture the ardent emotional idealism of youth.

The second movement, Sevdah (belo platno, jasmina) represents middle age in the work's trajectory, and combines the Flamenco "Seguiriyas" with the beautiful Bosnian song "Emina" (as well as melodic shadows of a great Macedonian song about another unattainable woman, "Jovano, Jovanke"). The eponymous subjects of these songs represent the yearning for the forever out of reach, evoking the feeling of longing and unfulfilled desire which epitomises both the Bosnian musical style called Sevdah as well as the flamenco Cante Jondo.

The main theme of the final movement (Of Loss and Love) is an invented melody which combines elements of several Balkan and Spanish folk tunes in a kind of homage to Spanish medieval music. This alternates in rondo fashion with a Spanish melody collected by Manuel de Falla which speaks of lost love, leading eventually to a kind of flashback as the first movement's "Ajde Jano" melody is reprised by a solo cello, recalling the theme of youth and first love. At this point the music disintegrates into a version of the great Macedonian song "Zajdi, zajdi", the poignant lyric of which evokes old age looking back at vanished youth. In the end, though, the work's programmatic journey is completed as these nostalgic sentiments are transcended by the power of memory and a kind of joyful acceptance.

The musical language of the concerto is broadly Romantic, owing a debt to Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Rodrigo. Above all, I wanted to do justice to the beauty of the source melodies by casting them in a meaningful symphonic structure. I hope the piece will be a fitting tribute to two great musical cultures as well as to the great virtuosity and musicianship of my friends Denis and Eugenia; a joy to play as well as a joy to hear.