Carnegie Hall Commission/NY Premiere
Edwin Outwater and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s will give the New York premiere of Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s The Dot and the Line (2011) for narrator and orchestra at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall on October 14, 2017. John Lithgow, 2017 Emmy Award-Winner, will narrate. Commissioned jointly by the Dallas Symphony and Carnegie Hall, the work is based on the classic children’s book of the same name by Norton Juster. Originally for narrator and chamber ensemble (2005), the orchestral version had its world premiere in Dallas in 2012 with Jamie Bernstein, Narrator. A recording by Bernstein and the Music from Copland House Players is in preparation.
Another upcoming NY premiere will be Rodriguez’s comic Menasherie for SSA chorus and piano, based on animal poems by Ogden Nash. The Young People’s Chorus of New York City commissioned the work, and Francisco Nuñez will conduct the premiere on the YPC’s Radio Radiance series in the fall of 2018. Nuñez and the YPC previously premiered Rodríguez’s As: A Surfeit of Similes (2014), for SATB chorus and piano on November 4, 2016. A recording of the concert is in preparation.
2017 also saw the world premiere of Above All, Women: Four Images of Gustave Klimt for String Quartet. The work was commissioned by The University of Texas at Dallas for performance by the Amernet Quartet. The Amernet subsequently recorded Above All, Women, along with Rodriguez’s first string quartet, Meta 4. The recording will be released on the Albany label along with Xochiquetzal, for violin and piano, performed by Chloé Trevor and Jeff Lankov.
Opera performances in the 16-17 season included two productions of Frida (Long Beach Opera and Cincinnati Opera). Critical acclaim:
“…Robert Xavier Rodríguez' brilliant score captures Frida with music as rich and haunting as her art.” Broadway World, Los Angeles
“…Rodríguez’s engaging score [has] a snappy capacity to channel all manner of American music theater traditions…For its year-end classical music honors of 1991, the New York Times hailed Frida as the “Best Opera/Music Theater.” By now, Frida has been staged internationally in 15 cities. Cincinnati Opera mounts another new production this week...It’s all there, neatly and concisely packaged, a whirlwind tour of Kahlo’s life. The musical bits fall in place easily...Catchy licks and hooks… like musical flickers… mysterious, miraculous, macabre, brilliantly colored splendor.” Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
“…Rodriguez’s musical score is as complex and richly layered as Frida’s personality. It is colored with folkloric Mexican music, jazz, sophisticated modernism, sensuous atmosphere and subtle musical quotations. It’s an inventive hybrid. With its Broadway-style songs, amplified singers, dialogue and monologues, this opera might be just as happy on the musical theater stage… It leaves an indelible imprint that lingers long afterward.” Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer
“…a Mexican Kurt Weill…with its mixture of popular material (both authentic folk songs and newly-composed material), Rodríguez’s own modernist style and the opera’s sense of high purpose… incorporates folk elements and materials into something entirely new and original.” Joe Law, Opera News
There were also 16-17 productions of Tango and Monkey See, Monkey Do (California State University at San Bernardino). Additionally, Tango had multiple performances at the Aston Magna Festival in Massachusetts. Other recent performances include the orchestral Fanfarria Son-Risa (San Antonio Symphony) and the Agnus Dei for Mozart’s Mass in C-Minor (School for Music and the Performing Arts in Mannheim, Germany). Chamber performances include Xochiquetzal for violin and percussion sextet (Adams State University; Chloé Trevor, Violin); Tango Amor and Three Lullabies (UT Dallas plus tours in Japan and China; Enric Madriguera, guitar) and Música, por un tiempo (SOLI Ensemble on the Chamber Music America Showcase in New York).
Performances in the 15-16 season included the New York premiere of a new version of Rodríguez’s Xochiquetzal for violin and piano on Victoria Bond’s Cutting Edge series at Symphony Space. The University of Texas at Dallas commissioned the work in 2015 for a world premiere on February 19, 2016 by Chloé Trevor, violin and Jeff Lankov, piano, who also performed in New York. The original version of Xochiquetzal (2011), for violin and percussion sextet, was commissioned by the New England Conservatory, SUNY Onondaga, UNT and SMU. The premiere was in Boston in 2014, followed by performances in Syracuse, Dallas and Denton. A recording of Xochiquetzal performed by the NEC Percussion Ensemble, Frank Epstein, director, with Nicholas Kitchen, violin is in preparation. Watch a video of the violin/piano version.
Rodríguez’s most recent recordings include Tango Amor and Three Lullabies by Enric Madriguera, guitar, and Música, por un tiempo, commissioned and performed by the San Antonio-based SOLI Ensemble and a CD of RXR solo piano music by pianist Jeff Lankov after his all-Rodríguez piano recital at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall. The CD contains Caprichos, Estampie, Semi-Suite, Fantasia Lussuriosa, Hot Buttered Rumba and Seven Deadly Sequences. There is also a new CD of De Rerum Natura, conducted by the composer and commissioned by The University of Texas at Dallas for the inauguration of the university’s Edith O’Donnell Arts & Technology Building. All four recordings are on the Albany label.
Earlier recordings of Rodríguez’s music include an all-Rodríguez CD on the First Edition label, in conjunction with the Meet the Composer/Exxon Orchestra Residency Program, in which Rodríguez served as Composer-in-Residence with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The CD features Oktoechos (Dallas Symphony, conducted by Eduardo Mata), Favola Boccaccesca (Louisville Symphony, conducted by Lawrence Leighton Smith) and The Song of Songs (Voices of Change, conducted by the composer). The CD is part of a three-disc release featuring works of Rodríguez, Joan Tower and Christopher Rouse. Two earlier Albany releases feature Flight, the Story of Wilbur and Orville Wright, text by Sukey Smith, for narrator and orchestra, with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Neal Gittleman and actress Allison Janney (The West Wing) narrator and Tango, with Paul Sperry, tenor, and members of the San Diego Symphony, conducted by the composer.
Rodríguez’s music has been performed by conductors such as Sir Neville Marriner, Antal Dorati, Eduardo Mata, Andrew Litton, James DePriest, Sir Raymond Leppard, Keith Lockhart and Leonard Slatkin and such organizations as the New York City Opera, the National Opera of Mexico, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Boston Repertory Theater, American Music Theater Festival (now Prince Theater), Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Pennsylvania Opera Theater, Michigan Opera Theatre, Orlando Opera, The Aspen Music Festival, The Juilliard Focus Series, The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mexico City Philharmonic, Toronto Radio Orchestra, The Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Knoxville, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Boston and Chicago Symphonies, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra. Rodríguez’s chamber works have been performed in London, Paris, Dijon, Monte Carlo, Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, The Hague and other musical centers.
His music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer, and twenty CDs of his work have been recorded on the Newport, Crystal, Orion, Gasparo, Urtext, Pro Arte Musicae, ACA, CRI (Grammy nomination), Albany, First Edition and Naxos labels. Rodríguez has served as Composer-in-Residence of the Dallas Symphony and, most recently, the San Antonio Symphony. He resides in Dallas, where he currently holds an endowed Chair of Art & Aesthetic Studies and is Director of the Musica Nova ensemble at The University of Texas at Dallas. He is also active as a guest lecturer and conductor.