Going “Places” with Jorge Mejia
Places was filmed by Alexander Iziliaev at the Adrienne Arsht Center of the Performing Arts and features an original composition by Mejia, who adapted the music especially for this alluring new work that features six Miami City Ballet dancers and is set to Mejia’s composition for piano and string quintet.
Q: Were you familiar with Claudia Schreier prior to this commission?
A: No, I wasn’t. Lourdes Lopez introduced us specifically to work together on this piece.
Q: What did you find most enjoyable about working on this collaboration with MCB and Claudia?
A: Everything about this commission has been enjoyable. Lourdes’ vision in creating this type of work, perfectly geared towards the times we are living in, is groundbreaking.
Claudia’s artistry and uniquely refined musical ear has been stimulating for me as a composer and, of course, as someone who hugely appreciates dance. In addition, and judging from his prior work, Alexander’s artistry in effecting the video is something that I can’t wait to see.
Q: Who are the musicians?
A: I am hugely grateful to the musicians who recorded with me. I am listing them here, as well as their affiliation to local Miami musical institutions, as I think this is one of the great successes of this piece, to have brought together so many institutions, if only tangentially:
Jorge Mejia – composer and piano: New World School of the Arts and University of Miami Frost School of Music (BM’95) alumnus;
Daniel Andai – Violin 1: Dean of Music at the New World School of the Arts and University of Miami Frost School of Music (DMA’11) alumnus;
Sheena Gutierrez – Violin 2: University of Miami Frost School of Music alumnus (MMA’18) and currently a Mancini Fellow and Teaching Assistant to Professor Charles Castleman while pursuing her doctorate (’21) at Frost;
Shea Kole – Cello: University of Miami Frost School of Music (DMA’19) alumnus;
Modesto Marcano – viola;
Antonio Escobedo – Bass: New World Symphony Fellow.
Q: My understanding is that this was the first time the musicians have performed together since the pandemic. Tell me what it was like for them.
A: We recorded at the Frost School of Music recording studios and it was magical as well as a bit surreal – some of us were separated from the group, sitting in isolated booths, and all of us were wearing masks.
Most importantly, however, we were making music together, in real time, for the first time in months. I firmly believe that some of the magic in this recording comes through as the musicians rediscovered what it meant to them to be playing together in a group once again.
Q: How has the health crisis impacted artists’ ability to work, and what silver linings, if any, have you found throughout this time?
A: Aside from the horrendous impact that this pandemic has had and continues to have on those whose lives have been upended by the loss of loved ones:
This has hugely impacted all musicians, all artists, all companies, all ensembles, and their income. The silver lining is, of course, the sense of wonder that comes when you do have an opportunity to once again play and perform together and also, the resilience that all musicians, artists, and institutions have had to discover within themselves to get through this time – teaching remotely, performing remotely, rehearsing remotely, connecting remotely, creating new types of works that can be appreciated remotely.
In fact, this digital work is a direct result of that resilience and truly, I can’t think of a better silver lining, for me personally, at least right now, than this work.
Q: The arts play a huge role in the fabric of Miami as a community, and you yourself have been an incredible source of this rich, culturally diverse tapestry.
How do you think Miami artists and its institutions will continue to thrive and connect with its communities during this crisis?
A: Miami is a fantastic city. It is a growing city, where we still have a chance to make a difference simply by showing up in a generous and determined way.
Organizations like the Miami City Ballet, the New World Symphony, the University of Miami, the New World School of the Arts, and the Adrienne Arsht Center, among many others, are a testament to our great city’s world-class cultural talent pool and a result of Miami’s investment in the arts.
I don’t think that this crisis will make a dent in that energy and enthusiasm – if anything it will make us thirsty for more. And in the meantime, if we are able to continue to work together in new and innovative ways, who knows what will come of our resilience and belief in the arts. Only great things, I can imagine.
Q: Any other parting words?
A: Thank you to Lourdes, Claudia, Sasha, all the musicians, and everyone who has worked on this commission, I am both proud and thrilled to have worked with you in this endeavor.
Jorge Mejia is a Colombian-born, Latin GRAMMY Award nominated composer and pianist, whose talents were developed in the heart of Miami at New World School of the Arts, and, following a stretch at the New England Conservatory of Music, at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. As President & CEO for Sony/ATV Music Publishing Latin America & US Latin, he has also been recognized as one of Billboard’s Latin Power Players for every year Billboard has held the distinction, including most recently, in 2020. As a composer, Mejia is known for his rigorous and eclectic work in classical music, with performances throughout Latin America and beyond.
Thank You For Your Support
We are incredibly grateful to all those that have supported our Dancer Support Fund during this time. As a non-profit organization, MCB employs over a hundred fiercely dedicated operational and artistic staff members, faculty and dancers to deliver the world-class performances, education and engagement programs that bring arts into the community.
As we look ahead to a changed world, we depend on the vital support and generosity of our audiences and donors. If you can help, please consider donating.
Donate on Give Miami Day, Thursday November 19.
This digital commission is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has been a generous supporter of Miami City Ballet with over $11 million in cumulative giving since the company’s founding.