The World Premiere of Nicolas Benavides’ Canto Caló, a song cycle that takes inspiration from the New Mexican heritage shared by Martinez Becker and Benavides through the lens of their grandparents’ life experiences.
Melinda Martinez Becker, mezzo-soprano; Anne Rainwater, piano
with special guest Natalie Raney, cello
Nicolas Benavides Canto Caló World Premiere
Plus selections by Gabriela Lena Frank, Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla, Tania León, and Johannes Brahms
New Moon Duo – mezzo soprano Melinda Martinez Becker and pianist Anne Rainwater – is a San Francisco-based contemporary chamber arts ensemble. Concentrating on works written in the 20th century or later, Melinda and Anne explore unique pieces that challenge the status quo and push the boundaries of compositional styles. New Moon Duo aims to communicate musically to diverse audiences through a wide variety of languages and cultural narratives that express compelling and often untold stories. They have collaborated with and commissioned pieces from composers with distinct musical voices shaped by heritage and identity.
New Moon Duo presents Canto Caló: a world premiere commission by Nicolas Benavides and selections by local composer Gabriela Lena Frank and Spanish composer Enrique Granados. Alongside guest cellist Natalie Raney, they will also perform works by Manuel de Falla, Tania León, and Johannes Brahms. Each of the pieces contains themes of identity, love, loss, and distress.
Canto Caló is a collaboration between Benavides and New Moon Duo that began taking shape in 2018. The song cycle takes inspiration from the New Mexican heritage shared by Martinez Becker and Benavides through the lens of their grandparents’ life experiences. “Canto Caló celebrates the distinctively American dialect that was popular among Southwestern and Californian individuals that were part of the Pachuco movement,” says Benavides. “Caló is largely a Spanglish-style slang based on a specifically New Mexican dialect of Spanish, English, and indigenous languages that formed the basis of identity for an entire generation of Hispanic and Latino youth in the mid-20th century. Through the creation of Canto Caló, and the telling of stories about what life was like in that time, we will be able to transport audiences to a popular, yet not mainstream, culture that still pulses through the American West today where its influence is very present.”
New Moon Duo is a 2019 recipient of the InterMusic SF Musical Grant with Nicolas Benavides, and in October of 2019, they were in residence at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute in Boscawen, NH to collaborate on this new cycle.