Category: Music

Introducing Hermanos Gutiérrez: A New Favorite for My Playlists

It’s always such a joy discovering new music! I’ve recently stumbled over Hermanos Gutiérrez, the stage name of two Ecuadorian-Swiss brothers, Alejandro Gutiérrez and Estevan Gutiérrez, who formed their Latin instrumental band in 2015 in Zürich.

They have released five albums so far; the first four of them were self-released. A new album, Sonido Cosmico, will be released on June 14th, 2024, and I’m looking forward to it.

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Year of Wonder

Setting sun

Yesterday I bought a book called Year of Wonder: Classical Music to Enjoy Day by Day by Clemency Burton-Hill. Burton-Hell, a violinist and BBC Radio personality introduces readers to one short inspirational piece of classical music from various genres and periods every day, from Hildegard von Bingen to Bach, Philip Glass, and Duke Ellington.

I’ve learned to appreciate and enjoy classical music all by myself by simply listening and looking up pieces I’ve heard of (radio, movies, books, people recommendations). My music education is, well, scarce. The book seemed so accessible that I thought I’d give it a try and widen my repertoire, for instance, discover other composers than my beloved Bach, Mozart, and Marcello (Alessandro, not Benedetto). And the reward came minutes after opening the book in the form of Hildegard von Bingen, the twelfth-century theologian, composer, healer, artist, and Saint. I recognized her name, vaguely, as some early Christian saint or something. I had no idea of her music works or anything else for that matter. Most of her works were written about 1140-1160 – almost one unfathomable thousand years ago. I had O vis eternitatis (O power within Eternity) on repeat all evening and again this morning during my meditation.

There’s so much wonder out there, I thought. Much to explore and enjoy. I’ve added the book to my evening routine to read about and listen to one piece every evening. I’ve also created a playlist and plan to add the pieces that resonated most with me to it. Hildegard is at the top, of course.

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The Diva Dance

The Diva Dance is an otherworldly song performed by an alien opera singer called Diva Plavalaguna in The Fifth Element, an iconic Science-Fiction movie and, incidentally, one of my favorite movies.

Plavalaguna’s song, written by Eric Serra, starts with Il dolce suono, an aria from the opera Lucia de Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti; then continues with the Diva Dance.

Eric Serra had written the song so that it wouldn’t be possible for a singer to hit some of the high notes so quickly after another. The original song was performed in the movie by the Albanian opera singer Inva Mula, and she had to sing those high notes individually; then they were arranged digitally.

Here’s the (digitally enhanced) original. Rumor has it that the wonder you see on Bruce Willis’ face when he listens to her is real. That was the first time he heard the song and seen the actress in full costume and makeup.

I remember seeing the movie and listening to the song for the first time. It still gives me goosebumps. The song and Mula’s performance are not of this world.

Bonus: Eric Serra talking about the scene.

Jane Zhang, a Chinese opera singer, took on the challenging song and hit all the notes without computer help. Listen to her amazing performance from 2015; it’ll give you goosebumps!

Bonus: Jane Zhang’s Italian fan site describing that 2015 evening (the text is in English).

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