“Stark, Haunting Elegance” (Audio)

James Diaz, a Ph.D. student studying composition in the Department of Music, discusses his award-winning work.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

By Blake Cole

James Diaz, Ph.D. student in the Department of Music

James Diaz, a Ph.D. student studying composition in the Department of Music, was recently profiled in the Washington Post article, “22 for ’22: Composers and Performers to Watch This Year.” The publication cites Diaz's creations as “works of stark, haunting elegance,” and says he “can construct a skeletal string quartet or conjure lush symphonic textures, but no matter the scale, his pieces bring the tone and texture of sound into sharp, intimate focus.”

Below, Diaz, who has won multiple international and national awards and whose music has been performed by more than a dozen orchestras and ensembles, reflects on a performance of his composition, “Azul.”

“I'd like to share my work, 'Azul' for orchestra and electronics. It is part of a long piece called RETRO, in which I also performed the synths and electronics,” says Diaz. “The work is a personal reflection on the 200th anniversary of Colombia’s independence. Throughout this 25-minute work, I reflect on the meaning of self-independency and Colombian identity by means of historical retrospection. The piece was commissioned by Medellin Philharmonic as part of my residency in 2019.”

View the performance of “Azul” by the Orquesta Filarmónica de Medellín below.

Below, you can also view a performance of Diaz's composition, “Enero, Not Snow,” being performed by Sö Percussion, a percussion-based music organization that creates and presents new collaborative works to adventurous and curious audiences.