UC Riverside Composition Professor Gives Guest Lectures Abroad

Paulo C. Chagas will give lectures in Moscow and Czech Republic

Paulo Chagas

Paulo Chagas

Paulo C. Chagas, professor of composition at UCR, has been a guest lecturer at the Moscow Conservatory in Moscow, Russia since Nov. 9. He was to present two lectures and premiere a new commissioned composition titled “Mirror of Madness” before he leaves on Nov. 19.

His two lectures will be given at the Electroacoustic Music Studio in the Moscow Conservatory. The talks will focus on audiovisual and multimedia composition, and on the integration of new sound and image technologies that can be processed into acoustic chamber music.

Chagas’ new composition “Mirror of Madness” premiered on Nov. 13 at the International Music Festival Moscow Autumn. The work was commissioned by the Festival Moscow Autumn and will be performed by an ensemble of distinguished Russian musicians belonging to the prestigious Moscow Conservatory, he explained.

“‘Mirror of Madness’ explores the fragile boundaries between madness and sanity and the patterns of madness in the modern world,” said Chagas. “Madness begins with some kind of confusion between the experience of reality and the experience of the perceiver of reality. It is a conflict with the two. Further, we begin to feel that we are out of control and we become ultimately mad. We experience extreme states of mind and emotions as peaks of aggression, hatred, passion, joy, pleasure, or insight.”

In other words, Chagas explained, the composition explores patterns of madness in different realms of experience as a way to understanding the uncertainty between the fear of freaking out and the possibility of learning something or getting somewhere. The electronic music and the visual projection focus on the concept of simulacrum, the power of digital sounds and images to simulate the real and blackmail the truth, which contributes to the confusion that marks the contemporary world he said.

Chagas was recently a guest lecturer at the Palacký University, in Olomouc, Czech Republic. He gave three lectures there, and also premiered his new composition “Gravity and Grace: Mobile II.” The piece is part of a cycle of three pieces commissioned by the International Festival Villa-Lobos of Chamber Music 2015. The two driving forces of the composition are the book Gravity and Grace by French mystical philosopher Simone Weil (1909–1943) and the mobiles by the American sculptor Alexander Calder (1891–1976). The work is also partially based on Chagas’ own experience of torture by the Brazilian dictatorship.

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