The album, which was recorded in Havana in November 2015, serves as an example of the restoration of diplomatic connections between the United States and Cuba.
About the composition
Murray’s composition is called “After the Fall,” which commemorates the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. The Missouri State Chorale premiered the music at the MSU “Service of Remembrance” on Sept. 11, 2002.
“Although the piece was created as a response to this specific event and its aftermath, its expression of the universal themes of loss and hope can be understood in a wider context,” Murray said.
Former Missouri State theatre and dance faculty member Jodi Kanter wrote the poems in the composition.
A renewed partnership in Latin America
Murray traveled to Cuba and was present for the recording sessions, a landmark event as restrictions on United States citizens traveling to Cuba – in place since 1960 – were eased less than a year before the album was produced.
Ansonica recorded “After the Fall” at Abdala Studios, a state-of-the-art recording studio in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana. The choir heard on the recording is called Schola Cantorum Coralina, a professional choir based in Havana.
The choir rostered musicians of the highest caliber, Murray said.
“The choir and its conductor, Alina Orraca, are perfectionists,” he said. “We spent almost five hours in the studio recording a six-minute composition. They didn’t seem to have any concerns about going over the scheduled session length and didn’t ask for any additional pay for their time. That would never happen in the U.S.”
Murray said he didn’t know what to expect when he traveled to Havana, but found that the positive experience he had recording his composition with the choir extended far beyond.
“The people are friendly and the culture is vibrant,” Murray said. “Music, art and delicious food are everywhere. The Cubans I met were so welcoming and seemed genuinely overjoyed to have Americans visiting. I formed some friendships that I am sure will continue.”
Orraca and the choir performed Murray’s piece in concert at the 28th annual Havana Festival of Contemporary Music, held at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Old Havana.
“They had a large audience that was very appreciative and gave me a warm welcome,” Murray said. “Having a visiting American composer in attendance was a novel experience for them, and they treated me like a rock star.”
For more information, contact Murray at (417) 836-4250.