Juan Pablo Contreras has two passions that he cannot hide: wrestling and classical music. But is it possible that both interact?
For Juan Pablo that is not a problem.
This 35-year-old composer, born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, wrote Wrestling!a work that pays tribute to this popular sport and Mexican spectacle, in which two sides – the rude and the technical ones – face off in a fierce battle that wins the one who applies the most braces, the one who bleeds the least or the one who best protects his valuable mask.
For this piece, which will have its world premiere on December 11 at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jaime Martín, Juan Pablo prepared a kind of wrestling show. In it, six fighters inspired by legends such as El Santo and Blue Demon, will each face their own melody.
But there is nothing to fear. Actually, six of the main musicians of the orchestra will wear the masks of fictional fighters and will go out to “fight”, but their instruments will represent the characters.
First the theme of each fighter will be heard, to know them separately and to know how their melody sounds; and then all the melodies will be heard together. The play lasts a total of 12 minutes.
“The narrative is that they are presented one by one, and there is a narrator,” explained the composer. “First it’s one against one, then two against two and then three against three.”
Wrestling! it was commissioned by LACO and was originally going to have its premiere in March 2020; however the event was postponed due to the pandemic. During 2019 and 2020, Juan Pablo was the composer of LACO’s Sound Investment, a program that encourages the creation of new classical works. Juan Pablo is the first Latino and Mexican composer to be part of this program.
In addition to having dedicated himself to polishing this work, during the pandemic Juan Pablo recorded “Mariachitlán”, an album with which he pays tribute to his place of origin, Jalisco, where mariachi music was born. The piece, recorded with an orchestra of musicians from various parts of the world, but based in Guadalajara, narrates the composer’s experience in the Plaza de los Mariachis, in his hometown, a place where these groups sing on top of each other to win the attention of potential customers.
In addition to his work as a writer of works, Juan Pablo, who has a doctorate in composition from the University of Southern California, is a teacher of orchestration and music theory at the same university.
He is also on tour with MeChicanoa work commissioned by the New Music USA organization, under the Amplifying Voices program, which is performed by six orchestras around the United States.