Sidney Marquez Boquiren
“Unheard Voices” (Hindi Naririnig na mga Tinig) was composed in 2018 for the 32 Bright Clouds project and received its World Premiere on January 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. It is connected to Beethoven’s Sonata no. 7 in D Major, Op.10 No. 3.
Unheard Voices is dedicated to the victims of vigilante violence and extra-judicial killings that are happening in the Philippines, victims whose voices have indeed been tragically unheard.
Sidney Marquez Boquiren grew up in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia but has spent most of his adult life in the United States. He has collaborated with artists on various projects including Biblical illumination (folia lignifor Spark and Echo Arts); multi-media and multi-sensory art experience (The Gretel Project with Lauren K. Alleyne, Catherine Chung, and Tomiko Jones); and chamber opera (Independence Eve with Daniel Neer). He has received commissions from violinist Sarah Plum; American Modern Ensemble; NOISE; and The Parhelion Trio. He has also written commissioned works for ensemble amarcord (Germany); Voces Nordicae (Sweden); and The Voices of Davao (Philippines). Most recently, The Book of Mourning, Quarto II: Tala, a new work for two pianos and two percussion commissioned by nief-norf, was premiered during their Summer Festival. He is one of 32 artists in the international roster invited to compose new solo piano works for Yael Weiss’s “32 Bright Clouds” inspired by the piano sonatas of Beethoven and responding to the socio-political climate in the U.S. and around the world. His compositions are often informed and influenced by his Catholic faith and Philippine identity, and offer a personal response to social injustices.
A MacDowell Fellow, Sidney is an Associate Professor in the Department of Music at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. He sings with the Ignatian Schola as well as the choir of The Church of St. Francis Xavier in Manhattan, New York.
When Yael Weiss commissioned me to write a work in response to one of the Beethoven sonatas as part of her commissioning project of “32 Bright Clouds,” I knew immediately which specific sonata I would choose: Op. 10, No. 3. As an undergraduate, this was one of the works that I analyzed closely, and studied and practiced to perform. In particular, I was drawn to the second movement’s overwhelming pathos that opens to the unbridled joy of the third movement. Unheard Voices (Hindi Naririnig na mga Tinig) dwells on the emotional content of this second movement while looking forward to the hope suggested by the third.
In this piece, I ask Yael to perform the new work while at the same time listening privately to a recording of Beethoven’s work with headphones. As a result, two separate yet joint listening experiences occur simultaneously: the audience listens to my piece being performed by the pianist who in turn is listening to something that the audience can’t hear. This is a compositional technique that I borrowed from New Zealander Celeste Oram.
Unheard Voices also uses another technique, which I heard about from the Italian composer Filippo Perocco, who devised a creative process that involves “carving away” notes from a pre-existing work. For Unheard Voices, I used the second movement of Op. 10, No. 3 as the canvas upon which I created my piece, “carving away” many of the notes, while keeping a certain few and echoing others (like ghostly whispers) in the piano gestures. And embedded within Unheard Voices is a quote from the “Agnus Dei” of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis on the text dona nobis pacem: a cry for peace that is the underpinning of Yael’s commissioning project.