Argentinian composer and conductor Alicia Terzian is no stranger to the world stage. With her group, Grupo Encuentros, Terzian has toured across dozens of countries, bringing the works of Latin American and Argentinian composers to life around the globe. 40 YEARS OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC celebrates the accomplishments of Alicia and her ensemble these past four decades, featuring works by acclaimed composers as well as Alicia herself.

Today, Alicia is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to find out what novels are stashed next to scores and books on music in Alicia’s library…

What inspires you to write and/or perform?

It gives me a lot of energy to compose for and direct my Grupo Encuentros. I do it because it gives me a lot of joy and it changes my way of seeing the world. It makes me happy.

Tell us about your first performance.

My first performance began with my group in November 1978, in a rehearsal for our first international concert tour that would begin in April 1979. With the best musicians in Buenos Aires and a good singer, I put the scores on the music stands and we began to rehearse. I was fascinated to see how the notes on paper came into existence and had a life of their own. It was fabulous!

What advice do you have for young musicians?

My advice to those who start studying music is to do it if it gives them pleasure and they feel happy doing it. If not, I would say to look for another career because doing music for yourself involves much sacrifice. It is important that from a young age you look for the profession that gives you happiness.

If we looked through your music library, what would we be surprised to find?

You would be surprised that next to many scores and books of contemporary music, you would find the detective novels of Swiss writer George Simenon and the extraordinary Agatha Christie. Reading their novels allows me to relax because I concentrate deeply when I read, and for a moment I am able to leave my musical notes.

Do you have any specific hopes about what this album will mean to listeners?

I hope that this album will open many doors in all the capitals of the world to continue making music. That is what my group and I love and want to do: bring the contemporary music of the world as well as the music composed by talented Argentinians, included the tango, to all parts of the world. I hope that this album opens many more doors!

How do you prepare for a performance?

As a conductor, my preparation begins when analyzing the score that I must direct. I try to enter deeply into the intention of the composer and translate the essence and message that the work has to my musicians.

Where and when are you at your most creative?

When I am in front of the public, my creativity grows in an incredible way. I am filled with joy when conducting the program I chose, and I think that makes the work reach the public. I only conduct a work when I know it and deeply understand it, and when it gives me pleasure to conduct it.

What are your passions other than music?

I like the cinema, to read, to go to painting exhibitions, to listen to all kinds of music, to give lectures about music, and to explain to the public how to understand music and each period in musical history. Until I was 24 years old I played tennis pretty well – I studied, rehearsed, and composed Monday through Friday, and Saturdays and Sundays were to go to dances and play tennis. Then the music caught me up. I must confess that I like the sea so much as to contemplate it for hours.

Who are your musical mentors?

I had three teachers who guided me in music. For composition, it was the composer Alberto Ginastera, my only teacher of composition. In musicology, it was Father Leocio Dayan, a religious living in Venice. He analyzed medieval Armenian religious music from the 4th to the 12th centuries and taught me from a very young age to read the ancient neumes in the Armenian religious poems of that time. In conducting it was the Slovenian Prof. Mariano Drago who taught me the secrets of directing.


40 YEARS OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC is now available through Navona Records for streaming or purchase. Click here to explore this new album.

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