Washington, DC – At the Spring Concert on Tuesday May 15, 2018, the St. John’s Orchestra premiered a commissioned piece by renowned Argentinian composer and bandleader Guillermo Klein. Canción del Rin, or “Song of the Rhine,” was inspired by a conversation the composer had with a friend by the banks of the Rhine River in Switzerland. The conversation was about oppressive regimes that restrict people’s rights, even to the point of outlawing music. Canción del Rin celebrates the freedom of young musicians to explore many possibilities and then, finding one that moves them, to follow it through to its artistic conclusion—a river of melody, harmony, and rhythm winding its way through time.

At first, you will hear the clavé, or key rhythm, played by the vibraphone and plucked strings. Then listen for the heavy, bass voices of the orchestra punctuating and interrupting that rhythm, like boulders in the stream. A sinuous violin section melody follows, intermingling E Minor with E Major, darkness and light. After an echo in the woodwinds comes the solo violin, playing a melody that Klein says was the first thing he composed for the piece. It came to him as a canción, or “song,” with the lyrics, “Y aquí me pongo a cantar, sin cuerdas ni guitarra”—“I’m here, starting to sing, without strings or guitar.”

The featured soloists on the composition were Aidan McLoughlin on vibraphone, Gemma Lindsay on violin, William Moen and Lenna Shin on cello, and Christian Crawford on tenor saxophone.

Thanks to Mr. Douglass, SJC Strings director, who initiated the project and worked on it throughout the school year. Thanks also the Performing Arts Department and the school’s administration for their support of this. And special thanks to Guillermo Klein for sharing his talents and music with the St. John’s students.

Click here for a video of the performance.