Career Narrative

Born in Alzira, Valencia (Spain), a region where every small town has at least one or two symphony wind ensembles, my first contact with music was as natural as playing with friends at recess. By age 16, I had a professional degree in trumpet and was a founding member of the newly created National Youth Orchestra of Spain. And even though performing was an exciting part of my musical experience, my real passion has always been creating music. For the next four years, I embarked on a dual master’s degree in composition studies and trumpet while teaching harmony, music theory and trumpet. I then moved to Boston to expand my musical palette at Berklee College of Music, where I specialized in film scoring.

Before I could finish my second semester, I started getting offers to score documentaries. I was intrigued, and I left Berklee for Los Angeles to learn by doing — a literal version of "fake it till you make it." I enjoyed relative success for a few years, scoring over 30 films: shorts, features & documentaries, with actors like Margaux Hemingway, Roy Scheider, Daryl Hanna, Eric Roberts, Tia Carrere. As exciting as film was, I missed my real passion, which was classical music, in whatever label it came: contemporary, new music, concert music.

In my next chapter, I returned to my roots, writing concert music for wind & brass. It was during this period that I developed my own language and style, far from the constraints of the screen. It was a language defined by a consonance-dissonance duality, and through these conflicting elements, I created a narrative to immerse the audience in a personal journey I often describe as “out-of-context tonality.”My music was informed by — and often reflected on — the human experience and a search for raw expressionism.I was nominated in 2003 and again in 2004 for an Euterpe Award for best symphonic work by the Federation of Musical Organizations in Valencia, Spain.

I soon realized that what I had to say required more than wind & brass. My years of studying orchestration and analyzing scores paid off when I had the chance to orchestrate for Plácido Domingo. It was a dynamic collaboration that would span decades, reflecting his great range. In the 1990s, our collaborations included sporadic arrangements for the "Christmas in Vienna" concert series with the Vienna Symphony and the Three Tenors Concert in Paris in 1998 under the baton of Mto. James Levine.

Our collaborations were performed at other venues in the 2000s, such as "La Corona di Pietra" at the Arena di Verona, under the stage direction of Franco Zefirelli; the Three Tenors in Monterrey; the official Operalia Anthem, which Mto. Domingo conducts every year with the finalists of the contest; the "Concert of the Thousand Columns" in 2007 at the Mayan Pyramids of Chichen Itzá; and the recording of the CD "Spanish Passion," where I orchestrated most of the pieces and won a Latin Grammy for Best Classical Album of 2008. That CD is also part of a “111 Years of Deutsche Grammophon” anthology, which the company selected as their most representative of the label.

After 15 years of working with world-class orchestras and conductors, I had a solid base upon which to apply to my own compositions. This became my sole focus. My compositions have been performed by the San Francisco Symphony, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic (Brass & Percussion sections), National Orchestra of Spain, City of Prague Philharmonic, Orchestra & Choir of Radio & Television, Seoul Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Symphony, andOrchestra of the Valencian Community (Les Arts), at venues such Carnegie HallTchaikovsky Concert HallTeatro RealAdrienne Arsht Center, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Over the years, I have published some of my works with BIM Editions of Switzerland, Editorial Piles, Rivera Editores and Tritó Editions of Spain. I also created my own publishing company, KA Music Publishing, which focuses primarily on digital downloads.

By 2010, I looked to challenge myself and find a new canvas for creative expression. My symphonic experience led me to my biggest project yet: In 2012, I was commissioned by National Ballet of Spain to write "Sorolla," based on murals that the painter created for the Hispanic Society of America. Capturing Sorolla’s characteristic Mediterranean luminosity was essential, but the murals also possessed a more complex texture and depth, which I aimed to reflect. The music had to be flexible enough for dancers to express the power and subtlety of Spanish folklore with the contemporary imprint of a 21stcentury work.

Sorolla premiered in June 2013 and had a long life, visiting Madrid, Barcelona and Miami. It was nominated for a Max Award (Spain's Tony's equivalent), and the Mayor of Alzira, Spain, awarded me the city’s Gold Insignia for my achievements and contributions to music and the arts.

This experience with a full ballet challenged me to pursue a more audacious goal, the greatest art form: Opera. In 2016, I was commissioned to compose an opera in 3 acts to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Madrid’s Teatro Real. 

Based on the life of Picasso, this was my second project about a painter. Picasso and 20thcentury Paris have always been one of my favorite references of modernism, and the libretto for this opera allowed for an interesting stylistic evolution. It reflected the artist’s experience from his beginnings through the deconstruction of cubism and each of his different phases. By the 3rdact, we see the consequences of his actions, both professional and personal, the commercialism of art, and the tragic destiny of those who loved him. A broad palette of emotions needed to be created, encompassing different musical languages, from verismo to aleatory music to rap, while maintaining a cohesive musical discourse. "El Pintor" (The Painter) premiered in February 2018, with libretto by Albert Boadella, the Orchestra of the Teatro Real, and the Community Chorus of Madrid, conducted by Mto. Manuel Coves.

Staying with the Spanish theme, I turned next from art to literature, still focusing on the human experience and blurred lines between fantasy, ideals and reality.I premiered a two-act chamber opera, "Dulcinea XL," offering a new take on the classic tales of Cervantes' Don Quixote. I also wrote the libretto, which pushed me into the art of literary interpretation and making the text relevant to a modern audience. It premiered at Zipper Hall (Los Angeles) in January 2019, with the LA Grand Ensemble conducted by Mto. Ignazio Terrasi. 

While composing has been fulfilling and rewarding, I wanted to get involved in the community and promote music and art. In 2010, I founded Valencia Cultural Point, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to establish cultural links between Spain and Los Angeles. One of our most popular projects has been "Artistic Soirées," a series of private classical concerts and art collaborations held at my own loft in downtown Los Angeles, where guests can experience the finest from LA’s art scene in an intimate setting. The Soirées have afforded me an opportunity to be an observer rather than an artist, witnessing the audience’s connection to art and music as they experience both internal and external perception. I have found this deeply satisfying and complementary to my work as a composer, which is why we’re entering our 10thyear of Artistic Soirées. 

Another project that we sponsor is the "LA Grand Ensemble," created in 2012 in collaboration with conductor Ignazio Terrasi. The ensemble is composed of musicians from prestigious orchestras in Los Angeles. Its mission is to interact with other elements, such as lighting, set design, costume design, video projections and 21st century technologies, in an effort to engage the audience visually, and to have a sense of theatrical continuity by immersing the public into the context of the music.

After several decades of pursuing more traditional approaches to musical forms (chamber, symphonic, ballet & opera), my desire to evolve is taking me once again in a slightly different direction. My goal for the immediate future is to create pieces that bridge genres and incorporate distinct elements into a new performative art form that re-evaluates the concert experience. This 21st-century approach will build on modern themes and musical forms while taking advantage of technology as a means of engaging, educating and inspiring audiences.