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Violinist Pekka Kuusisto Performs Enrico Chapela’s “Antiphaser” Concerto

Kuusisto performs the work on electric violin with the Seattle Symphony and conductor Andrew Litton


The month from September 15 to October 15 marks Hispanic Heritage Month — an annual celebration of Hispanic and Latino history and culture, giving extra recognition to the many contributions made to the history and culture of the United States, including advocacy work, art, music, foods, and more.

Mexican composer Enrico Chapela’s Antiphaser Concerto for Electric Violin and Orchestra is one of those important contributions within the contemporary music scene. 

Co-commissioned by the Seattle Symphony, the concerto received its world premiere in 2022 by the orchestra, featuring violinist Pekka Kuusisto, and conductor Andrew Litton

Focusing on the ever-shifting relationship between the Earth and its moon, the four movements of Antiphaser represent different planetary phases, from the complementary perspectives of the Earth and Moon:

I. The Earth — Full / The Moon — New

II. The Earth — Waning / The Moon — Waxing

III. The Earth — New / The Moon — Full

IV. The Earth — Solar Eclipse / The Moon — Lunar Eclipse


An excerpt of the world premiere of Antiphaser can be viewed below. 


“Enrico has created something unique,” Kuusisto wrote on Facebook. “The manipulation of the violin sound requires the composer to sit on stage and launch the effects himself — my pedal board alone can’t handle it. But it’s a fun privilege to have the composer right there, playing an absolutely crucial part in the performance. The tangle of cables you see behind my legs lead to his workstation.”


Chapela studied guitar and composition in Mexico City and at the University of Paris Saint-Denis. His musical style fuses different geographic traditions and musical soundworlds, including minimalist, jazz, or rock idioms. Chapela has also composed six Mexican film scores.

His music has been broadcasted in over 40 countries, and been commissioned by major orchestras worldwide. Additionally, he is the CEO at Núcleo Integral de Composición, and academic director at his alma mater, Centro de Investigación y Estudios de la Música (CIEM).


Antiphaser is a continuation of Chapela’s writing for electronic instruments — his 2011 MAGNETAR electric cello concerto for cellist Johannes Moser, was inspired by the electromagnetic energy of the electric cello, which led him to write the workaround magnetars, the biggest magnetic fields in the universe. 

Antiphaser was one of multiple works by 25 living composers for Seattle Symphony’s 2022/23 concert season, which involved five commissions, four world premieres, and two U.S. premieres.

Included in these 25 composers are Freida Abtan, Dai Fujikura, Angelique Poteat, and Abel Selaocoe, as well as Gabriella Smith, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Tan Dun, Gina Gillie, Nina Shekhar, Salina Fisher, Qigang Chen, Caroline Shaw, Shanyse Strickland, and Han Lash, among others.

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