Hebert Vázquez

Hebert Vázquez

Fellow: Awarded 2008

Field of Study: Music Composition

Competition: Latin America & Caribbean

Educated at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música (1981-89), Carnegie Mellon University (M.F.A., 1991), and the University of British Columbia (D.M.A., 1999), Hebert Vázquez is almost as well known for his contributions to music theory scholarship as for his highly original compositions that play upon but always transcend Mexican cultural themes.

His compositions, which range from pieces for small ensembles to orchestral compositions and operas, were recognized early on with a number of honors and awards. As a student at the National Conservatory, he earned the Istvan Lang Composition Scholarship (1987), the National Award for the Youth (1987), and the Maestro Jesús Reyes Heroles Excellence Mention (1987). He won second prize for his Variantes Nocturnas for amplified guitar and orchestra at the Felipe Villanueva National Composition Competition, and first prize at the same competition the following year, for his orchestral piece Imágenes del Laberinto; both of those compositions were premiered by the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Eduardo Diazmuñoz.

His initial graduate studies were supported by two National Fund for the Arts and Culture Fellowships, and a Distinguished Creator Fellowship. He also taught composition and theory during his graduate years (1992-95) at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música. When he moved on to Vancouver for his doctoral studies at UBC, he received two consecutive Foreign Studies Fellowships from the National Fund for the Arts and Culture and a UBC Graduate Fellowship. In 1996 the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) commissioned him to write a fanfare in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of Nezahualcoyotl Hall.

In 1997, while still at UBC, his first scholarly article, “Orden y caos en el studio 1 para piano de Ligeti” (Order and chaos in Legeti’s Piano Etude No. 1), was published in the Mexican music journal Pauta; subsequently, he has written more than a half dozen articles of music theory and analysis, appearing in Pauta, La Tempestad, and Perspective Interdisciplinaria de Música. Fundamentos teóricos de la música atonal (Fundamentals of Atonal Music Theory), his first monograph, was published in 2006 jointly by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the National Fund for the Arts and Culture; it has since become a standard text in Spanish-speaking countries. That same year UNAM invited him to join the editorial board of its journal Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Music.

In 1998 his Guitar Sonata No. 1 won second prize in the Jaurès Lamarque-Pons International Guitar Competition in Montevideo, Uruguay; Déjá vu received honorable mention the following year in Mexico’s Sinfonica Orchestra Composition Competition; in 1999 he was also elected to membership in the National System of Artists, which led to his being invited to serve as a professor in its Young Artist Program from 2000 to 2004.

Mr. Vázquez joined the faculty of the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo in 2000 as a full-time professor and researcher. He spent his sabbatical term in 2006-07 as a visiting scholar at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. There his dual career as author and composer continued, as he completed his six-piece chamber music cycle entitled Bestiary and his book on the work of Mexican composer Mario Lavista.

The music of Hebert Vázquez has been featured at many international festivals—in Germany, chile, Italy, Cuba, Canada, Uruguay, Spain, and, of course, Mexico—and performed by such noted groups as the New Juilliard ensemble, the Arditti String Quartet, the Nomad Ensemble of Japan, the UNAM Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Carnegie Mello Philharmonic Orchestra.

Among his most significant compositions are El jardín del pasaje púrpura, for flute and guitar (1995); Music for Two Mega-Instruments and Chamber Ensemble (1997-98); String Quartet (1999); Bestiary: Jabberwock, for flute/alto flute, bass clarinet, and piano (2003); and Pedacería fantástica, for guitar and chamber ensemble (2006). During his Guggenheim Fellowship term, he composed a Concerto for Guitar and Chamber Ensemble, for the Nomad Ensemble.