Meet the Composers: Magda Giannikou & Ricardo Romaneiro

from the desk of Zach Manzi

On March 29 and 30, my Nu Deco colleagues and I will be at New World Center performing works by several composers, two of which will be world-premieres from two composers who are completely new to me, so I’m diving into their stories as we approach the start of rehearsals.

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Banda Magda is the eclectic band led by Magda Giannikou. Performing in six languages, the group broke into the music world with their debut album Amour, t’es là?, from which the title track became a huge hit as a single:

We’ll perform a new piece by Magda, who last joined the group in 2017. Her music embodies the bright spirit of Miami, and her focus on multiculturalism speaks volumes to such an international city. In addition to performing, the group tours to schools to lead workshops for kids to explore themselves through music. The group says, “Our vision for education is to encourage open-mindedness and self exploration through the study of global music cultures.” Their message is clear–music inspires and unites people–which we similarly strive to accomplish here at Nu Deco.

Since their first album, Banda Magda has released two others, Yerakina and Tigre. She’s also performed with jazz and funk collective Snarky Puppy as part of their intimate listening experience, Family Dinner Volume 1, in which audience members are on stage with the performers listening through headphones to hear the full mix of the group. In this video, Magda is seen playing accordion, one of her many chosen instruments.

The world premiere piece written by Magda Giannikou for the performances at New World Center on March 29-30 will be titled Khonsu and is inspired by the Yellow Tarot Deck by Luli Cereseto with bright visuals by Pablo Cavillo & MaliArts.

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Ricardo Romaneiro has been written up in the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, among many others, for his compositions and experiential performances. He last performed with the full Nu Deco Ensemble in December 2016 at The Light Box:

Electronic sounds are all around us in the pop music world, but they can be controversial in the traditional classical music world. Of course, Nu Deco shakes things up, but I guess we as classically-trained instrumentalists tend to scoff at electronic sounds, finding them to often be a gimmicky addition layered on top of an acoustic piece. On those rare occasions, however, electronics can open up entirely new and complex sound worlds that feel more relatable for audiences of our generation. In these cases, we lose ourselves in the music, not troubled by the task of differentiating between the two kinds of sound.

Ricardo fuses acoustic and electronic sounds so tightly that it feels like they belong together. I first heard this successful synergy in a piece called Pillaging Music by Nico Muhly, which is composed of a sonic palate generated by piano, percussion, and electronics (take a listen–can you distinguish the acoustic from the electronic?). Same thing in Ricardo’s music. Although his works contain more explicitly DJ-like elements, the marriage of sounds feels completely organic.

The world premiere piece written by Ricardo Romaneiro, with visuals by Christian Hannon, that will be premiered at New World Center on March 29-30 is titled Sombras and draws its inspiration from the interplay between shadows in orchestration and visuals.

Check out works by these two composers, as well as a special collaboration with Tune-Yards and the music The Police.

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