Artist Spotlight: Ezequiel Viñao, Composer

Meet Argentinian-American composer: Ezequiel Viñao. Ezequiel is will be in residence July 11-16, and his Piano Trio will be performed on Friday, July 14 and Sunday, July 16.

Image courtesy of Ezequiel Viñao

Tell us a little bit about your early years. 

I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As far back as I can remember there was music in my house. Like my older brother, I first studied the guitar, but then, at age ten, I switched to the piano. A couple of years later I begin private composition lessons with a composer and violinist who had emigrated to Argentina during the Russian Civil War.

How you were first exposed to music and composing?

As a teenager, I also studied electroacoustic music techniques, which were very much in vogue in the Buenos Aires of the mid ‘70s (the city had a Municipal Center for Communications and Technology which was a magnet for young composers). It was around that time, at the beginning of the “dirty war”, that I met Earl Wild, who was on tour (he used to visit Buenos Aires quite regularly back then). Earl heard me play the piano and, after I finished high school, he secured a United Nations grant to help me move to New York and attend the Juilliard School.

Where do you draw inspiration for your compositions?

Mostly from literature, and from a number of musical traditions, in particular the music of India, Persia and the Arab world. I’m also a keen student of western medieval practices. More recently, I’ve started looking at some Latin-American styles (especially Tango) which I grew up with but had never really been part of my (conscious) compositional process

What instruments do you play?

 I studied a little guitar when I was little. I also took some violin lessons later on, and then minored in voice while at Juilliard. But the only instrument I ever truly “mastered” was the piano.

 Have you ever had writer’s block and what helps you move through that?

I’ve never had writer’s block. As I see it, composing is mostly problem-solving. When you have the tools to analyze a problem it is only a matter of time and discipline solving it. But I do work slowly and I don’t have the urge to write hundreds of pieces.

Does traveling positively or negatively affect your creativity? 

It doesn’t really affect it one way or the other beyond the fact that when I’m traveling, I don’t usually compose, so I have the opportunity to think about music –a specific issue I may be either interested in or actually working on at that particular point in time- with greater “distance”, in a more general, abstracted way.

Do you have a favorite location (in nature, a specific city, on a train, etc) where you like to compose?

My dream would be to have a studio in either the mountains or overlooking a body of water. With time, I have grown very sensitive to urban noise: I find it extremely disturbing. 

What do you do in your free time?

I’m an avid soccer and rugby fan, I enjoy cooking and I’m a life-long student of wine, history and geopolitics.