Connecting the Dots with Mexican Composer, Gabriela Ortiz

revolution When growing up, I was exposed to a great deal of revolutionary music. I would
listen to music by Victor Jara, Mercedes Sosa, Inti Illimani, and Silvio Rodriguez. While the music components of these artists are simple, the content of the lyrics is extremely complex. The words that go along with the music cover political issues in a raw manner. This is a taste of how the lyrics look like:

The United People Will Never Be Defeated

The united people will never be defeated,

the united people will never be defeated…

On foot, singing

because we are going triumph.

Advance now,

flags of unity.

And you will come

marching together with me,

and in that way you will see

your song and your flag flourish.

The light

of a new dawn

now announces

the life which will come.

On foot, fighting,

the people will triumph.

It will be better,

the life which will come

to conquer

our happiness

and in a protest,

a thousand voices of combat will revolt,

they will demonstrate

the song of liberty,

with courage

the motherland will be victorious.

And now the people

rises up in the fight

with the voice of a giant,

shouting: go forward!

The united people will never be defeated,

the united people will never be defeated…


It never crossed to my mind that there is a composer of classical musical that grew up listening to the same type of music that I did.  Gabriela Ortiz is a Mexican composer that was born in a family of music lovers. Gabriela Ortiz mentions in interviews that she grew up listening to classical music and “folk” music. I would describe her definition of “folk” music as music with political content. Both types of styles were equally important for her.

“Composers reflect their historic context” ~Gabriela Ortiz

                Gabriela Ortiz intents her music to educate and express what is happening in the world, every piece she composes has a deep meaning behind it. She likes communicating with the performers to create a meaningful piece of art. Gabriela Ortiz also combines poetry and unusual sounds in her compositions; however, her blend of sounds is mind-boggling. Her knowledge of instrumentation is fabulous, her compositions sound well-balanced. I feel identified with her music, even before I knew her background.

               Rio Bravo, is a piece that Gabriela Ortiz that expresses the contrasting sides of the El Paso-Juarez border. The piece was written after poem written by a poet from El Paso, Texas. Rio Bravo features glass cups that hold a tritone-drone followed by an unison-drone. In addition, a baritone and violin exchange melodies. Perhaps the glass drone represents the river, the Baritone resemble Juarez, and the violin El Paso.

I used to think that only happy emotions were good, I must admit that Rio Bravo makes me feel uncomfortable, but that does not mean is a bad art. This piece is successful because it expresses the suffering that immigrants crossing the border experience.


I feel identified with Gabriela Ortiz. Her ideals are similar to mine. Gabriela Ortiz says that musicians must give, share, work hard, and be the best human being possible. Borders should not exist, music can bring hope to our world.


By Sandra Rivera



Ricardo Miranda Pérez. “Ortiz, Gabriela.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed April 18, 2017,


Photo Credit: Armando Trull 




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