Arts & Culture

Augsburg premieres at Rayuela Festival


A collaboration between Augsburg’s assistant composition professor Reinaldo Moya and concert pianist Matthew McCright titled “The Way North” was unveiled on Friday, Oct. 6 in Sateren Auditorium. The Rayuela Festival aimed to highlight an immigration journey from Central America to the United States. In English, “rayuela” translates to “hopscotch” and Friday’s performance allowed audience members to do just that.

While Moya described his own migration from Venezuela as a teenager as relatively easy, the piece intended to shed light on the emotional journey many other stories face.

“I was really drawn to [the idea of] passing through, leaving everything behind. There’s something cinematic about that. There’s a parallel there, between wandering person and wandering artist,” Moya explained as the evening began.

As a prelude to the composition, Augsburg students joined performing arts professor Beliza Torres Narvaez for a short spoken word reading based on the novel “The Beast” by Oscar Martinez which tells the story of South American migrants journeying through Mexico via train. Though spoken word is typically performed in an aggressive manner, it was not just the tone that sent chills through my spine. The words alone highlighted the horror, turmoil and bravery of migrating. The desert is a “cemetery for the nameless,” and rape is described as a “borderwide practice.”

When the readers stepped down from the stage, McCright sat down at the piano bench and began to play. What started in a quiet, somber tone quickly evolved into a dark and haunting melody. It then broke into complicated harmonies and transcended into more delicate tones.

As the piece progressed, we heard more and more contrast in emotion. Just like the translation suggests, we hopscotched through not only feelings but literal places as well. Each transition — usually a long pause and deep breath by McCright — brought the audience to the varying feelings attached with leaving home, jumping trains and finding comfort in the new. While at times these new settings were difficult to follow even with the help of a program guide, I enjoyed the concept. Even if one was to lose their place, the heavy, stomach-punching emotion was still present.

As for the ending, a spectacular final melody brought visions of hope and concluded with a final pause. This was followed by overwhelming applause and a standing ovation. The feeling I got after the piece was the perfect emotional mixture of happiness, tearfulness and amazement.

This article first appeared in the Friday, October 13, 2017, Edition of The Echo.