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Feb. 3: Carnegie Mellon School of Music Composer Presents Three World Premieres and Three New Recordings


Kristi Ries                        

Eric Sloss

Carnegie Mellon School of Music Composer Presents
Three World Premieres and Three New Recordings

stagePITTSBURGH—Barcelona-native Leonardo Balada, University Professor of Composition in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Music, has an extraordinary year in store.
This month, his "Faust-bal" grand opera will be premiered at Madrid's Teatro Real; a revised version of "Voices no. 2" for chorus will be performed on tour by the Dutch National Student Choir in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, among other venues; a music hall will be named in his honor; two new CDs, his ninth and 10th recordings, will be released on the Naxos Classical music label; and on June 29, his piece for cello and string orchestra "Caprichos no. 5- Homage to Isaac Albeniz," which was commissioned by the Orquesta de Camara Iberica, will premiere at a festival in Leon, Spain.
Columna Music Records has also recently released Balada's "Concerto for Cello and Nine Players," performed by cellist Jurgen Van Win. An early work, this piece was commissioned by the great cellist Gaspar Cassado. For more information, visit Balada's Web site at
Completed in 2007, the 90-minute opera "Faust-bal" was commissioned by Madrid's Teatro Real. The first of nine performances led by world-renowned conductor Jesus Lopez-Cobos takes place Feb. 13 at Teatro Real.
With libretto by Fernando Arrabal, "Faust-bal" is based on the classical character Faust, but takes place in the third millennium in which the two principal characters' genders are switched. Faust is now Faust-bal, a beautiful woman of superior intellect and the only visible example of human goodness in a world dominated by violence. The opera is full of symbolism and contrasts, ranging from pure idealism to destruction by war, from the ironic to the grotesque, culminating in a tragic conclusion. In contrast to previous operas by Balada — "Christopher Columbus," "Death of Columbus," "Zapata" and "Hangman, Hangman!" — that encompass folkloric ideas, "Faust-bal" is universal in its music and story without ethnic suggestions of any kind.
"Faust-bal" will be broadcast live on Spain's Radio Nacional beginning at 1:55 p.m., Feb. 18. To listen, visit, click on Radio and then Radio National en directo.
Balada's new CD releases include recordings of "Cristobal Colon" ("Christopher Columbus") with stars Jose Carreras and Montserrat Caballe, and "La Muerte de Colon" ("Death of Columbus") recorded by Carnegie Mellon's Chorus and Philharmonic under the direction of Robert Page, with Jon Garrison in the title role.
On Feb. 16, the music hall at the Instituto de Educacion Cardenal Cisneros will be dedicated in Balada's honor. This is a branch of the University of Alcala, one of the oldest institutions in Europe.  
The composer, whose career spans five decades, is also the subject of a soon-to-be-released biography. "Leonardo Balada: La mirada oceanica (Leonardo Balada: An oceanic expression)" was written for Fundacion Autor of Madrid by Juan Francisco de Dios.
Carnegie Mellon's School of Music educates outstanding, intellectually gifted musicians through excellence in performance, creativity, scholarship and pedagogy. The School of Music offers undergraduate degrees in music composition and instrumental, vocal and keyboard performance. Graduate degrees are offered in composition, conducting and performance, and music education. The school also offers a variety of highly acclaimed non-degree programs, such as the Performance Residency Program, the Artist Diploma Program and the Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Piano Pedagogy, Advanced Flute Studies, Orff Schulwerk and Music Education certificate programs.


Pictured above is a rendering of the "Faust-Bal" scene design for Teatro Real Madrid, designed by Joan J. Guillen.