Mauricio Arias is a musician, composer, pianist and improviser, one of the most versatile Colombian musicians of his generation. He has performed his Rapsodia Camaleónica for Piano, Trumpet and Orchestra with the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia and in Carnegie Hall in New York with the AZLO Orchestra. Mr. Arias was featured as the first Colombian guest artist at the Bogotá International Piano Festival.

Mr. Arias has been featured as a soloist with Orquesta Sinfónica de Colombia, Orquesta Sinfónica de Cuba, Filarmónica del Valle, ASU Symphony Orchestra, Münster Hochschule Orchestra, Sinfónica del Tolima, Joven Sinfónica de Colombia, among others. He has been awarded different prizes at international piano competitions, such as Kingsville Isabel Scionti (Texas, 1st prize), Schmidbauer (Texas, 2nd prize), Peabody Mason (Boston, 2nd prize), Panama (special prize for best Latin American pianist), Cervantes (Havana, finalist). Prior to his studies in the USA, he was the winner of the First National Chopin Piano Competition (2005) and the winner of the UIS National piano competition in Colombia.

Mr. Arias was born in Bogotá, Colombia, where he began his piano studies at age thirteen with Ludmiła Weber, with whom he studied until his graduation from Corpas University. He later studied with Baruch Meir and Robert Hamilton at Arizona State University (MM and DMA). He has participated in courses with Joaquín Achúcarro, Eteri Andjaparidze and Vladimir Feltsman. Mainly a self-taught composer, he studied composition with Rodney Rogers James DeMars. Recent works have been commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia, the University of Florida Symphonic Band and the Bogotá Secretary of Education. As a pianist, he is currently promoting works by Colombian living composers (¡Colombia Viva!) and he is a founding member of the Bogotá Piano Trio.

Mr. Arias is currently professor of piano at the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. He is also a freelance composer and collaborative pianist.

This piece was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia on 2015 for the celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of José Barros (1915-2007), who was a composer of iconic Colombian popular songs, such as “La Piragua”. After receiving this commission, I started reviewing all those songs that I knew since childhood and found out that many colombian iconic songs (in many genres, such as, vallenato, pasillo, bolero, tango, etc) were written by the same author, José Barros.

For this hommage, I decided to make use of the genre by which by Barros is remembered the most, Cumbia, which is an afro-colombian rhythm from the Caribbean coast (Nowadays, the genre has been “stolen” and you can hear mexican, argentinian “cumbias”, but, the Original cumbia is colombian).

In the orchestral hommage, I decided to reach a point of “evident” cumbia towards the end of the piece, which would transform itself into a joyous and rhythmically-driven finale. The “evident cumbia” melody is the generative material for the whole piece. Before reaching the cumbia point, the motives are deconstructed and transformed into different shapes, rhythms and timbres, such as the English Horn solo near the opening, the minimalistic echoes that follow it, or the percussion lines in the middle of the piece.