Manuel Torres Arias

About the piece:
The word ether comes from the latin æther -sky, firmament- and which in turn are derived from the indoeuropean root aydh -blaze,  According to the ancient greeks ether was the subtle, invisible, imponderable and elastic fluid that fills all space, and into which vibrations, light, heat, sound and other forms of energy are able to travel across the universe. lt also represented the fifth elernent, which Aristotle defined as “the most subtle, light and perfect", the one that comprised the supra-lunar world; and was claimed by Plato to be "that which God used in the delineation of the universe”. Æther was also one of the Protogenoi, or primordial gods in greek mythology, the personification of the sky, Space and heaven, the elemental god ofthe “brigh, glowing, upper air” that was breathed by all the deities. 

Similar concepts can be found in other cultures. In the pancha mahabhuta, or five great elements of Hinduism, f.e., ether is Akasha, that in sanskrit means space, the first element of the creation­. It was believed to be the “one, eternal and all pervading”, imperceptible physical substance which has the specific quality of constituting the substratum of sound and life (in that particular order). The same therm is employed in Buddhism, for Whom Akasha is also space, divided in two Kinds: The first limited to the material, the physical forms and their perception, and the second being “unlimited, going beyond all description, unbound by the material but yet the container for all things material”. 

ln the same sense ofall this religious or philosophical views, all this cosmogonies, an analogous concept can be traced in modern physics which employs the them quintessence (latin quinta essentia, fifth element) to refer to the hypothetical form of dark matter that is believed to create the pressure that accelerates the expansion of the universe and that constitutes  of its total mass-energy. 

The conception ofthis piece Was to evoke the captivating and poetic qualities of all this theories thru the composition of an electroacoustic work, which would serve from a combination of pre-recorded sounds and musical materials, employed in a symbolic sense, to reflect on some of their ideas. The backbone of it is a palette of recorded radio emissions of the sun, the planets, pulsars, northern lights and other cosmical phenomena, which fascinated me since young age and that suited that purpose perfectly, not only because of their origin, but also for their interesting, mysterious and very musical qualities.

By means of editing, sampling and processing them With the use of several audio effects and digital devices (although sometimes used in their “purest” version) l constructed a "moving soundscape” which aims to recreate sonically the depth, spatiality, mystery, light, darkness and movement of the universe­. At the same time l employed synthesizers, virtual instruments and pre-recorded fragments of my own musical output (that are conceptually related), to generate musical materials: motifs, chords, textures, that could blend, contrast or interact with their particular sonic characteristics and give the music a narrative quality. 

With “Ether” l wanted to express the beauty of all the above interpretations of the cosmos while underlining the connection between the ancient theories, the intuitive understanding of the universe, and the new perspectives in physics and technology that allow us to explore it in its vastness. But mostly, to make a poetic and at the same time dramatic representation of my particular image of the universe with its overwhelming loneliness, infinite mystery and power. 

About the composer:
Manuel Torres Arias started his music studies at the age of 12 by studying several instruments (piano, guitar, bass, violoncello, clarinet...) auto-didactically and in private lessons. In the year 2003 he enters the Center for Music Education and Investigation (C.I.E.M.) in Mexico City to study composition and music theory with teachers such as Ma. Antonieta Lozano, Victor Rasgado, Alejandro Velasco, Enrico Chapela and Tomás Barreiro.

In the year 2006 he obtained the degree of licentiate in Music Theory, Literature and Criticism, by The Trinity College of London and in 2008 the Bachelor in Compositional Techniques by the same institution.

In 2009 he is awarded with the scholarship from the mexican National Fund for the Culture and the Arts (FONCA) to complete the master's course at the Rotterdam Conservatory, where he studied composition and electronic music with Peter Jan Wagemans, René Uijlenhoet, Klaas de Vries, Robin de Raaf and Jan-Bas Bollen. His portfolio of compositions for various media and his research on the psychology of creativity and its potential application in the practice and teaching of composition granted him an outstanding grade in his final examination.

Manuel Torres is a composer that relies mostly on his own intuition, imagination and expressiveness to create a music that aims to give the audience a meaningful experience at the concert hall and that can also serve as a mean to reflect on the nature of the human spirit. His compositions are inspired by philosophy, literature, art, poetry and nature, and he employs this sources of inspiration with the aim of creating a clear discourse that aspires to nourish the audience´ s connection with their emotions, as well as their own spontaneity, creativity and fantasy. His music has been interpreted both in Mexico and in the Netherlands by performers and conductors such as Samuel Pascoe, Bas Wiegers, the ASKO-Schoenberg Ensemble, the pianist Maarten van Veen or Hans Leenders with the Chamber Orchestra of the Conservatory of Rotterdam.

Besides his work as a contemporary music composer, Manuel Torres has collaborated in multidisciplinary projects, writing music for dance, theater, circus, animations and short films. Nowadays he works as a freelance composer and music teacher.