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Juan Álamo
Associate Professor Juan Álamo

Coming soon to speakers near you: Associate Professor Juan Álamo‘s latest album project Ensoñación. Scheduled for release on Summit Records this summer, Ensoñación (Reverie), features original compositions and new arrangements of Bach and Beethoven works by Álamo himself. This incredible fusion of influences comes together to create an exciting, transformative listening experience. Learn what inspired Álamo to write this new album and what he hopes listeners will take from their experience of this new sonic journey.

UNC Music: What inspired you to write Ensoñación?

Álamo: First of all, Ensoñación is a Spanish word for Reverie (being lost in one’s thoughts).  The main inspiration for this piece came from the beautiful landscapes of my homeland Puerto Rico. It’s an overall feeling of reverie, but there are a few places in particular that inspired me, such as the historic colonial city of Old San Juan, El Morro ( a fortress built between the 16th and 18th centuries), and a national forest called El Yunque. In a way, I was trying to capture the dreamy or musing state I experienced admiring the various sites around the island.

Waterfall with lush greenery all around
Waterfall in El Yunque National Park (Photo credit Jeff Hitchcock, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)


UNC Music: Who are your biggest musical influences, particularly in regards to this album?

Álamo: I listen to all kinds of music from jazz to pop to classical and world music and I am constantly drawing from all of those genres. In regards to this album, most of the music in this album was composed by J.S. Bach and L.V. Beethoven. In fact, originally the album was going to be titled Bach and Beethoven Re-Imagined. However, in the processes of learning Beethoven’s Bagatelles I got inspired to write Ensoñación

UNC Music: Do you have a favorite track on the album?

Álamo: It’s hard to pick one but if I had to, then perhaps I will choose the sixth Bagatelle from Beethoven’s 11 Bagatelles Op. 119.

UNC Music: What was the recording process like during the pandemic?

Álamo: Fortunately, I recorded the album before the pandemic started. However, because of the pandemic, I had to delay the entire postproduction process and the release.  Originally, the album was scheduled to be released last fall but in light of the fact that all my live presentations were canceled, I decided to postpone everything until this summer.

Calle Fortaleza with umbrellas (Photo credit Wikimedia Commons)

UNC Music: What do you hope listeners will take away from the album?

Álamo: I hope that listeners experience a kind of “Reverie/Ensoñación” effect as they listen to this wonderful music and in the process rediscover the Cello suites and Bagatelle pieces through the wonderful mellow sound of the marimba. I think that those pieces take on a “new life” musically speaking through the musical and sonic qualities of the marimba! I am convinced that if both Bach and Beethoven were alive, they would be writing for the marimba! Likewise, I hope that everyone would enjoy listening to my composition and hear the influences of Bach and Beethoven in my own writing.   

UNC Music: Do you plan to have an album release party?

Álamo: Yes, but don’t have a set date yet. Most likely in November or December 2021.

UNC Music: When and how can people buy and listen to Ensoñación?

Álamo: The album will be available on all media platforms (e.g., Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc.).

UNC Music: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or this album?

Álamo: In addition to the audio recording, I also made videos of some of the pieces on the album and I have been releasing them on my YouTube channel.  I am planning to release more videos in the next couple of months leading up to the official album release. Readers are welcome to visit my YouTube and enjoy the videos.

Watch the official video for Ensoñación below.

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