Press & reviews

Hilda Paredes took the Mexican poetry of Pedro Serrano and transformed it into a blazing triumph. Their step-son Jake Arditti joined forces as a sweet, soulful countertenor, some bizarre moments for him including whispering and a finger over the mouth to imply insanity (if that makes sense?). The fine, pastoral verse was well met, with the soft quartet writing as well.

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Get the Chance

One of the strongest performances of the night […] was Reencuentro, by the Mexican-British composer Hilda Paredes. Hospelhorn’s bass flute brought out rich textures, and Jimoh and Horie provided harmonics as the trio volleyed a multitude of sounds. [Full review here.]

I care if you listen

Hilda Paredes’s song quintet, Canciones Lunáticas, in three movements, was composed in 2008/9 for her stepson, Jake Arditti. These are songs based on a set of texts by her fellow Mexican, the poet Pedro Serrano. […] It’s the sound of the quartet here which gives substance to the madness in the text – extended instrumental techniques in the strings that add to the idea of fear and a kind of psychosis in noise. But the madness is entirely within the text and it’s through the voice that this has to emerge and where it did through Jake Arditti’s penetrating, deeply disturbing singing.

The language, Spanish, proved more than capable of conveying a phonetic picture of madness, but in poems where the theme of madness and lunacy is so clear vocal gestures like whispering sounded all the more suggestive of paranoia. Individual touches, like verbal tics, lip-smacks, the sudden leap in register, glissandos that swerved and bent like the wind were magnificently projected and stood out, especially when this was a voice also capable of holding a note with effortless purity, allied with a majestic power and vocal colour that is richer than many countertenors […] Jake Arditti’s singing of Canciones Lunáticas and the playing in the Xenakis Trio will probably be two individual performances I will not find bettered this year. Just outstanding.

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Opera Today

Hilda Paredes wrote Espacios intemporales in 2017 and it is the longest of this encounter, also the one that gives more virtuoso exposure to each of the four music stands, without the pyrotechnics detracting from the lucidity and suggestive capacity of a timbre search that seems to be, during the whole journey, in permanent calibration and recalibration of different states of mind, of affections in an almost baroque sense.

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At 17:30 minutes long, Espacios intemporales (2017) is the longest quartet on this CD, and this is no coincidence, but a very thoughtful process on the part of its creator, Hilda Paredes, to make us experience different forms of musical time, as well as to test the links between time, rhythm and matter. In the case of Espacios intemporales, there are two extremes: on the one hand, a slap that, dry, concise and aggressive, makes the saxophone a percussive instrument, of a profusely rhythmic nature, in an instant; on the other hand, beams of light in multiphonics that expand, referring us to time that transcends time itself, with which the dichotomy between time as a framework and the finitude of each event within that context is served.

This idea of a great time frame populated by ephemeral temporalities, more or less lasting, is reinforced by the spatial distribution that the score presents us with, with the four saxophonists surrounding the audience and moving around it, which makes us feel time as a mobile fluid, far from any static conception of it.

Between these two extremes of the slap and the luminous beam of the multiphonic, Hilda Paredes deploys, through SIGMA Project, a rich palette of extended techniques and harmonic language to show the (dis)continuities of time, its expressiveness (with passages that refer us to dance), lyricism and violence: ways of apprehending time that mimic the porous borders between it, as a physical-mathematical concept, and its experience, as subjectivity and the sum of the feverish episodes that here superimpose moments on this great design.

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In the research of the relationship between sound and space, Paredes uses in this long work materials ranging from the extended tenuto sounds (which are sometimes microtonally modulated), to the faster chopped and scaled sounds. This varied and contrasting palette helps her to investigate the effects of listening and how sound moves between performers. At certain moments you can almost see the movement (rather than hear it).

As the title indicates, the work can take listeners to a stage of sonic timelessness, so that they can lose themselves in the spatial diffusion that Hilda Paredes and SIGMA Project invite them to enjoy.

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The concert was rounded off by the Arditti Quartet and the Mexican composer Hilda Paredes, present at Takefu to introduce us to Hacia una Bitácora capilar (2013-14), a score of a quality and mastery of materials up to the challenge of the quartet to which it is dedicated… time and movement become two crucial elements to cohere and disintegrate a quartet in continuous searches, encounters and new departures towards landscapes that never cease to conquer and integrate resources, timbral landscapes and a dialogue between noise, harmony and melody that places this quartet in the most current of the musical landscapes of our time.

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Last Saturday’s second concert was closed by Mexican composer Hilda Paredes, with Siphonophorae (2016), The precision of its attack, especially in terms of extended techniques, created that refined and neat mechanism of contrasts that is Siphonophorae, leaving us with the compositional high point of the concert New Horizons III.

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A night of premieres with Hilda Paredes

Taller Sonoro offered a resounding selection of very recent titles, with three world premieres and the essential presence of Hilda Paredes.

Hilda Paredes was able to present a work very much influenced by the pandemic, as it is a commission from the Siemens Foundation and the Ibermúsicas Programme to be premiered in 2020, finally delayed until now by covid-19. This circumstance meant that the work took a very personal and tragic turn, inspired by an experience of loss and mourning suffered by the composer, which gives the ensemble a delicate and poignant traumatic aspect. With almost the entire cast on stage, the piece is conceived in collaboration with the ensemble, with whom Paredes has a long-standing professional relationship. For this reason, she plays with the possibilities of each and every one of the instruments, to which a new spectral accompaniment of electronic resources gives an atmospheric and enveloping aspect, an immersive experience that provokes the uneasiness sought after in the face of the devastating effects of the health crisis we are suffering. The Seville ensemble’s performance of the work was exemplary in every way, and its prestigious author seemed to appreciate it as well.

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Correo Web

The Espacio Turina held a second session of the Festival Encuentros Sonoros run by Taller Sonoro, who with the collaboration of the Siemens Foundation and the Ibermúsicas programme premiered the commission of Epitafio (2021), by Hilda Paredes, present in the hall and with whom the group had been working on the work during the two immediately preceding days. Despite being placed at the end of a relatively extensive programme, good music always takes centre stage. A work of great emotional commitment for the Mexican composer, Epitafio is in memory of her mother, who died many thousands of kilometres away from her during the period of confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Necessarily, the music, without taking on an obvious mournful character, is born imbued with all those sentimental repercussions that must have agitated the composer whilst writing. Rather than the agitation so significant in many of Paredes’ other works, here it is circumscribed more to the electroacoustic part (worked on at the Experimentalstudio in Freiburg) than to the instrumental writing; more devoted to the search for echoes and sounds in the air, of spasmodic unisons and solos that seemed to be configured as lyrical sketches, as subtly pointed, unspoken laments. The presence of Hilda Paredes once again constituted an event, for the audience and for the members of Taller Sonoro, aware of the importance of already having in their repertoire a work, of a scope, which they will have to perform more in the future.

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Though dubbed a chamber opera, Harriet is much more. It shows what opera can do if we push the boundaries between artistic disciplines. In many ways it is a feat of storytelling. It is all the more poignant, however, as a reminder of the enduring significance of Tubman’s struggle.

Opera Magazine

The work has only three musicians, a violin player, a guitarist and a percussionist, but also contains an electronic component: surreal echoes, doublings and other musical phantoms resound from the walls of the auditorium. All of this makes Harriet into a technically complex piece that compels admiration for that reason alone.  Paredes’ music is beautiful and rich in details, and alongside subtle and rarefied textures, it contains spikier sounds and in the fourth act even martial rhythms.

De Volkskrant Nederland

Listed Number One in Classical Music of 2018: Harriet by Hilda Paredes.

Layered music theatre about the American ex-slave and freedom fighter Harriet Tubman proves that ‘difficult’ contemporary music can appeal to a wide audience. The design is stimulating, the storytelling structure fragmented, the rustling and driving music cleverly interweaved with spirituals. Glorious Soprano Claron McFadden is at the centre in the title role.

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Joep Stapel, NRC

Hilda Paredes’ vocal lines, with sudden and abrupt leaps, are unforgiving to sing and to hear. It’s difficult to say what first begins to make Harriet such an intensely involving work […] The sounds filtering through the theatre – speech, music and just sounds – are insidiously involving, the three on-stage instrumentalists point the drama incisively – the always-on-the-move virtuoso percussionist in particular – and Beeldens, taking on the role of Alice, Margaret’s daughter and Harriet’s protégée, is committed, versatile and increasingly active. The music gains renewed power and relevance from the slave hymns that Harriet used to give coded messages to her passengers on the Underground Railroad.

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The Reviews Hub

The life of Harriet Tubman, African American freedom fighter and former slave, is a gift for an opera composer. Mexican composer Hilda Paredes has managed to distil this story into a vivid, punchy chamber opera for two voices and three instruments. The UK premiere took place during the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival – a hotbed of experimentation – so this was no historical recreation with period costume. Paredes’s score, played live on violin, guitar and percussion and backed by an electronic landscape designed by Monica Gil Giraldo, remains bright and surprising over the 90 minutes.

Werkgroep Caraïbische Letteren

Five pieces of a diverse chronology, structure and nature which offer a good portrait of her wide palette of resources. The five selected pieces encompass a wide period from 1996 to 2013 and are unified by their variety.  A characteristic glisandi, an idiomatic percussive note or the effects in the wind instruments travel through them. A very versatile music in continuous tension and distention.

Josemi Lorenzo Arribas, Scherzo, Jan 2017

We are confronted with an exhaustive stylistic diversity, a score full of interesting technical resources and a truly contemporary artistic proposal. 

Paco Yáñez, Mundo Classico

Bitácora capilar felt like the most intimate setting of the evening […] A collection of pulsations littered the middle section of the piece, metaphorically connecting the heavy beats of two hearts, each instrumentalist introspectively emoting each tone.

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Boston Musical Intelligence

“Whilst living in London and rooted in contemporary European music, echoes of pre-colonial Central American cultures surface in her music, as well as a very definite essential strength, channelled towards a refined and sensitive music always poetically framed.”

Mundo clásico

Amongst the jewels of the programme was the emotive and well crafted Homenaje a Remedios Varo, written in 1995 by the ascending Mexican composer Hilda Paredes.

El Mundo, Spain, 2004

The pieces on this disc were written over a three-year period, from the 1998 string quartet Uy U Tan through the settings of Mayan spells and incantations in Can Silim Tun (1999), to the piano quintet Cotidales and the ambitious ensemble piece Ah Paaxo'ob from 2001. All show that Paredes is a composer with a fresh aural imagination, while her Carter-like use of instrumentalists as dramatic protagonists gives her music an extra dimension. Superbly played, it's music worth investigating.

Four stars - The Guardian, 2005

From the composer Hilda Paredes, ONIX performed Corazón de Ónix, conducted by José Luis Castillo. This is a complex and ambitious piece, well written and with atmospheric and colouristic qualities. It also has solid treatment of different sound production of the instruments. These timbric qualities are enhanced by Paredes with the use of the bass and alto flute as well as bass clarinet. Corazón de Ónix is marked by an interesting expressivity and by very attractive harmonic instability, which is enhanced by the use of micro-intervals and glissandi. All these elements merge in numerous moments of an evocative poetic sonority that is at the same time intense and concentrated.

Juan Arturo Brennan, La Jornada, Mexico, 2006

Finally, Violeta, another prostitute, tells of her friend Iris, slender and not yet 20, sent by her father to "a land of milk and honey ... where dollars grow on trees." Iris' first rape was in the car even before she reached the border. The opera's last line: "I wither from sadness / a flower without dew." Hilda Paredes provides sorrowful music here that is almost too much. She, like the other composers, is a substantial Modernist; her style is complex and difficult. But she knows how to drain substance away too, leaving meaningful emptiness.

LA Times, May 2013

Its rhythmic vitality seduced an audience that was previously sceptical to any proposal by this Latin woman... the reaction was shocking, but with a telluric presence, like our volcanoes.


Lázaro Azar, Reforma, Mexico/Canada, 2001

I cannot resist praising the Homenaje a Remedios Varo by Hilda Paredes as outstanding, not to mention its acute and clear formal construction, with nothing less than a sweeping and impressive finale.

Mundo Clásico, Spain, 2004

Watching the world premier of Hilda Paredes' chamber opera Phantom Palace, I had the sort of out-of body experience where you say to yourself "This can't be happening in New Haven". I simply couldn't come to terms with the realization that I was seeing topflight European modern opera, performed by a major international company premiering a ceaselessly provocative, unexpectedly comic and altogether amazing work... just a few blocks from my home. This is the kind of thing you feel you can only travel huge distances to see. But there it is: New Haven should be talking about Phantom Palace - in a number of languages - for years to come

New Haven Advocate, USA, 2003

...nothing to match the refinement of seamless, Mayan influenced concerto for ensemble Ah Paaxo'ob by the Mexican Hilda Paredes


Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, London, 2002

Hilda Paredes's second quartet, Cuerdas del destino, proved to be the most immediately appealing work of the evening. Formally, it is structured with intricacy, using a small number of striking motifs, but it also works as pure sound - like an Amazon rainforest, with buzzing insects, fluttering wings, and multitudinous drops of rain in a tropical storm (not at all, it has to be said, Paredes's own description).

Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 2013

Ms. Paredes, born in Tehuacán in 1957 and based in London since 1979, is admired for compositions that mix modernist rigor and extended techniques with a primal energy rooted in Maya lore. Here the new-music ensemble Signal, conducted by Brad Lubman, brought its customary authority to three works. The first, Corazón de Onix ("Heart of Onyx", 2005), for a sextet of winds, strings and piano, evoked a gemstone's luster and mutability with sharp, glistening sounds, reshaped and refracted with microtonal smears and noisy outbursts. Señales ("Signals", 2012), newly commissioned by the Miller Theater, featured Irvine Arditti, the formidable English violinist who is also Ms. Paredes's husband. From a lapping, splashing introduction, the music - played by a 10-member ensemble that included an ear-tickling mix of cimbalom, harp and marimba - rippled, surged and jolted ceaselessly around Mr. Arditti's flashing exertions. Time stood still repeatedly during haunting interludes that paid homage to another composer, Jonathan Harvey.

The NY Times, 2012

All four works are finely written and full of life. The title of her string quartet, Uy U T'an - in ancient Mayan - means Listen How They Talk, and Paredes takes the idea of "discourse" literally. The idea dates back to Haydn's quartets, but she gives it an Arditti-ish twist, and the work has a superb dramatic sweep. The Ardittis are joined by the pianist Ian Pace for Cotidales and by Neue Vokalsolisten Stuttgart for the magic-spell evocation of Can Silim Tun. Ah Paaxo'ob (Those Who Play the Music) is a colourfully detailed ensemble piece.

Three stars - The Sunday Times, 2005

Ghosts visited the stage of Yale University Theatre this month, native ghosts from the distant past of an unnamed Latin American country ruled by a brutal dictator... In setting the story, Paredes evidently sought to draw on the musical qualities of the languages used to tell it, sometimes employing electronic means to manipulate her sound material (the spirit voices are made to come from different parts of the theatre), and sometimes using leitmotif textures (rather than themes) to evoke dramatic situations... As her tale is one of pain, she has produce music of pain, full of angularity, pointillism and dissonances, often pervaded by an aura of tension and mystery.

Toronto Star, Canada/USA, 2003

What the music of the Maya's sounded like, nobody knows anymore. But the Mexican composer Hilda Paredes searches for answers in each recorded thought, in each numerological symbolism, and thus in the roots of her own culture.


Wiesbadener Kurier, Germany, 2001