Cergio Prudencio’s Antología 1 Showcases Daring Bolivian Composer

Cergio Prudencio – Antología 1: Obras para la Orquesta Experimental de Instrumentos Nativos
(Buh Records)

Cergio Prudencio was born in La Paz, a city at the feet of the Andes mountains in South America. Sitting in a windswept crater 12,000 feet above sea level, Bolivia’s de facto capital is home to skyscrapers and millennia-old ruins. Entrenched somewhere between the ancient and the futuristic, La Paz is a city at the mercy of the forces of history and nature. Prudencio, Bolivia’s most important living composer, has been making music imbued with that essence since the early 1980s, creating ambitious orchestral pieces for traditional instruments while developing a synthesis of contemporary academic music and native Bolivian sounds.

This new archival release showcases some of Prudencio’s most crucial work, spanning five pieces dating between 1980 and 2015. One notable standout is “La Ciudad,” a recognizably post-minimalist work but also unwaveringly faithful to Bolivian traditional music. Composed in 1980, it started as a commission from the University of La Paz for a protest folk song. However, Prudencio delivered something more radical: a 22-minute recording of woodwinds and drums slowly massing and propelling forward, a perplexing sound not dissimilar to what one could hear on the streets of La Paz yet emanating from a distant sonic past. “La Ciudad” dared to envision experimental music with an unmistakable Bolivian identity, allowing Prudencio to break from his classical training and bear an avant-garde musical form of his own.

The compilation casts a wide stylistic net—from “Tríptica,” a work for traditional stringed instruments, to “Cantos Funerales,” a ritualistic plunge in the world of souls. These pieces highlight a career-spanning retrospective of a groundbreaking composer, one whose music embodies the collision between the overwhelming sounds of the Bolivian mountains and the modern cities that thrive beside them. – GRADE: A

You can check out Antología 1 at Bandcamp and elsewhere.

Buh Records

To see our running list of the top 100 greatest rock stars of all time, click here.