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Gabriel Bolaños

Tempe, AZ      

Gabriel José Bolaños (b. 1984 Bogotá, Colombia) is a Nicaraguan-American composer of solo, chamber, orchestral and electronic music. He frequently collaborates closely with performers, and writes music that explores unusual structures and timbres. He is interested in computer-assisted-composition, auditory perception and linguistics. 

Recent projects include a residency at CIRM with a commission for ensemble C. Barré for festival MANCA in Nice, France, a collection of audiovisual vignettes titled The Grand Transparents, a collaboration with Bassoonist Dana Jessen for solo bassoon and electronics called Los Minúsculos, and a collaboration with jazz pianist Frank Carlberg featuring improvised solo piano with live processing.

Bolaños received a BA in Music from Columbia University and a PhD in Music Theory and Composition from UC Davis. His principal composition teachers include Mika Pelo, Pablo Ortiz, Laurie San Martin, Fabien Lévy and Sebastian Currier, and he studied orchestration with Tristan Murail. He also attended the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau (France), SICPP (Boston), Atlantic Music Festival (Maine), New Music on the Point (Vermont), Festival Mixtur (Barcelona) and SPLICE Institute (Michigan).

Bolaños is Assistant Professor of Music Composition at Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, where he teaches courses in composition and electronic music. He was visiting lecturer at Bates College for the 2018-2019 academic year and taught courses in music theory and music technology. As a 2016-17 Fulbright Visiting Scholar in Nicaragua, he was composer-in-residence and visiting conductor for the UPOLI Conservatory Orchestra, and visiting professor at the UPOLI Conservatory of Music. He is co-founder and artistic director of Proyecto Eco, Nicaragua’s first new-music ensemble. He has also helped organize artistic and cultural exchanges between US and Nicaraguan musicians. Beyond his work as a teacher and composer of concert music, he has also written music for film, theater and dance, and has experience performing as a flamenco dance accompanist.


Mombacho, for harp, guitar, cimbalom, double bass and electronics
by Gabriel Bolaños Chamorro
réalisation informatique musicale: Monica Gil Giraldo

commissioned by CIRM, National Center for Creation of Music (Nice, France)
for the 2019 MANCA festival
work done in the studios of CIRM
premiered by Ensemble C. Barré

This piece was inspired by the rich, immersive sonic ecosystem of the Mombacho volcano in Granada, Nicaragua.

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Sonorita, for flute and clarinet in b-flat. Performed by Zach Sheets and Vicente Alexim.

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A Trip Down Market Street

A Trip Down Market Street was shot by the Meyers brothers in 1906, just days before the San Francisco earthquake that destroyed much of the city’s downtown. The music opens with surreal, dream-like textures that gradually descend to the ensemble’s lowest register as the camera approaches the Ferry Building . The musical process parallels the route of the cable car in the film, and and attempts to draw a wedge between the blissfully ignorant subjects and the viewer with knowledge of impending destruction.

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