Neil Rolnick

Ambos Mundos (2004)

Ambos Mundos was premiered by Quintet of the Ameircas April 21, 2004 at Merkin Concert Hall, in NYC. The word is recorded on the Innova label.

Rolnick writes: “Ambos Mundos was completed during a week long stay in Havana, Cuba in March of 2004.  The piece takes its name from the hotel in Havana where Ernest Hemingway used to stay in the 1950s.  In Spanish, ‘ambos mundos’ means ‘both worlds.’  This piece is very much about being in two worlds. Havana is a city full of music, and the sound of the clave, the heart beat of Cuban salsa, found its way into the work, letting me take a little of that world into my music.  At the same time, the physical and social environment of revolutionary Cuba is truly a very different world from New York City, where I live. Musically, the juxtaposition of the acoustic wind quintet and its electronically processed reflections create two distinct audio environments in the piece..  The slow and fast worlds of the two halves of the piece, showing two radically different perspectives on the same melodic materials.  Like much of the music I’ve written in the last few years, the piece seems to me to live in at least two stylistic worlds:  on one hand, it is virtuosic music, carefully crafted and using sophisticated digital technology; on the other hand, it’s simple music which you can tap your feet to, with gestures that are direct and dramatic, and with tunes you might even find yourself humming.”    

Composer NEIL ROLNICK pioneered in the use of computers in musical performance, beginning in the late 1970s. Rolnick has often included unexpected and unusual combinations of materials and media whether working with electronic sounds, improvisation, or multimedia. He has performed around the world, and his music appears on 16 CD’s. Though much of Rolnick’s work has been in areas which connect music and technology, and is therefore considered in the realm of “experimental” music, his music has always been highly melodic and accessible. Rolnick teaches at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, where he was founding director of the iEAR Studios.

For more information see Rolnick’s website: