MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayan artist Juanita Fernandez plans to present “Pajaros,” a musical project inspired by South America’s birds, on May 14 at Montevideo’s Teatro Solis.
Fernandez said in an interview with EFE that the seed was sown for the project when, during the insomnia she suffered while getting used to living in Buenos Aires, far from the Uruguayan countryside where she grew up, she heard a thrush singing.
From that moment on, Fernandez said, she began to listen “in a different way” to birds singing and incorporated their avian arias into her compositions.
“Later on, when I was about to finish my university course in music, I studied a composer who had done studies of birdsong, Olivier Messiaen of the French avant-garde, and began to be attracted by the idea,” the musician said.
Fernandez then decided to go further and begin to study the different birds of her surroundings, a process that took her 10 years and through which she began to discover how the singing of birds has influenced the music we know.
“Birdsong begins to suggest a whole landscape or feeling...Man lives with that, begins to adopt it and sing that way...That was one of my most beautiful discoveries,” the artist said.
In the process, the musician, who dedicated months and years of study to each bird, began to put together the “Pajaros” album that gave the theater show its name. She did say, however, that it was not easy to fit the pieces together, since they were based on birds as different from each other as the thrush, the rufous hornero, the southern lapwing and the swift.
Fernandez said she had to take many “aesthetic decisions” to arrive at “Pajaros,” a work that incorporates all kinds of sounds, from traditional double bass, guitar and voice to synthesizers, objects submerged in water and galvanized sheet metal.
One of the decisions, according to the artist, was to avoid “commonplaces” like imitating the singing of the birds, and added that while the birds are present in the show through certain recordings, that will be “just one more source of sound.”
The artist said that of all the birds present in her work, the one she most identifies with is the white monjita, a little bird that has as one of its characteristics spending most of its life alone.