California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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Student Composer Inspired by Folk Music

Andres Luz, 37, is a second-year music major here at CSU East Bay. Though he is only completing his first year in composition, he has already accomplished a lot.

Throughout the course of the school year, Luz has composed an 18-minute ensemble piece called “Bulacan Polymorphic.” His piece is based on a Filipino folk song called “Magbabakya” which is about wooden shoe makers helping each other out and making life more joyful.

Luz described how the piece contains two narratives.

One narrative is emphasized through the title alone. Luz’s interpretation of the folk song is called “Bulacan Polymorphic” because it hails from the Bulacan province. The piece incorporates a wide range of emotions: despair, epiphany, playfulness, anger, nostalgia, and celebration. It reflects off emotions one would feel when trying to figure something out (whether about themselves or something else).

When the piece is performed, a wide variety of instruments are used to play it, including trumpets, flutes, saxophones, a harp, a piano, a wooden xylophone, and more.

The other narrative the piece contains has a more personal meaning to Luz. Though he was born in the Philippines, he and his family moved to the United States when he was six years old and hasn’t been back since then. When he discovered “Magbabakya” in the Daly City Peninsula Library last year, he saw re-inventing the piece as a way of exploring his heritage and identity.

“As a Filipino-American, we don’t know about our own culture from over there,” Luz explained. “I know it from what was brought over here. So when I came across this folk song from the Philippines, I recognized it as a Filipino song, but how does it relate to me? There’s some sort of disconnect on where we come from and where we are now.

“So basically, the emotions parallel what one would experience when they come across something about themselves which they never knew.”

The emotions he referred to are the ones explored in “Bulacan Polymorphic.” That’s what Luz identifies as the beauty of the composition; the sense of self discovery.

He has worked long and hard on the piece, and although the piece was originally intended to be five minutes long, “the ideas just kept coming,” said Luz.

Any spare minute he had and even during winter break and spring break, he would be found in the Music Building, working on “Bulacan Polymorphic.”

Luz is very grateful for the support of the Music Department staff that has been encouraging him.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the music faculty and staff here,” he said. “They’ve been very supportive from the beginning, and usually an opportunity like this wouldn’t have been extended to someone in their first year in composition, but I have the support of my professor.”

As far as future compositions go, Luz will follow the same vein and get inspiration from Filipino folklore. He also plans to study more Filipino folklore and poetry for more ideas to emerge.

Luz is premiering “Bulacan Polymorphic” at the Orchestra dB concert on Friday June 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall in the Music Building.

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California State University East Bay
Student Composer Inspired by Folk Music