In the middle of the miserable winter of '96 Michael Tilson Thomas invited me to Miami to help prepare a program on Villa-Lobos music with the New World Symphony Orchestra.

When I got there, I found him sitting on a swimming pool of musical sheets. He was having trouble with a complicated transition from violas to violins. There were so many notes written on the paper he showed me that it seemed as if thousands of dead flies were laying on the music sheet.

My immediate reaction was to play the berimbau and sing the simple Brazilian folk melody that Villa-Lobos had based his composition on, and so I had the idea of developing a work based on the sources Villa-Lobos used in his music, exploring the various percussion elements predominant throughout his work.

Only a man of strange appetites like John Zorn (may God keep him like that), could give me the courage to make this idea come alive. As for Villa, if he turns over in his grave and throws up dust, I'm sorry. He is a dead genius, I am a live idiot."

 
 

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