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."