Caracas: A Symphonic Poem to the Idea of a City


Caracas: A Symphonic Poem to the Idea of a City


Alfredo Cabrera


Program Notes

Caracas attempts to depict the different parts of a day in the city whose name it bears as title. The work makes use of a distinctive motive on the tubular bells to signal the beginning precise moments of the day.

The arrival of the morning sun is announced by the tolling bells at 6:00 a.m. telling the city its time to wake up. Slowly the city begins to move, and a once serene town becomes increasingly chaotic. Once again the bells toll to announce its 12:00 p.m. With a city that is still at its peak there is only one place to look for serenity, North. El Avila, the mountain that flanks the city across its north side, is an oasis of calmness. The citizens of Caracas, or caraqueños as called by their fellow Venezuelans, hold this mountain high as a sanctuary for peace and unity in a city divided by social stigmas and political prejudices. This section depicts the mountains peaks and curves which seem to transform into the most fantastic shapes as the sun sets over the mountains in the west. The bells toll again to announce 6:00 p.m. and the city’s Latin identity emerges with a bolero using the first theme from the opening section of the piece. Caraqueños love a party, but in a city with a declining police force and one of the highest crime rates in the world, there’s nothing to expect but even more chaos, as the veil of the night covers those who fall out of the boundaries of the law. Within the raging anarchy the bells toll to announce midnight. The people of Caracas seek refuge in their home waiting for the Sun to rise and bring light to the darkness and lawlessness that fills the city. The final section of the work represents the sunrise, and when the light finally appears on the horizon the bells toll one last time to announce the start of a new day, it's 6:00 a.m. The work makes use of a the opening notes of the Venezuelan National Anthem after the tolling of the bells. It is part of the law in the country that every radio and TV station must play the national anthem at noon and midnight. Although the tune is used throughout the piece, the sections of the piece representing the time from 12:00 pm. to 6:00 p.m., and 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. employ the tune more prominently. The theme can be heard right after the bells toll at 6:00 a.m. played by the trumpet in the opening of the work.

Caracas is not a mere image of the city where I grew up but rather the idea of a city that can overcome social stigmas, police conflicts, economic calamities, and violence like never before in its history. It is a city that can survive all that and still stand tall every morning, with people full of hope that one day their beloved Caracas will blossom once again into the beautiful flower that they know it used to be and that will be again.

This work was premiered at 2017-2018 Philharmonia No. 2 on October 21, 2017.


Alfredo Cabrera is an accomplished composer, pianist, and violinist from Caracas, Venezuela. He started his musical education at age 3 and started playing the violin at age 7.

When Cabrera turned 8, he was accepted to Escuela Experimental de Música Manuel Alberto Lopez (EEMMAL) where he studied the violin. At age 13, he began studying the piano and started taking violin lessons from Ariadna Ramirez, the principal second violin of the Venezuelan National Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2013, Cabrera began studying musical composition with Jose Baroni, a Venezuelan composer and scholar, and a winner of the Klang Der Welt composition prize from the Berlin Opera House in 2011. Cabrera has received many awards and recognitions, including the award for The Artist of the Future in 2012 and 2013, from El Hatillo municipality in Caracas. He has participated in the violin master classes with Simon Goyo, Virgine Robilliard and Netanel Draiblate, and the composers David Noon, Ellen Zwillich, and Eric Ewazen. Cabrera's musical style is defined by the use of polystylistic and programmatic elements. The music of Alfred Schnittke, Stravinsky, and Debussy have deeply influenced his writing style. His ability to blend Latin American rhythms with classical sounds and forms has been recognized as a defining element of his music by musicians from all over the world. Cabrera currently studies music composition with Dr. Thomas McKinley, and he is expecting to earn the Bachelor of Music in Composition in 2018. Caracas: A Symphonic Poem to the Idea of a City is Cabrera's first orchestral work, which earned him the first place on Lynn University Conservatory of Music Composition Competition in 2017.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Caracas: A Symphonic Poem to the Idea of a City