About a month ago, I recorded 13 Ejercicios con niveles de dificultad written by Blanca Layana Gómez. Back in summer of 2022, I came across Blanca and her works when I was writing an article about living Latina composers. I like the simplicity of her works, but some of the unexpected dissonances in her music equally draw my attention. I started to try to connect with Blanca. I tried, but I could not get a hold of her. I blamed that on my “google-translated” Spanish. Finally, a few weeks later, I talked to Dr. Ketty Wong, a musicologist and a lecturer at the University of Kansas. To my surprise, she is a good friend of Blanca. When Ketty returned to Lawrence, Kansas, after she visited Ecuador, she brought me Blanca’s compositions. Since then, I decided to learn and record the music written by Blanca.
And Blanca and I have been connected!
Blanca Layana Gómez’s Music Education
Blanca Layana Gómez is a female Ecuadorian composer. Her musical journey began when she taught herself to play the guitar by ear when she was young. She became interested in writing songs when she was 12 years old. Eventually pursued formal music studies and later, she received a composition degree at the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in Kiev, Ukraine. Her teachers included Genady Lyashenko, Valery Koslov, and Yakov Gubanov, who was a disciple of Dimitri Shostakovich. When she returned to Ecuador, she became a professor of Harmony at the Neumane Conservatory (Guayaquil), where she also served as a director of the Chamber Orchestra and a youth choir. She was also a professor of music at the Catholic University (Guayaquil).
Blanca’s Important Compositions
Blanca’s compositions reveal the beauty of Ecuadorian culture. Her Symphonic Picture Guayas y Quil and the Equatorial Poem for strings were awarded by the M. I. Municipality of Guayaquil. 13 Ejercicios con niveles de dificultad are collected in her Expresiones del piano (2016). Most of the pieces were written in 2015. The 13 pieces are suitable for teaching and even arranged in order of difficulty. The short length of each piece reflects the different feelings and atmospheres Blanca tried to illustrate. There are a few notes from Blanca that I want to share with our readers here in this article.
Paseo al atardecer (Sunset Walk) has become a remembrance of Omar, Blanca’s husband, who passed away in 2020. The piece reflects the peaceful atmosphere when her husband walked with their puppy, Peppe.
La espera (The wait) is about Blanca and her son visiting her mom. Blanca imagined the feeling of her mother when she was waiting for her daughter (Blanca) and her grandson to visit her.
En una mañana asoleada (On a sunny morning), according to Blanca, brought her many hidden happy memories. The music used different intervals to illustrate her love of God and her happiness after visiting friends.
In La gata parida (the cat given birth), Blanca was inspired by a strayed cat. The cat lived at the stairs by her house and later gave birth there as well. Blanca and her family became the cats’ family and took care of the cat and her babies. Blanca incorporated chromaticism in this piece.
As a pianist who earned a doctoral degree in piano performance and pedagogy, I have always wanted to be able to perform and share my discovery of “less-known” repertoire with a broader audience. I am more than honored to be given the permission by Blanca to play and record her music and share her musical and life journey with more people.
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