192. CFAMC Listening Page – Xavier Bateta

OCTOBER 25, 2020
Xavier Bateta
La Catedral Abandonada


The inspiration of this piece came originally from some photographs of the 16th-century temple of Santiago Quechula in the middle of the river Grijalva in Chiapas, Mexico. I was overwhelmed by the image of a church in ruins in the middle of water. At the same time, during my trip to Strasbourg I visited its cathedral, which celebrated a thousand years from the beginning of its construction. I realized that in our secular age, these majestic buildings have been “abandoned.” The piece is built around C-sharp, which becomes a recurrent and essential sonority throughout the piece. C-sharp acts as “a call,” like a bell in a church. The insistency of this call at the beginning is transfigured into a delicate atmosphere at the end that tries to approximate a mysterious space. The piece is also built around specific sonorities derived from a note series, giving coherence and consistency to all the pitch material of the piece. Some passages try to create the idea of superposed sound planes, emulating the effect of “echoes,” as in the interior of a cathedral.


I am a Christian because Christ showed a new way of being in the world, the way of the supremacy of love. There is no better path in this world than loving God and loving our neighbor. In Mark 29:12 Christ says that the most important commandment is first, the Shemá: “Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One” and thus, love God with all of your being. The second is “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This love, which is antithetical to the logic of the world manifests in the following: if anyone slaps you on the right cheek turn to him the other also; if someone asks you for something, give it to him, do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you; sell everything you have and give it to the poor; if someone is hungry give her food, if someone is thirsty give him a drink, if someone is a stranger invite him in, if someone needs clothing give her clothes, if someone is sick, look after him, if someone is in prison visit that person. This is how the kingdom of Heaven propagates in the world.

Doing these things is not easy, to love, to really love… is a hard thing. If it were otherwise, the world would be Eden already. Every day, I strive to follow these words: “Deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow me.” This love of the kingdom sometimes manifests in music too, in certain moments of Bach´s B minor mass, like the Crucifixus, or the end of the St. Matthew Passion, or in the “passus” of the Credo in Beethoven´s Missa Solemnis, or in Mahler´s Adagietto of his fifth Symphony.

I hope someday to manifest this love in my music and in my actions.


: Born in Guatemala City, Xavier Beteta studied piano at the National Conservatory of Guatemala with Consuelo Medinilla. At age 18, he was awarded the first-prize at the Augusto Ardenois National Piano Competition and third-prize at the Rafael Alvarez Ovalle Composition Competition in Guatemala. He continued his piano studies in the United States with Argentinean pianist Sylvia Kersenbaum and with Russian pianist Sergei Polusmiak. He also attended master-classes with pianists Massimiliano Damerini and Daniel Rivera in Italy. Xavier has performed in different venues in the United States, Europe and Latin America and has been a soloist with the Guatemalan National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Augusto Ardenois, and the Camellia Symphony in Sacramento. As a composer, Xavier did most of his studies privately with Rodrigo Asturias. In 2013 he won the Second Place at the fourth International Antonin Dvorak Composition Competition in Prague. Xavier studied music theory at the University of Cincinnati where his thesis about the music of Rodrigo Asturias was ranked no. 4 in the National Best-Seller Dissertation List. He obtained his Ph.D. in composition at the University of California San Diego with Roger Reynolds. At UCSD he also studied with Philippe Manoury and Chinary Ung. His compositions have been performed in diverse festivals such as Festival Musica in Strasbourg, France, Darmstadt Composition Summer Courses in Germany, June in Buffalo, SICPP in Boston, Opera Theater Festival of Lucca, Italy and by ensembles such as Accroche Note, Ensemble Signal, and UCSD Palimpsest. Xavier also holds a law degree from Salmon P. Chase College of Law and his diverse interests include art law, copyright, poetry, and tango.