Con Tutta Forza

Story Time: Mofongo Relleno

ExperienceAlejandro Guardia1 Comment

Happy New Year everyone!

This blog post will be a little less structured and not necessarily as educational as my past posts, but it is an opportunity for me to share some stories of my time as a musician. These will be sprinkled in between the other content. Enjoy!


The story begins during my senior year at the University of South Florida. It was my second year at USF and I had been really inspired and encouraged by my studio mates to write music for the Tuba.  In the fall of that year, I had composed and premiered Song Without Words for Tuba Quartet and I had caught the bug! I loved the process, writing a piece late at night and coming into the practice room with my friends and play it the next day. For a composer, nothing could be better.  With this reinvigorated compositional spirit I ended up writing 2 more pieces (Facade for Solo Tuba and Excursions for Tuba Quartet) and had them performed at my Euphonium performance Recital a few months later. Those pieces were very well received and I learned a lot from working with a Soloist (Rachel Matz) and the Big Boys Tuba quartet.  

After my recital, I had decided to back off a little bit before the big summer writing season and just focused on graduating and getting things ready to move back to Miami. During that semester, I only played in Wind Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Tuba Ensemble, and went to my other classes. In preparation for out final concert of the semester, my professor, the always awesome Jay Hunsberger, approached me and asked me if I had any other tuba ensemble music that we could use to fill out the program. I was really excited, but there was a problem. I hadn't written anything for Tuba much less Tuba ensemble in about 3-4 months and all of it was performed at my recital. So I did what any smart person would do and responded: "No I don't have anything, but I can try to put something together." Normally this wouldn't be too big of a deal but PLOT TWIST: the concert was about 2-3 weeks away. 

Over the next few days, I tried and tried to come up with something that would mark the occasion, my last Tuba Ensemble concert, and something that is written specifically for that ensemble that was full of friends and colleges that I've grown to know and love over the last 2 years. With that kind of pressure, nothing ended up being good enough. Then one night after playing some Donkey Kong Country 3 (it was 2011 and don't judge me) with some friends, I had Dixie Kong's stage ending guitar riff stuck in my head for hours. This inspired me to write what is now the B section of the tune and I thought, "Why not write something fun and not so serious?". I decided to write something that reflected my personality and came up with a 7\4 Latin Rock Tuba Ensemble piece. Don't ask me how that happened, it just did. The name Mofongo Relleno reflects the juxtaposed nature of it. The piece essentially wrote itself and about 2-3 hours later I had the bulk of the (if not the whole) piece written. For those of you who don't know me personally, I am fairly quiet and reserved in person but due to the duality of my being a gigging Trombone player in Miami for a majority of my 20's while still studying and engaging in my passion that is the Euphonium and Classical Music, I can be fairly loud and extreme when it comes to playing the horn. I was usually found adding lip trills, lip turns, playing things in absurd registers for fun. It was and is something enjoy just due to the craziness of it. This piece showcases that and better yet, forces my peers to do those things too! That's a win in my book. 

So after I wrote the piece in a few hours, I brought the piece to next the Tuba Ensemble rehearsal and with the exception of a couple of moans and groans from having to play Doits, Lip turns, having to listen to me play a Double F at the end, etc. it came together very well. Two weeks later we performed it as the last piece on the program and it was met with the applause of a very entertained audience. Since then, the piece has been performed a number of times in Universities around the United States. I have Jay Hunsberger to thank for not only allowing me to unleash this madness on the world but supporting my composition endeavors during my time at USF. 

Moral of the Story: Always take an opportunity to create if it is presented to you. It might seem crazy at the moment but the circumstances may push you to create something special!


If you have performed Mofongo Relleno or any of my other works, please write a comment below and let me know if you enjoyed it. I'd love to hear feedback and see where the piece has been!

You can find Mofongo Relleno in the Potenza Music link up in the menu above or though the Potenza Music Website.