A Canadian of Cuban origin, Luis Ernesto Peña Laguna was born in Las Tunas, a small city located between Camagüey and Holguín and nicknamed the Ciudad de las Esculturas (the city of sculptures). Excelling at music studies, he earned several degrees in Cuba, most notably in choral and orchestral conducting, musical education and composition. In 2017, he received a master’s degree in composition from the Université de Montréal.
Peña has had a brilliant career as a composer and choral conductor in Canada and abroad. His wide-ranging catalogue includes orchestral compositions, chamber music and choral works. He has also made more experimental forays into the electro-acoustical, theatrical, choreographic and multidisciplinary worlds. Active as an educator, teacher and speaker, he has authored a number of musicological articles and works.
Last year, the Orchestre Métropolitain commissioned Peña to write a choral work in tribute to the victims of COVID-19 and intended to be programmed with Brahms’ German Requiem. In composing Oraison, Peña was inspired by the poem Danse humaine specially written for the occasion by French author Jean-A. Massard (born 2000). As the composer explains:
“ … there’s a word that’s very present in my composition and that word is gestes [gestures]. It’s a word that resonates with me when I think about the pandemic and how Canada and specifically Quebec managed it. The composition ends just like it begins… a way of representing each wave, how the pandemic is cyclic and still not over. The use of several languages (Latin, French, English and Spanish) speaks to the fact that COVID has affected the entire planet.” – Luis Ernesto Peña Laguna
© Claudio Ricignuolo
Translation by Craig Schweickert