Costa Rican composer and guitarist Alejandro Cardona comes from an artistic, musical and literary family: both his great grandfather –and namesake– Alejandro Cardona Llorenz and his grandfather Ismael Cardona Valverde were composers. He started very young playing diverse popular and traditional musics, and began studying composition as a teenager with the Argentine composer Luis Jorge González. He has degrees from Harvard University (where he studied with Leon Kirchner, Ivan Tcherepnin and Curt Cacioppo), the Utrecht School of the Arts (masters) and the Facultad de Música of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (doctorate). Cardona has lived and worked over the last 39 years mostly in Costa Rica and Mexico. He is a professor of theory and composition at the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica. He is also active as an electric guitarist, performing his own mixed electroacustic works and as the founder and musical director of the contemporary Latin American blues band Calacas Blues.
As a composer he has participated actively in various forums and festivals such as: Foro de Compositores del Caribe, Foro Internacional de Música Nueva “Manuel Enríquez” (México), Festival Latinoamericano de Música (Venezuela), World Music Days, Festival Internacional Cervantino, Festival Iberoamericano de las Artes (Puerto Rico), Focus Festival (New York), Klangspuren Festival (Austria), Transart Festival (Italia), International Festival for Contemporary Music “Warsaw Autumn” (Polonia), among others. His music has been performed and recorded in Latin America, North America and Europe by numerous ensembles and orchestras, including Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Cuarteto José White, Lydian String Quartet, Quinteto de Alientos de la Ciudad de México, ONIX Ensamble, Entrequatre guitar quartet (España), Trío Puelli (Brasil), New Juilliard Ensamble (EE.UU.), Orquesta Experimental de Instrumentos Nativos (Bolivia), National Symphony Orchestras of Costa Rica, México, El Salvador and Columbia, Orquesta Simón Bolívar of Venezuela, ALEA III of Boston University.
He is founder of the Editorial Nuestra Cultura that publishes his music and books. In 2000 he published the second and bilingual edition of the book ¿Dónde está la Má Teodora? (musical sight-reading based on African-rooted rhythmic principles), of which he is co-author. In 2019 he published three new books (only in spanish) on harmony, composition and a series of analytical essays on Latin American music. His works are also published by Gerb. Stark Musikverlag Leipzig GbR.
He has composed music for dance (primarily for the Costa Rican choreographer Vicky Cortés), theatre (collaborating with Costa Rican director Juan Fernando Cerdas), and film.
In Costa Rica he has been awarded the National Prize “Aquileo J. Echeverría” for musical composition on four occasions (1999, 2000, 2002, 2014) for the works Códices, Bajo Sombras, En el eco de las paredes y Cantos Enterrados.
His recent premieres include Rek-Rap Selim (y otros brebajes) for trumpet, strings and percussion, Pachakuti, written for the Orquesta Experimental de Instrumentos Nativos (OEIN) from Bolivia, and Palenque (toques cimarrones) for multi-percussionist and electronics. His orchestral work, Son Mestizo II, was part of the Latin Grammy winning album Música de Compositores Costarricenses, Vol. 2, recorded by Costa Rica’s National Symphony Orchestra. Recordings of his contemporary music and with Calacas Blues can be heard through the following links: