Joaquín Orellana: Groundbreaking Guatemalan Sound Artist

Among the most influential living members of Latin America’s musical avant-garde, for more than fifty years, Joaquín Orellana has been building unusual, sound sculptures -- útiles sonoros, or "sound utensils."


Avant-garde music isn't my usual go-to genre, but I was amazed by the stunning instruments created by Joaquín Orellana. Take a look, and listen!

Preserving the Little-Known Works of a Groundbreaking Guatemalan Sound Artist - “His work portrays the linguistic mosaic of Guatemala, in which there is a great diversity of indigenous languages...”
Joaquín M. Orellana - Profile of his career on the Composers Of Mexico and Guatemala website.
Utiles Sonoros: Joaquín Orellana - Take an 8-minute musical tour as Orellana demonstrates the unique sounds produced by the instruments he has created.
Joaquín Orellana: Ramajes de una Marimba Imaginaria - Música Contemporánea guatemalteca (Branches of an Imaginary Marimba - Guatemalan Contemporary Music) - In this 15-minute performance, five of Orellana's experimental works explore new uses of the marimba, often considered Guatemala's national instrument.
Un Dia Con Joaquín Orellana: Imbaluna - Hear the artist talk about his instruments and music in this 17-minute mini-documentary. Spanish, with English subtitles.
Sinfonía Desde el III Mundo (Symphony from the Third World) - The artist's composition is performed by Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Guatemala (National Symphony Orchestra of Guatemala), including an orchestral section of Orellana's instruments and choral group.
Joaquín Orellana: The Spine of Music (January 20-March 5, 2021) - The first exhibition of the composer’s útiles sonoros in the United States, sponsored by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, connects Orellana's work with that of artists Carlos Amorales, María Adela Díaz, Akira Ikezoe, and Alberto Rodríguez Collía, each of whom has spent time with the composer and created work related to his practice. As a part of this project, Americas Society has commissioned a new score by Orellana, Efluvios y puntos, which will premiere at Americas Society.