Canto de Todes
The Harold J. Miossi Gallery at Cuesta College is pleased to present Dorian Wood's Canto de Todes, a community-oriented project that explores the potential of music as a conduit for social change. This 12-hour composition is influenced by folk, popular, and experimental music, divided into three movements, and intended to exist as a long durational performance.
About Canto de Todes
Canto de Todes is a community-oriented project exploring the potential of music as a conduit for social change. It is a 12-hour composition influenced by folk, popular and experimental music, and divided into three movements. It is intended to exist as a long durational performance, in which the second movement is a 10-hour pre-recorded piece that unfolds through multiple channels across the length and breadth of a large space.
Says Wood: “Since as far back as I can remember, I have been obsessed with infecting spaces, with my brownness, with my fatness with my overall individuality, all with the purpose of representing the often-marginalized communities I pertain to—at times referred to and treated as ‘infestations’ or ‘infections’—with the urgency to create and support spaces in which we can all feel welcome.”
Born in Los Angeles, of Costa Rican-Nicaraguan parents, Wood began playing piano at the age of 4, under the guidance of their grandfather, Calasanz Alvarez, a classical and jazz pianist who had enjoyed success in Costa Rica. The name Canto de Todes—Spanish for “Song of Everyone”—is taken from a song by the late Chilean singer-songwriter Violeta Parra. “Canto de Todes is an ode to the folk music I was brought up listening to,” says Wood. “The idea that music could simultaneously provide comfort and inspire social change has always excited me. The connections that artists like Violeta Parra, Victor Jara, Mercedes Sosa and Inti-Illimani made with their communities was crucial in their radical mass uprisings against oppression, and also unjustly put the lives of these artists in danger.”
The first and third movements of Canto de Todes are hour-long chamber pieces, while the second movement is a 10-hour prerecorded composition comprised of several layers of Wood’s voice, creating an immersive, meditative and at times challenging environment for people to enter, experience and engage.
Wood began developing Canto de Todes in 2019 during an artist’s residency in Zaragoza, Spain, six months before the Covid-19 pandemic. Says Dorian: “I was invited by an organization called FUGA to create new work at Etopia, Centro de Arte y Tecnología. I recorded dozens of layers of my voice to create an initial four-hour aural panorama. I was happily surprised to witness people remain in the space for long periods of time during those four hours. This became the seed for what Canto de Todes is today.” In 2020, Wood received a Creative Capital award, which allowed them to fully realize this project.
In the final hour of the work is Movement III, a cantata for three voices, featuring Wood and vocalists Carmina Escobar and Roco Córdova. The cantata is a dream-like narrative piece about Wood’s childhood home in Los Angeles, and the 30+ years their family spent there after emigrating from Costa Rica. It is the project’s culmination; a tribute to the artist’s family, bringing this inspired journey full circle.
Says Wood: “My long-term goal with Canto de Todes is to tour it around the world, curating each presentation to incorporate collaborations with local artists whom we invite to permanently incorporate their respective visions into the body of this evolving piece.”
Wood also intends to bring Canto de Todes to a wide variety of spaces. “It will continue to grow and mutate with every incarnation, running parallel to the times we’re living in and impacted by every single collaborator I am blessed to work with. This project is an apex in my ongoing practice of exploring mindfulness through art as a means of strengthening communities and alliances, especially in times of extreme divisiveness and uncertainty. My dream would be that five, 10, 20 years from now, audiences will enter their own versions of Canto de Todes with the curiosity of experiencing something new and of the moment, custom-modified for their community, and informed by accumulated layers of ancestral energy.”