Héctor Armienta, a nationally recognized composer, focuses on creating work that explores the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural experience. His awards and commissions include those from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts International, Opera Pacific, the Pacific Symphony, Opera Southwest, Oakland East Bay Symphony, and Western Stage Theater. His work for orchestra, theater, and opera has received support from four NEA grants in artistic excellence.
As an opera and music theater composer, he draws on stories and music that represent his bi-cultural roots. His music theater trilogy, Aguas Ancestrales/Ancient Waters, is such an example. Inspired by the life of Mr. Armienta’s grandmother, the trilogy draws upon the natural and spiritual element of water. Parts of the trilogy have been performed by Opera Pacific, Western Stage Theater, The York Theater in New York, Philadelphia’s Center City Opera, and most recently in Barcelona Spain.
Cuentos de Peregrinacion/Tales of Pilgrimage, which includes text based on real-life experiences of those living the East San Jose community, premiered in San Jose in March 2014 and subsequently in Guadalajara’s Teatro Degollado. It was also featured at the the 2015 Opera America conference in Washington D.C.
Upcoming projects include a new opera based on Rudolfo Anaya's epic novel, Bless Me, Ultima. Opera Southwest, in collaboration with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, will premiere the work in 2018.
Mr. Armienta is also the founder and director of Opera Cultura, whose mission is to explore music theater and opera through a cross-cultural lens. He holds a BM degree in composition from California Institute of the Arts and an MM degree in composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Composer - Librettist - Pianist
I’m neither Mexican or American, but Mexican-American. Like my work, I exist in and in between these two cultural worlds. Drawing on my training as a classical composer, my mission is to reinvent classical musical forms by incorporating music from both sides of the border.
Whether it be Mariachi, music Azteca, or corridos ( folk songs) from the fields of the central California, you can find elements of this music in much of my work. This approach allows me and others to explore what it means to be a Mexican American through a new lens - classical music and opera.
With La Llorona - A Musical Drama, for example I retold the folk legend of the Mexican Medea that is known from the US to the southern stage of Chiapas Mexico. In Postcards in México, a work for orchestra, I showcased and highlighted the musical landscape of México. Other works, like Bless Me Ultima - A Mexican American Opera, brought novelist Rudolfo Anaya’s epic novel to the operatic stage
My entire work is part of my self exploration of cultural identity but If I was asked what I hope to be my legacy, I’d answer, “T o give voice to my community.”