Colleagues at Rambert were saddened to hear that the pianist, conductor and composer Carlos Miranda, who worked extensively with the company in the 1970s, died this week at his home in Spain.
Carlos was born in Santiago, Chile, where he studied at the Conservatoire of Music. In 1971 he won a British Council Scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied piano, composition and conducting. He joined Ballet Rambert in 1974 as Assistant Music Director and Company Pianist, writing a number of scores for dance and concerts with the Mercury Ensemble (a forerunner of the Rambert Orchestra) and collaborating with choreographers Norman Morrice, John Chesworth and Christopher Bruce.
In 1975 he began a long-term association with Lindsay Kemp when they collaborated on Parades Gone By for Rambert. In 1977, Carlos, Lindsay and Christopher Bruce made Cruel Garden, a full-length work which opened at the Roundhouse and became one of Rambert’s biggest successes of the decade. A version for BBC television followed and won the Prix Italia in 1982.
Carlos left Rambert in 1978 and continued to work in dance, theatre and film, including with independent filmmakers Celestino Coronado, Manuel Huerga and Félix Rotaeta. He composed and conducted music for the opening ceremony of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, and completed commissions for BBC Radio 3 and the City of London Festival. In recent years he made his home in the Andalusian countryside, appearing sporadically as film actor and working on digital video projects. He returned to Rambert to work on a revival of Cruel Garden in 1998, and published his redigitised version of the BBC film last year.
Tribute from Christopher Bruce
In the form of a personal letter to Lindsay Kemp on 27 November
I heard the news about Carlos a few hours before the opening night in Edinburgh where I was attending the revival of Ghost Dances. As I am sure you were, I was stunned by the news, but went through the process of rehearsals on automatic pilot. I guess all of us itinerant players in this strange and wonderful world of the theatre have continued on our way despite everything life throws at us. It is all we can do, even in the face of death. One of our beloved colleagues falls and we carry on knowing he or she would have done the same.
Carlos was a wonderful artist, colleague and friend to us all, especially within his two main homes, The Lindsay Kemp Company and Rambert. But, of course, it was his magnificent work on Cruel Garden that brought the three of us so close. From the beginning it was not just his encyclopaedic musical knowledge, but his knowledge of Spain, its history and culture and, particularly, the work of Garcia Lorca. I think, throughout those early days when we were putting our ideas together, it was Carlos, with his endless supply of LPs and his passionate but calm approach to the subject who held us together as we created a narrative line for our work and, while you and I battled it out in the rehearsal room and theatre, it was Carlos, a sane and grounded influence, who calmly pulled us through the creation. Then, with his selection of existing music and his own magnificent writing and recitations of the Lorca poetry, he cast a spell right from the beginning of the production and made it practically a one man show as far as the soundscape was concerned. Finally, came his wonderful playing which was such an inspiration to dance to. I cannot listen to Cafe de Chinitas without becoming overwhelmed by the atmosphere it creates and the memories it evokes of so many performances over the years.
The day after my premiere in Edinburgh Marian and I were out walking in that beautiful city. Carlos was continually filling any space left in my head and, suddenly, having held my emotions together for 24 hours, I was overwhelmed and broke down. It was impossible to stem the flow of tears and I sobbed for what seemed ages, leaning against a stone wall and railings while Marian held me. This is a most uncommon side of me as I have a tendency toward the stiff-upper-lip condition. But Carlos was not just a fine musician and composer, he was just such a lovely man and I am so going to to miss him.
I realise Carlos’ career was much greater than his time together with us both, but this special, mad happening which brought us all together was truly a phenomenal moment in our lives and serves as a jewel to hold on to while we grieve – and, as you were even closer to him than I was, I know your grief will be even greater than mine.
My last time with Carlos was when Marian and I visited him in Granada a few years ago. We have wonderful photographs of him with big cuddly dogs and mountains in the background. What a full and fulfilling life he had and what more could any artist wish for?
Marian and I send our love,
Paul Hoskins, Rambert’s Music Director, writes: “I was deeply saddened to hear this news, especially as it came on the day of the premiere of the Ghost Dances revival, as I was working with Christopher Bruce. Early in my career here, I worked closely with Carlos, Chris and Lindsay on our revival of Cruel Garden. I remember Carlos fondly as a serious musician and charming man. My condolences go especially to all those who knew him well.”
Dancers – an experimental 1978 film about a day-in-the-life of a Rambert dancer, with original music by Carlos Miranda, is available to watch on BFI Player.
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