D'Arcy Reynolds


Ajijic Composer Residency

By Jesus Lopez Vega

My new project is based in Ajijic, Mexico, and will draw upon indigenous music, plain song chant, and other musical influences that came to Mexico from Spain, Africa, and Cuba.

The development of this new composition will be similar to the  process that I used to create Cloven Dreams,  which is based on South African field recordings and visual imagery from Helen Martin’s Owl House.

In Ajijic, I will be collaborating with two local indigenous artists, Antonio and Jesus Lopez Vega, whose family has been in the Lake Chapala region for 500 years. The piece will integrate the legends and history of Mexico as depicted in the Vega’s art, along with Mexican and contemporary musical influences. The storyline of the piece will include the present-day environmental degradation of the Lake Chapala region and its impact on the indigenous people of the area.

Jesus Lopez Vega works in varied media , and is particularly known for his murals in Ajijic. He is also creating an extraordinary new work, reviewing and illustrating  the history of the indigenous people, and the migration patterns and cultural influences of the Toltecs and Aztecs. His work examines both the factual history and the various legends, in an extensive Spanish translation from materials based on the Nahua codex. Each page is handwritten in Spanish with his beautiful illustrations woven amongst the text. Jesus is hoping to publish this sweeping historical work in 2031, the 500th anniversary of Ajijic’s founding.

Antonio Lopez Vega lives at the La Cochera Cultural Center in Ajijic, where he pursues his art and teaches classes (focused on local children). A particular focus of his work is Michi-Cihualli, the Goddess of the Lake, who protects the lands around Lake Chapala. This legend is celebrated each year at La Cochera Cultural Center.

Musical sources in Ajijic area will include the well-known violinist, Juanpi Medeles, University of Guadalajara ethnomusicologist, Professor Ernesto Cano, and Ajijic percussionist, Topiltzin Borsegui.

The story of Mexico is so similar to other colonized nations. The indigenous people of Mexico were varied and prosperous prior to the invasion of Cortez in 1519. Through  alliances with a faction of locals, the Spanish conquered Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) in 1521.

The Spanish brought Catholicism and  missionaries (Franciscan friars) to Mexico to convert the native population. The friars studied the Aztec language, Nahuatl,  and taught Catholicism, plain song, polyphonic, music, and European instruments.

The Aztecs and Mayans already had a rich musical tradition integrating poetry, song, rattles, drums, and flutes. The ancient Nahua believed that song embodied divine breath, a view evidenced in the myths that are depicted in pictographs.

The concept of mestizaje (mixture) of racial, social, and musical has long been celebrated in Mexico, and it is quite extraordinary that the indigenous people were conversant in both their own musical traditions and the European music of the time.

As the years went by, there were many artistic influences that came into Mexico, including Spanish, Cuban, and African music. The European wind band tradition expanded to include 19th century Cuban dance form, the danzon.  These and other Spanish and African influences combined to create unique Mexican music that evolved into the banda and the mariachi.

Latin Chamber Music

This Latin fusion chamber music is on my new CD, Latin Threads, available on the recordings page.

Tangria, Tango Suite for Piano Trio (2018)
Beni Shinohara, violin
Victoria Ehrlich, cello
Amy Zanrosso, piano

Baldosa Floja (2019)
Composed by Florindo Sassone
Arranged by D’Arcy Reynolds

Beni Shinohara, violin
Victoria Ehrlich, cello
D’Arcy Reynolds, piano

Jardín Cubano for Cello and Piano (2017)
Victoria Ehrlich, cello
D’Arcy Reynolds, piano

Latin Carnival for Cello and Piano (2018)
Victoria Ehrlich, cello
D’Arcy Reynolds, piano

Piano Solos & Duets

The past few years, I’ve been composing more piano solos and duets, and I hope to publish a volume of piano solos in 2026.

Interplay (2021)
Performed by D’Arcy Reynolds

Satin Doll for Piano Duet
Composed by Duke Ellington
Arranged by D’Arcy Reynolds
Performed by D’Arcy Reynolds and Mia R.

Wild Goat Bounce for Piano Solo (2023)
D’Arcy Reynolds, piano