Destination: Xàtiva

The flag of Xàtiva.

…in which David comes up for air amidst working on his Master’s thesis.

¡Ha pasado mucho tiempo!

It has been a long time, hasn’t it? Since I last posted, I finished my second semester coursework, decided on a thesis-level composition project, and recorded alongside my classmates at AIR Studios, which involved me conducting a 54-piece orchestra comprised of some of the best freelance musicians in London. We have just finished our third week of the final semester of the Master’s degree, which sees me working on a written dissertation analyzing the music of Princess Mononoke while taking a course on how to use Ableton Live.

That’s the short version of where I’ve been these past several weeks, anyway.

Before I release the long-awaited London update, however, I promised that I would share pictures from my excursion to Xàtiva in April. Lamenting not having taken many opportunities since coming to Spain to leave the city of Valencia, I was really feeling my wanderlust and love of history overtaking me. In lieu of making a more significant trip during Spring Break, I opted to spend an afternoon in the ancient castle town of Xàtiva, a short train ride away from Valencia. In addition to Xàtiva being famous for its hilltop castle, it is renowned for being the birthplace of Roderic Llançol i de Borja, also known as Rodrigo Borgia, who would become Pope Alexander VI (the subject of The Borgias).

The man himself.

The hike up from the town towards the castle offers some beautiful views in both directions:

Looking up at the castle from halfway up the hill.

The view down towards the town from halfway up the hill prominently features the Iglesia Colegio, also known as “La Seu.”

Xàtiva Castle (el Castell de Xàtiva) itself, having been built and rebuilt over the course of over a thousand years, is actually comprised of two keeps (castells), which still retains great portions of its Iberian and Moorish-Roman architecture, found in its lower (Menor) and upper (Major) castles, respectively.

The view of the Castell Menor, across the ridge from the Castell Major.

The view of the Castell Major, across the ridge from the Castell Menor.

Now more of a tourist attraction than a military fortification, the castle features exhibits on the Borja family, the history and construction of the castle, and castle life during periods of war and peace, featuring examples of arms, armour, artifacts, musical instruments, and more, illustrating — among other things — the dichotomy and conflict between Moors and Christians that shaped the Valencian region over a period of centuries.

Plus, what adventure would be complete without a little dungeon crawl?

All in all, my jaunt to Xàtiva was a welcome change of scenery, and getting my castle on may have given me a little inspiration for the next piece that I wrote. Stay tuned, faithful readers, for more music and the long-awaited update about my trip to London and my recording at AIR Studios. I will be releasing a selection of works written during the second semester, which, as I mentioned previously, shifted the balance of composition towards electronic production, synth scoring, and greater use of MIDI. Check back here — and specifically, under the Composer tab — starting this coming Monday, June 16, for the Countdown to Graduation – Second Semester Collection.

Xàtiva, as seen from the Castell Menor.

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