Guitarist Jiji to premiere Auznieks' Cor at Lincoln Center's Great Performers Series

Bringing virtuosity and style to both the acoustic and electric repertoire, award-winning guitarist Jiji shows off her range in a captivating program spanning Bach to Reich.


Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer says that “we should never underestimate what a word can tell us, for language represents the previous accomplishment of thought.”

I love the root “Cor.” In Latin it refers to “heart,” hence the English word “core” as the center of one’s being. However, in Latin figuratively it also refers to soul and mind. It turns out that “courage” has the same origin. And so does conCORd: of one mind, bring into union. Take yet another route and it means to remember (reCORdor: call to mind, recollect) but in some dialectical variants it can even refer to God. I like to imagine, in a somewhat fanciful manner, that guitar strings participate in that history and that the word “cord” shares something with the etymology of “cor”: after all, Italians use “CORde per chittara” to talk about guitar strings. But how far is “chord” from “cord?” When we say “to strike a chord,” we are refering to both, “heart” and “concord,” and at times we say it to tell each other that we remember (reCORdor) something else because of a similarity.

When Jiji asked me to write her a piece, I knew I wanted it to be about being Human, that is, something essential that speaks about a condition that transcends our current time and place. For me, it entails both the Enlightenment’s Mind and the Romanticism’s Heart, and I feel that the guitar has an equal dose of both. Its heart, its strings (CORde) — at least linguistically — are closely tied to its body (CORpus) bringing together body, mind, and heart in an effortless play. After spending months with the piece, I became convinced that the other connotations of the word “Cor” were as relevant to the music: it requires a great deal of courage from the performer as well as concord among mind, body, and heart; and there is an underlying remembrance of things past. Portuguese “cor” for color, reveals the piece’s focus on varied hues of a similar harmony and the Old French “cor” that refers to a horn hints at the horn calls that summon us to witness a mind-body union later in the piece. Even Gaelic “cor” is relevant: it is a word for “condition,” “state” or even “eventuality” revealing the inevitability inherent in the musical materials.