LA ISLA DE LAS MUÑECAS for chamber orchestra (2018)


About the music

In the winding canals of Xochimilco, south of Mexico City, is La Isla de las Muñecas—The Island of the Dolls. As the story goes, after finding a young girl who drowned under mysterious circumstances, Don Julian Santana, who lived on the island, also found a doll floating in the water. Haunted, he began to obsessively collect and hang dolls around the island in an effort to appease the spirit of the girl. People have reported these dolls moving and whispering at night, beckoning them to come onto the island. After nearly half a century of collecting dolls, Don Julian was found dead—drowned in the waters of Xochimilco. This piece considers the natural and supernatural themes of this legend to tell a story of haunting obsession and hopeless appeasement. 

La Isla de las Muñecas was both commissioned and premiered by Steven Smith and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony for their 2018 Young and Emerging Composers Concert on April 11th, 2018 at Baldwin Wallace University.




Bass Clarinet


F Horn (with straight mute)

C Trumpet (with straight mute)

Trombone, with F-trigger (with straight mute)



Strings (2 2 2 2 1)