“Tiempo de amor” for soprano, tenor & piano (2015)

Duration 15′

Commissioned by the 2015 Barcelona Festival of Song and director/soprano Patricia Caicedo.

Premiered on June 27, 2015, by Patricia Caicedo, soprano, Lenine Santos, tenor, and Nikos Stavlas, piano.

Texts by Ibn Zaydun and Wallada.

Tiempo de amor (Time for Love) (2015) for soprano, tenor and piano is set to texts by Andalusi poet Ibn Zaydun (1003-1071) and princess Wallada (1011-1091). Both poets were born in Cordoba at the height of the Al-Andalous culture in Spain and were known as the lovers of Cordoba, due to their passionate love relationship. The text used in this work are fragments of the letters they wrote to each other, which have come to us through Wallada in the form of poems.

This song cycle includes six songs that are sung without a break. The tenor (Ibn Zaydun) and soprano (Wallada) sing alternate songs as if it were a dialogue, sometimes questioning each other or commenting on the state of their relationship. The text of the last song are the epitaphs written in a monument in Cordoba dedicated to them.


Text by Ibn Zaydun and Wallada (in Spanish)

(Wallada writes to Ibn Zaydun)

I. “Cuando apunta la oscuridad” (When night falls) – for Soprano and Tenor

Espera mi visita cuando apunta la oscuridad

Pues opino que la noche es más encubridora de los secretos

Tengo algo contigo que si coincidiera con el sol

éste no brillaría

y si con la luna, ésta no saldría

y si con las estrellas, éstas no caminarían.


Ibn Zaydun responds:

II. “Tu amor me ha hecho célebre” (Your love has made me a celebrity) – for Tenor

Tu amor me ha hecho célebre

entre la gente

por ti se preocupa mi corazón y


cuando tú te ausentas

nadie puede consolarme y

cuando llegas todo el mundo está presente.


(spoken) Si he perdido el placer de verte,

me contentaré oyendo hablar de tí.

Si el guardian se descuida,

Me contentaré con un breve saludo.

Temo que los censores sospechen, pero

Hay plazo en el amor?


Wallada writes when Ibn Zaydun was absent:

III. “Despues de esta separación”(After this separation) – for Soprano

Acaso hay para nosotros,

después de esta separación, una salida;

puede quejarse cada uno de nosotros

de lo que ha sufrido?


Giran las noches y no veo el fin.

De nuestro distanciamiento,

ni la paciencia me libra

de la esclavitud de mi anhelo.

Riegue dios la tierra donde estés

con toda clase de lluvias copiosas.


Ibn Zaydun wrote to Wallada:

IV. “Cuando tu te uniste a mí” (When you joined me) – for Tenor

Cuando tú te uniste a mí

como se une el amor al corazón,

y te fundiste conmigo

como el alma se funde con el cuerpo,

enfureció a los detractores

el lugar que yo ocupaba en tí:

en el corazón de todo rival

arde la llama de la envidia.


After Ibn Zaydun being seduced by a slave he begged Wallada to forgive him.

He writes:

V. Desde que estás lejos de mí (Since you are away from me) for Tenor and Soprano

Desde que estas lejos de mí,

el deseo de verte consume mi corazón

y me hace lanzar torrentes de lágrimas

mis días son ahora negros y

antes, gracias a ti, mis noches eran blancas.


Wallada responds:

(spoken) Si hubieses hecho justicia

al amor que hay entre nosotros

no hubieses amado ni preferido a mi esclava

ni hubieses abandonado la belleza de la rama

cargada de frutos

ni te hubieses inclinado hacia la rama estéril

siendo asi que tu sabes que yo soy

la luna llena en el cielo,

sin embargo, te has enamorado,

por mi desgracia, de Júpiter.”


VI. Epitafio (Epitaph) (text written in the monument dedicated to them in Cordoba)

In Ibn Zaydun’s epitaph:

Ay, qué cerca estuvimos y hoy qué lejos!

Nos separó la suerte, y no hay rocío

que humedezca, resecas de deseo,

mis ardientes entrañas; pero en cambio,

de llanto mis pupilas se saturan.


In Wallada’s epitaph:

Tengo celos de mis ojos, de mi toda,

de ti mismo de tu tiempo y tu lugar.

Aún grabado tú en mis pupilas,

Mis celos nunca cesarán.

Gacelas de amor for soprano, flute & piano

Duration: 9′ 30″  Based on three poems (in Spanish) by Federico Garcia Lorca from the collections Diwan del Tamarit (1931-1934) and Canciones. Commissioned by and written for Christiane Meininger, flute; Jörg Waschinski, male soprano; and Rainer Gepp, piano. World premiere at the Zentrum for Information und Bildung in Unna, Germany. Sponsored by the American Embassy in Berlin, the Center for International Light Art in Unna (Germany) and a travel grant from the Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University.

See full concert program.
Read Concert review (in German) and in English).
I. El amor desesperado
II. Lucia Martinez
III. El amor maravilloso

Published by Hofmeister Musik Velag.

Five Poems of García Lorca for soprano, clarinet, cello and piano (1992)

Duration: 12′
Poetry by Federico Garcia Lorca in Spanish
Commissioned by the Gotham Ensemble

New York premiere at the”Village Variations” Concert Series Greenwich House Music School, New York, by the Gotham Ensemble and guest soprano Cheryl Marshall (10/8/92).

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Company.



Cinco Soledades for bass baritone and piano (1999/2004)

(Version available for lyric or dramatic baritone). Duration: 10′
Poetry by Antonio Machado in Spanish.

Premiered by baritone Jacob Cantu and the composer at the piano at Our Lady of the Lake University on February 11, 2001.

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Company.



Village Scenes for mezzo soprano and piano (2002/04)

Duration: 6′
Arrangement of the piece of the same title for soprano and piano.

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Company.


Moments of change for mezzo soprano and piano (2004/05)

Duration: 15′
Arrangement of the piece of the same title for soprano and piano.

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Company.



Village Scenes for soprano and piano (2002/04)

(version available for mezzo soprano). Duration: 6′
Poetry by the composer in Catalonian.
Written for soprano Rachel Rosales.
Premiered by Catalonian mezzo soprano Anna Alàs at COMRadio.com (Spanish radio).

Village Scenes was inspired by memories of my childhood in the early 60s. In the summers me and my parents vacationed in Ullastrell, a very small village near Terrassa (Barcelona) during four or five years. The three poems that inspired the songs were written in early October of 2002, after returning from a trip to Spain. The poetry is in my native Catalonian language.

I. El Portal: In this poem I recreate the vivid image I have of me peeling corn husks at the door of a very old “masia” (Catalonian stone-made house) with other village children. I still remember the darkness and the cold temperature inside the house – with few windows and without lighting. I remember the contrasting feelings of the coldness inside the house and the outside warmth of the sun. 

II. El Poble: Ullastrell was surrounded by fields and small hills with Mediterranean vegetation. During the summer it was so hot that everything was tinged with a golden color, a mix of dried vegetation and sunlight. My memories of Ullastrell are wam and happy like the sun that always baked the village.

III. La Pluja is inspired by the late summer stormy days. After the rain, the whole atmosphere smelled like fresh wet soil. The whole village was happy, the farmers and the animals, everybody was happy to cool off. The vegetation also breathed easier putting on a new green coat! During the summer the storms were very impressive but lasted little S?the sun was always ready to come back to bake us.

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Company.

Five Songs for soprano and piano (1986)

Duration: 15′

Poetry by Federico Garcia Lorca in Spanish 
Written for soprano Rachel Rosales 
Read NATS article New Directions: “The Inspirational Lorca” by Sharon Mabry. 
See Performance history. 

This song cycle was inspired by five poems of the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936). The poems El silencio, La luna negra, Las seis cuerdas, andClamor” are drawn from the collection Poema del Cante Jondo (1921), and La mano imposible is from El Diwan del Tamarit (1931-35). Lorca’s poetry is born from the continuous juxtaposition of contrasting and opposing symbols which attempt to negate each other. His obsession with death, which he referred to as the Spanish lover, also pervades his work. 

In I. El silencio, Lorca materializes silence by telling us to listen to it. It is the quietest song of the collection with a certain purity imparted by the modal quality of the music. 

In II. La mano imposible we are presented with a white marble-like, disembodied hand, an anxiously sought for (perhaps divine) hand that protects the dying. The anxiety of the search for this imposible hand is represented musically by questionning ascending melodies that pause in their climax, asking for answers. The accompaniment is highly chromatic and the meters shift constantly. Towards the end, the poem’s atmosphere of anxiety lessens and there is a glimpse of accepting the impossibility of finding such a hand, even though, as Lorca says, “nothing else matters” except that hand. The song ends with a peaceful and consonant duet or interweaving lines between the soprano and the piano. 

Some symbols in Lorca’s work have dual meanings: the moon, for example, represents both death threats (personified by women that anchant men and lead them to death) and eroticism. In III. La luna negra , the “Black moon” is a terrible presence and a threat to the unwary. The music is given a floating quality by the lack of a tonal center and by the continuous trills in the piano part which surround the soprano melody. The eerie character of the music sustains the ambiance of magic and incantation that permeates Lorca’s poem.

In IV. Las seis cuerdas (“The six strings”) Lorca glorifies the guitar. This instrument is to Lorca a symbol of remembrance of lost souls and a connection with the dead; “the guitar makes dreams weep” and lets the sobbing of lost souls escape through its black wooden well. As in the previous songs, melodic dissonance in the vocal lines and piano writing portrays the anguish of the text.

Finally, in V. Clamor, Lorca personifies Death. We see her walking, crowned with withered citrus blossoms, and singing a song with her vihuela, while the church bells toll. Musically, the piece begins with the bell-tolling in the piano that sets up the appearance of Death (represented by a long and torturous chromatic melody in the soprano libe that starts in the low register, and slowly unravels as it reaches the higher register.) The melody’s accompaniment in the piano is dissonant, syncopated and rhythmically insistent.

Published by Southern Music Company. 


Five musings for soprano and piano (2002)

Duration: 15′

Poetry by the composer in Spanish.
Written for soprano Rachel Rosales.
Performance history.

In 1992, the casual meeting of an old friend in a busy city street prompted the revival of many memories, some going back to my teenage years. These intense feelings were translated to poetry in the span of two days in the form of eight poems. Five of these poems are set to music in this collection:

I. Deseo (Desire) is a passionate poem that juxtaposes and contrasts words such as “hardness” and “soft” “cold” and “wam” , “resolution” and “serene”, implying the extreme feelings that desire can bring.

II.Definición(Definition) is the remembrance of a conversation held in the tight surroundings of a car by two inexperienced teenagers. Two beings who don’t know who they are and expect the other to define them. Musically is the most dissonant of the set. Three chromatic note figures in ostinato portray the intense tension and atmosphere inside of the car.

III.El Pasado Perdido (The Lost Past) is the most impressionistic of the set with constant trills in the piano part imparting a sense of mystery and ambiguous reality and dream.

IV.Calor (Heat) is about oppressive heat and nervousness experienced by two beings having a quiet conversation in a windowless tight room. The heat makes breathing difficult. The conversation is at times distracted by the reflection of blue eyes in the mirror. This song is very sustained with a steady and continuous accompaniment of eighth-notes in the piano that don’t subside until the central section where the syncopated rhythm paints the panted breath and the blue reflections that melt in the suffocating heat.

V.El Sol (The Sun) is a sensuous poem that praises the sun’s warmth and its power to penetrate the skin.

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Company. 


Moments of change for soprano and piano (2005)

Duration: 15′

Poetry by Margaret Atwood in English.
Written for soprano Eileen strempel.
Performance history.

Song cycle of five songs for soprano and piano based on five poems by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. The moment from Morning in the Burned House;Habitation, More and more, It is dangerous to read newspapers, and Late night from Selected Poems 1965-1975.

I. The moment illustrates the false notion that makes us believe that we own land and other property in this world. Only to realize this is false when we die – we own them only temporarily. The music underscores the dramatic moments of the poem and the futile pursue of ownership: we work all our lives trying to acquire more property until we stop breathing and realize we were visitors in this world and we own nothing!

II. Habitation focuses on the moment when two people after many years of being married ask themselves what is marriage: it is not a house, or even a tent, it is before that and colderÊ. The music is reflective, sparse and austere and it ends without an answer, the same way it started, just like the poem.

III. More and more is a very passionate poem about desire and its search to satisfy it not knowing why and not being able to stop it (a starved dog’s logic about bones.’ The music emphasizes intense and loaded words such as ‘burning’, ‘hunger’, ‘starved’, ‘consume’, with dramatic shifts of mood and tempo.

IV. It is dangerous to read newspapers is the moment when we read a newspaper and realized the contrast between our safe daily lives in the cities and the violent acts of war being committed in other parts of the world. The music reflects these simultaneous realities, the safety of our daily lives and the horrors that take place in other places of the world.

V. Late night takes place on a night when a storm is attacking us like a giant dog or wild boar with huge ears,’ and when the powerful effect of the thunder on our windows and roof is terrifying a moment later our thoughts anticipate the serene sky after the storm then we realize that all that we want is our loved one (‘screw poetry, it’s you that I want’.) The music reflects these extreme states of mind.

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Company.