Ode to fortitude (2024) sopr., mezzo, women’s choir and orchestra

Oda a la Fortaleza (2024) (Ode to fortitude) is a symphonic poem for soprano, mezzo, women’s choir and orchestra based on my own text. This Ode was commissioned by the Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès and the Palau de la Música Catalana as an overture before Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The text of the Ode is in Catalan and equivalent to Schiller’s but from a woman’s point of view. The most important phrases of the text – which helped me organize the structure, narrative and dramatic and sometimes epic feeling of the work are the following. The first phrase is “Som persones primer, dones després (We are people first, women second), which appears at the beginning of the work and tells us what the music is about; the soloists and the choir firmly reiterate the word “SOM” (We are) accentuated by orchestral iterations in different registers. The second essential phrase, Endavant sense por! (Forward without fear) is a call to action that appears several times in the work but especially at the end.

The premiere took place on April 6 and 7, 2024, at the Palau de la Musica Catalana

TEXT in Catalan, English (link includes instrumentation also)

 

 

 

 

 

Repartido entre tiempo y espacio for soprano, trumpet & piano (2016)

Repartido entre tiempo y espacio for soprano, trumpet & piano was commissioned and dedicated to Antoni Solé. The premiere took place in 2016 at Sala Sole Luthiers in Barcelona and was performed by soprano Margarita Natividade, and pianist Xavier Rivera.

This work is based on a poem in Spanish by Juan Eduardo Cirlot titled “A Osiris”.

Imitació del foc (Imitation of fire) for tenor & piano

  • Duration 12′
  • Poetry by Rosselló-Pòrcel (1913-1938) in Catalan
  • Commissioned by tenor Jess Muñoz,with generous support from a University of Delaware General University Research Grant.
  • Premiered on March 12, 2018, at the University of Delaware in a program dedicated to Catalonian and Latin American women composers.
  • This work was recorded on August 10-13, 2018, by Jess Muñoz, tenor, and pianist Oksana Glouchko, with producer/engineer Andreas Meyer and will be part of an album featuring 24 Art Songs by Catalan Composers of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Performance history

Text

Imitació del foc (Imitation of fire) for tenor & piano is a song cycle for tenor and piano based on four poems in Catalan by Bartomeu Rosselló-Pòrcel (1913-1938), a Spanish Balearic poet, who wrote in Catalan. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. He has a brief oeuvre but dense. His mature work, Imitation of fire (1938) turns him into the first Mallorcan poet who fully belongs to the twentieth century. Once the influence of the Mallorcan School has been overcome, the poetics of this last book are influenced by the generation of 1927, as well as by the avant-garde and specifically surrealism. There are also echoes of his interest in Spanish Baroque literature, along with a neo-populism similar to that of García Lorca or Rafael Alberti. In Rosselló-Pòrcel work is notable the presence of the symbol of fire, and related words, such as fire, flame, ash, charcoal burning and bonfires. The use of these symbol is not purely ornamental, but it reveals a deeper sense. The fire for Roselló-Porcell is purification, the struggle of opposites, light, life, rise, movement and perpetual change, immateriality and mastery. This vision of the fire connects Rosselló-Porcell directly with a pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus, who found in fire an overcoming of all processes of change that view reality.

The four poems selected in this song-cycle come from the collection Imitacio del foc and Quadern de sonets (an earlier work).

  1. Inici de campana (Bells start tolling) from Quadern de sonets, written in 1934
    This opening piece starts brilliantlly with tolling bell-like sounds calling for the parishioners. The spiritual symbol of church bells can be associated with the creative power, poetry and its followers. Rossello’s poem describes the poet in the evening hearing church bells and settlying at dusk into his home as a metaphor for internal search.
  2. Escolto la secreta…(I listen to the secret…) from Imitacio del Foc, Arbre de Flames). In this poem the poet explores the relation between himself and death when he “listens attentively to the secret harmony of the air and the ardor that trembles from great free waters.” The music is intimate and personal evoking the inner life and reflections of the poet.
  3. Pluja brodada (Embroidered rain) from Imitacio del foc, Fira encesa, written in 1938, is a poem in which the poet extols and personifies the rain, a natural element, in a precious manner, first reminding us of the sound of rain in a graphic manner. At the beginning of the poem the rain ‘dances’ joyously but little by little takes on a restless character. The music evokes the sound and moods of the rain; the tímbric sound on the rain is portrayed by sparkling arpeggios in the higher register of the piano.
  4. Ardent himne (Ardent hymn) from Imitacio del foc, Arbre de Flames, written in 1938. This poem states the dichotomy between the poet and the angel. The text is imbued with action and extraordinarily dynamic power, with fire contrasting with angels (‘homes alats’) and the night, portraying a vision of the world as a fight between contrary and opposite forces that need each other to exist.

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Company. 

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 (in Spanish)

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.

Published by Hidden Oaks Music Co.

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 Lyric/dramatic baritone and piano (1999/2004)

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.