While putting our program together for “Belleza de las Américas”
for voice and guitar, I looked over a piece of music I had received as a comp copy from Oxford University Press many years ago. They were simple but beautiful songs by the Ecuadorian composer
. I messaged the maestro via email this past fall to ask about his complete cycle for voice and guitar from where the songs came from, Eleven Songs
, composed to his own text. He answered right away and we talked about the work. The cycle is out of print and not obtainable, although it can be checked out from the NY Public Library
. I would say the texts are unified by a sort of celebration of life: a lullaby for the birth of his son, hope in the future as well songs that are set to a kind of romantic poetry, with imagery that is heartfelt and with the smell of earth. All the songs were recorded by soprano Dana Hanchard
(I purchased this CD via Amazon), in which Ms. Hanchard performs these ballads in a frank and personal manner.
I showed the songs to guitarist Francisco Roldán, and he suggested we work on “Tu eternidad”; we started to develop the piece for our next performance in Long Island this past fall. The composer writes on the score the word “pasillo”, to give us a clue as to the affect of the song. The “pasillo” is a prevalent 3/4 meter and dance step that can be found in many South American countries. The words are simple, forthright but sensual; here is my hasty English translation of this song:
Inside the wind I will find your voice,
following the path of my days in the sun
and in high nights, with my singing voice.
I will find your warm clarity
and your fresh cool hands…
Climbing near the rivers, the fog and forests,
I will find your breast, your pulse and your shadow,
I will find your breath and the eternal you
We worked the song to find its natural arches and climaxes, and for me to find a way to say these words in the most natural way possible. We performed the song at least once in the original guitar and voice. I afterwards was thinking of ways to include another South American dance in the off shoot of “Bellezas de las Américas”, the project “Alegría Hispana
“, which is comprised of the Latin American songs that Francisco and myself perform, but with the inclusion of the art of Spanish dancer Elisabet Torras Aguilera
. The program as it stood had several dances from Spain and only one from the Americas ( a habanera “La paloma” by Sebastian Yradier). In order to add more of South American dance, I suggested that Elisabet try to interpret “Tu Eternidad” by Mstro. Luzuriaga with us.
Elisabet’s specialty includes all the important dance genres of her native Spain (regional folkore, Andalusian flamenco as well as the sophisticated and suave 18th century Escuela bolera
). She willingly took the project up, listening to various different “pasillos” on Youtbe, as well as observing various dance shows, including interpretations by the National Ballet of Ecuador and street videos of this dance…she dabbled in Wikipedia as well as online documentaries to learn about the birth of the “pasillo”, and the influence of the European waltz upon it. She related that were two types of “pasillo”, a ballroom version and a popular street version. The costume she chose to represent this piece included a blouse with high collar (very 19th century), with a full colonial style skirt. Elisabet’s “pasillo” was a historical, sober and elegant depiction of “pasillo”. We premiered this new creation this past summer for the Latin American Cultural Center in Queens.
Spanish dancer Elisabet Torras Aguilera, guitarist Francisco Roldan and mezzo soprano Anna Tonna at the Tropicalia Hall, performing “Alegria Hispana” for the Latin American Cultural Center of Queens. Phot credit: H. Stephen Brown
This coming Sunday December 11th 2016
, we will do “Alegria Hispana” once more, and we interpret this beautiful version for voice, guitar and dancer of Diego Luzuriaga’s
“, in Huntington (Long Island) at 2:30 pm; free admission
. Presented by the South Huntington Public Library
(located at 145 Pidgeon Hill Road). For more information, please call 631-549-4411
, or check out our Facebook Page Bellezas de las Americas