Tag Archives: Max Lifchitz

“Pascua Florida”: nuevo cíclo para mezzo y piano Miquel Ortega sobre textos de Maria Lejárraga

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“Pascua Florida”: nuevo cíclo para mezzo y piano Miquel Ortega sobre textos de Maria Lejárraga

Pascua Florida Nuevo cíclo de 8 canciones para mezzo soprano y piano, sobre textos de María Lejárraga, compuestas por el compositor Miquel Ortega; estreno absoluto domingo 12 de febrero, 2012 en el National Opera Center de Nueva York; mezzo soprano Anna Tonna y Max Lifchitz, piano.

Notas de programa

María de la O Lejárraga (La Rioja, 1874- Buenos Aires, 1974), conocida también como María Martinez Sierra, escritora y feminista española, es uno de esos personajes particulares que nos deja la historia en ocasiones. Hija de buena familia, logró una educación por encima de lo habitual en una mujer de su época. Esposa del dramaturgo Gregorio Martínez Sierra desde 1900, escribió siempre oculta bajo el nombre de su marido, mientras públicamente defendía los derechos de la mujer, consiguiendo incluso un escaño de diputada en 1933.

El matrimonio Martinez Sierra formó la que probablemente haya sido la unión más singular y enigmática de la historia de las letras españolas, una colaboración que resultó clave para la difusión del modernismo. Fundaron revistas literarias de vanguardia, como Helios y Renacimiento, donde escribieron los mejores escritores su época, y desde su papel como productores teatrales en el Teatro Eslava, impulsaron la más importante renovación teatral del primer tercio del siglo xx en el pais, mientras reunían a su alrededor a los creadores más inovadores e importantes del momento.

Tras su matrimonio, María Lejárraga escribió bajo el nombre de Gregorio Martínez Sierra, aunque ha quedado claro en tiempos modernos que todas las obras de Martínez Sierra fueron escritas por nuestra autora (auténticos best-sellers de la época, como Canción de cuna, llevada al cine en 4 ocasiones, una de ellas en Hollywood), asi como también las primeras traducciones en España de Shakespeare, Shaw, Maeterlinck, Ibsen y Ionesco. Entre los muchos triunfos en el mundo de la lírica de la “marca” Martinez Sierra se pueden citar Las Golondrinas y La llama, con música de Usandizaga (1914), y Margot y Jardin de Oriente, ambas de Joaquín Turina.

Hoy nos enfocamos en dicho trabajo de María Lejárraga en el campo de la lírica, y concretamente en la amistad y colaboración entre ella y el compositor Manuel de Falla. Ellos fueron los creadores de dos obras clave del ballet español del siglo XX, El amor brujo y El sombrero de tres picos, que llevaron a la fama mundial Les ballets Russes y Antonia Mercé, La Argentina.

Manuel de Falla conoció al matrimonio Martínez Sierra en París. A consecuencia de la I Guerra Mundial, Falla regresa a España y empieza a trabajar con el matrimonio, en realidad con Lejárraga únicamente. En 1915 Lejárraga y el compositor gaditano realizaron un viaje a finales de marzo y primeros de abril a Andalucía, en visperas del estreno de la primera versión de El amor brujo en el Teatro Lara, el 15 de abril de ese año. La primera ciudad que visitaron fue Granada, ciudad que el músico gaditano no conocía, despues Ronda y Cádiz. En parte del epistolario que mantuvieron ambos (y que publica Antonio Gallego en un trabajo titulado ‘Pascua Florida: Un proyecto poético de María Lejárraga para Manuel de Falla’ en 1996 ) se refieren muchas veces a una especie de “album de viaje” poético musical. En 1980 Union Musical Española publica Obras desconocidas de Manuel de Falla, con cinco canciones, entre ellas “La canción andaluza: Pan de Ronda”, que formaba parte de ese álbum de viaje.

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Manuel de Falla, Maria Lejarraga y Joaquin Turina

En las cartas se comentaban planes para una ”suite” y un preludio. Pero la correspondencia delata un cambio de tono, desde la complicidad y familiaridad inicial, al enfado meses despues del viaje, por un incidente entre los dos amigos. La única canción que nos llega, a pesar de los ruegos de Lejárraga a Falla para que pusiera en música otras piezas del poemario, es, pues, “Pan de Ronda”. En el Archivo Manuel de Falla se conserva el esbozo de lo que hubiera sido esta suite vocal, escrito a lapiz con letra de Lejárraga sobre el dorso de un programa de concierto en Cádiz:

“Para el maestro Falla, tan amigo de guardar papeles viejos.”
“Pascua Florida” El jardín venenoso El descanso en San Nicolás El corazón que duerme bajo el agua El barrio gitano El salón de Carlos V Tinieblas en el convento El pan de Ronda que sabe a verdad El sol de Gibraltar Ciudades orientales Cádiz se echa a navegar

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Esbozo original del texto “Cadiz se ha echado a navegar” por Maria Lejarraga, cortesia del Archivo-Manuel de Falla (Granada)

Al leer por primera vez estos versos salta a la vista la belleza de los poemas que sobreviven de este listado: El jardín venenoso; Tinieblas en el convento; El descanso en San Nicolás; El pan de Ronda que sabe a verdad y Cádiz se echa a navegar. Un proyecto que no se completó, y que pudo haber sido otra obra maestra de Falla.

Desde que en 2010 Anna Tonna comenzó este viaje para conocer la faceta creadora y a la vez de musa inspiradora de María Lejárraga, todo lo que ha descubierto le ha llevado, junto con Mari Luz Gonzalez, autora del libro Música y músicos en la vida de María Lejárraga, a idear un proyecto en el cual estos poemas semiocultos de Lejárraga pudieran recobrar vida bajo la pluma de un compositor que diera voz a estos versos, creados durante una época feliz para los dos amigos, ese viaje en el que la escritora desveló al insigne maestro las bellezas de la Alhambra y del barrio del Albaicín…

De esta manera Tonna y González encargaron al compositor Miquel Ortega esta labor tan especial y emotiva, terminar este ciclo de canciones, para que músicos y publico se reencuentren con la obra “Pascua Florida”. Tres poemas más, encontrados en el archivo de los herederos de María Lejárraga, forman parte del presente cíclo: Nana del amor perdido, Yo sabía un cantar moro y Mañana de abril.

Con melodias depuradas y llenas de emoción, el compositor logra dar con el color de sus sonoridades, compaginándolo con rítmos que nos llegan de la tierra, el ambiente y sol andaluces, mostrando, tras 102 años de oscuridad, la intimidad de los protagonistas de este viaje por la Andalucía del 1915.

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“…me dejé imbuir por la musicalidad del propio poema que a veces hasta parecía dictarme la melodía.” Miquel Ortega

Pascua Florida
Música: Miquel Ortega Letra: María Lejárraga

Jardín venenoso Descanso en San Nicolás Tinieblas en el convento Noche estrellada mirando a Gibraltar Nana del amor perdido Yo sabía un cantar moro Cádiz se ha echado a navegar Mañana de abril

Bibliografía
Gallego, Antonio. “Pascua Florida: Un proyecto poético de María Lejárraga para Manuel de Falla.” Revista Atlántica Poesía, 11 (1996): 33-55.

Luz, González Peña María. Música y músicos en la vida de María Lejárraga. Logroño: Instituto de Estudios Riojanos, 2009.

Webber, Chr. “María and Gregorio Martínez Sierra.” = Zarzuela.net. N.p.,n.d.Web. 22 Feb. 2016.

Sierra, María Martínez, y Alda Blanco. Gregorio y yo: medio siglo de colaboración. Valencia: Pre-Textos, 2000.

Miquel Ortega (Barcelona,1963) es pianista, director de orquesta y compositor. Formado en el Conservatorio del Liceo, amplió sus estudios con Manuel Oltra y Antoni Ros Marbà. Como director ha dedicado una atención especial al mundo de la ópera y la zarzuela.

Ha estrenado títulos como La celestina, de Joaquim Nin-Culmell (2008), Dalí, de Xavier Benguerel (2011), y ha dirigido a los teatros del Liceo, la Zarzuela, Teatro Real de Madrid, Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, Capitole de Toulouse y Covent Garden, entre otros.

Es autor de la ópera La casa de Bernarda Alba (2007), el ballet Bestiario (2002-09) y el cuento musical El niño y la creación del mundo, estrenado en el Teatro Real de Madrid en enero del 2012. La casa de Bernarda Alba se estrenó en Brasov (Rumanía) en 2007 y posteriormente, en 2009, la obra tuvo su estreno en España en los Festivales Internacionales de Santander y Perelada.

Ortega es hoy en día uno de los directores españoles de su generación más apreciados en el campo operístico. Ha dirigido, entre otros, en el Gran Teatre del Liceu y el Palau de la Música de Barcelona, en el Teatro Real, Teatro de la Zarzuela y Auditorio Nacional de Música de Madrid, en el Kennedy Center de Washington, Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, Lindbury Studium de la Royal Opera House, Covent Garden de Londres, King’s Theater de Edimburgo, etc.

Su actividad como compositor también tiene a la voz como elemento principal, y muchos cantantes de la actualidad tienen en repertorio algunas de sus canciones; el tenor argentino Luis Lima, el barítono español Carlos Álvarez (que ha grabado bajo la dirección del propio autor cuatro de sus canciones) y las sopranos españolas Montserrat Caballé y Ainhoa Arteta, entre otros. Su producción comprende además, obras de cámara, sinfónicas y óperas.

Su estilo, de carácter mediterráneo, se distingue por su facilidad para la melodía y el uso de la tonalidad y la modalidad, preferentemente, con incursiones politonales y atonales esporádicas.

KAIDAN, promoción y comunicación Blanca Gutiérrez Cardona Tfo: 625 89 93 71 blancagutierrezcardona@gmail.com

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The mysteries of the human heart…”Me acerco, y me retiro”: a musical setting of a poem by Sor Juana de la Cruz by composer Max Lifchitz

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I was asked by the pianist and composer Max Lifchitz to participate once more in a concert dedicated to the classical composers of Mexico for the annual “Cinco de Mayo Celebration” vocal concert presented by North South Consonance.  The concert will take place on Sunday May 3, 2015  at 3 PM at the Christ and St. Stephen’s church in NYC.  I had the idea of asking my colleague, contralto Celeste Mann to join me in the vocal recital in order to make the occasion more celebratory.  I also suggested that Max compose a new piece for piano and two female voices for us to debut at this concert.

Celeste and I left the choice of text up to the composer, and were intrigued to find that he had chosen a poem by the Mexican nun, writer and poet Sor Juana de la Cruz (1651-1695) from what is considered her “Lesbian Love Poetry” canon, “Me acerco, y  me retiro”.

Me acerco y me retiro:
¿quién sino yo hallar puedo
a la ausencia en los ojos
la presencia en lo lejos?

Del desprecio de Filis,
infelice, me ausento.
¡Ay de aquel en quien es
aun pérdida el desprecio!

Tan atento la adoro
que, en el mal que padezco,
no siento sus rigores
tanto como el perderlos.

No pierdo, al partir, sólo
los bienes que poseo,
si en Filis, que no es mía,
pierdo lo que no pierdo.

¡Ay de quien un desdén
lograba tan atento,
que por no ser dolor
no se atrevió a ser premio!

Pues viendo, en mi destino,
preciso mi destierro,
me desdeñaba más
porque perdiera menos.

¡Ay! ¿Quién te enseño, Filis,
tan primoroso medio:
vedar a los desdenes
el traje del afecto?

A vivir ignorado
de tus luces, me ausento
donde ni aun mi mal sirva
a tu desdén de obsequio.

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Sor Juana de la Cruz

I had not read Sor Juana since my days in college, and was happy to look her up again…considered one of the finest exponents of Spain’s Golden Age of literature, as well as being considered the beginning of Mexican literature, Sor Juana’s independence, intellect, her cloistered life in which she was able to arrange for her cell to become a highly sought after salon attended by the intellectual elite of what was then Viceroyalty of Spain in Mexico, makes her a towering figure of Spanish letters as well as modern women’s gender studies and model for many women writers of Latin America.  The poem that Lifchitz chose is generally acknowledged as fruit of a “romantic” friendship (perhaps not a lesbian relationship as we would understand it in modern times, scholars suggest) that Sor Juana had with a Mexican countess.  Nevertheless, the text speaks of an intimate window for us to peak thru of Sor Juana’s experience of love, the push and pull of an emotional upheaval caused by the uncertainty of her friend’s feelings towards her.  The setting for two female voices creates the sensation that is familiar to me, of brain or heart speaking to itself, sometimes obsessively, questioning and in the end berating…

The setting includes passages of trumpet like exclamations in the higher voice with searing emotion; the contralto is set in a much lower range, sounding like a private mussing, a mumbled prayer almost. The choice to compose a setting for two female voices serves to accentuate a tone of an intense internal debate…Sor Juana uses the pastoral poetry pseudonym of “Fillis”, as not to disclose the real identity of the lady in question.  Preceded by a dramatic piano introduction, the composer sets the stage for the dramatic soliloquy for two female voices to unfold.

I asked Max Lifchitz to write a few words about the piece, I include here below:

“My musical setting attempts to both capture and portray the melancholic feelings of exasperation and resignation evident in Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz’s poetic lines. Her poem  “Me acerco y me retiro” (I approach and withdraw) clearly deals with unrequited love and expresses deep feelings of despondency and sadness over a lover’s disdain. A celebrity during her lifetime, Sor Juana (1651-1695)  came to new prominence in the late 20th century with the rise of feminism and women’s writing, officially being credited as the first published feminist of the New World.
 
I approached the writing of the duet with unusual trepidation and anxiety. Dealing with a poem by one of Mexico’s most revered intellectuals inspired me to juxtapose old-fashioned sounding harmonies with more present-day constructs. It also stirred me to compose lengthy piano interludes hoping to provide an adequate musical commentary to the multiple emotions and shadings implied in the poetry. I also exercised extreme caution and respect denoting the poetry’s sapphic meter with its many starts and stops. Overall, I sought to enhance the forcefulness and urgency of Sor Juana’s poetry.”
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Composer Max Lifchitz

The word premiere of “Me acerco, y me retiro” by Max Lifchitz will take place on Sunday May 3, 2015 at 3 PM, as part of the Cinco de Mayo Celebration concert of vocal music by classical composers of Mexico at the Christ and St. Stephen’s Church in Manhattan, located at 120 W. 69th Street.  Included in this vocal concert are songs by Manuel Ponce, Rodolfo Halffter, Salvador Moreno and Maria Grever.
May 3 Revised 4 (2)

Song cycle “Perfume” (2013) by Darwin Aquino, b. 1979

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Composer, conductor and violinist Darwin Aquino

Several years ago, I met Darwin Aquino by phone…out of the blue my pianist friend Daniel Daroca decided to call him, without any previous introduction.  We had found his blog on the internet, and saw that he was the director of a youth orchestra in Dominican Republic, along the lines of “el sistema” from Venezuela.  Gleaning over the blog, we also saw that he was also composer and violinist.  Several years later, we met in person when he was celebrated in a composer showcase concert produced by the Association of Dominican Classical Artists in New York City.  We spoke briefly about him writing me a piece, using texts by a Dominican female poet that I would need to research and elect.  At the time I had struck a friendship with Dominican York poet Marisol Espaillat. I told Marisol I needed help identifying a female Dominican poet that I could look into for texts for this new composition for voice and piano.  We met at Caliope (since closed), a Dominican bookstore in Washington Heights, where I made several purchases, but I did not take my research further at that time.

Pianist, composer and director of North South Consonance Max Lifchitz  knew of my friendship with Darwin.  Upon receiving a special grant from the University of Albany to do a special concert, master class and talks regarding inclusion of minorities in classical music, he suggested I collaborate with Darwin in creating a new piece we could premiere on October 27th, the season opening concert for North South Consonance in Manhattan.  The concert would then be repeated at the Performing Arts Center in Albany (NY) on October 29, 2013.  With a firm date and project on hand, I had to get serious about finding texts for this new song cycle.

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Poster announcing “Latin American Song: A Panoramic View” on October 29, 2013 at the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Albany

I came across the poem “Mi vaso verde” by Altagracia Saviñón (1886-1942) via my friend, the painter and theater designer José Miura.  He mentioned that Saviñón  is considered the first “symbolist” poet of Dominican Republic.  Chronologically coinciding with the time period of the French Symbolists,  hers is a melancholic story: a poet of great promise, composing her best most well-known poem at age 17, at an early age exhibited signs of mental illness and lived most of her adult life in an insane asylum, victim of an apparent schizophrenia. Her whole reputation and place in the canon of Dominican literature is based on this poem, which translates into “My green vase”.  José wrote the poem in a beautiful card in his own hand writing, which I still conserve.  I sent the poem to Darwin, and he was immediately enchanted by the text.  Still needing a second poem, I posed my question to painter and writer Fernando Ureña Rib, who suggested the moving poem by Dominican female poet who’s nome de plume was “Carmen Natalia”.   Carmen Natalia Bonilla Martinez (1916-1976), in contrast to Saviñón, realized a full life, in which she became a writer of great distinction in prose, poetry and theater, and became both an early feminist and political dissenter to the then dictator of Dominican Republic Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.  Carmen Natalia emigrated to Puerto Rico, and she was promptly “erased” from the literary canons of her country.  After the death of said dictator she returned to Santo Domingo, and presently  has been recognized as one of the great Dominican poets.  Fernando suggested I use  “Poema de la eternidad cansada”, in which the symbol of an old dress is used to bring out the hypocrisy of societal hypocrisy, and  the themes of imposed societal and cultural roles upon women.

Carmen Natalia Martnez Bonilla

Poet Carmen Natalia Martinez Bonilla

With Darwin’s interest in historical subjects and themes in his composition, both of these poems provided the source of inspiration he needed.  The result is a brief cycle entitled “Perfume”, comprised of three songs: I  Las Flores  II Eternidad Cansada  III Mi vaso verde.

The composer choose to interpose these two poems, making a synthesis that is dynamic, in which one text leads into the other seamlessly.  The first song is built on an almost naïve happy melody that repeats in a joviality and lightness that changes almost abruptly into the miniature “Eternidad Cansada”, which is only four bars long.  Marked Libre, con angustia on repetitive notes, the song  follows immediately without a break into the hypnotic and final “Mi vaso verde”.  This last song, the most haunting of the cycle, has a repeated leitmotif  of two falling notes C# and A natural, echoed throughout as well as directions for the mezzo-soprano to strike two water filled glasses on stage, that play these actual pitches.  Recitative like, with indications for certain passages to be done without vibrato, in some instances in Sprechstimme, the last two pages have a dramatic climax, the first to a high b flat, and the second and final into a repeated ostinato that in my imagination, emulates the laughter of the maddened Altagracia  Saviñón.

Although the songs have a modern aesthetic, they never approach atonality; they are almost expressionist and explore the possible harmonic and vocal effects that help bring out these texts in the most dramatic way possible.

I plan on explaining briefly what the songs are about, a very brief history of both poets and about Darwin’s hopes for this new creation:

“From these lines from which emanate these three songs, are reflexions about life and death. Interpreted without interreption, the cycle begins with “Flowers”; this text represents “existence” (perfume) of the flower that is bound by water (life) contained in “My green vase”, the dramatic song which concludes the cycle.   The second song, “Eternal Tiredness” symbolizes death and unites the title of the poems by Martinez Bonilla and Saviñón”.

“Dos canciones Afro-Cubanos” by Alejandro García-Caturla (1906-1940)

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Cuban composer Alejandro García Caturla

When planning my upcoming Latin American Song: A Panoramic View recital on October 27th in Manhattan, I decided to program the diptych by the Cuban modernist composer Alejandro García Caturla.  I have been interested his Dos canciones Afro-Cubanos since I heard his voodoo inspired Juego Santo in a recording from the mid 50’s by the American soprano Phyllis Curtin.  This disc is probably one of the first US recording of Latin American Art Song by an artist and label outside of Latin America.

My disc of “Canciones y Cantigas” by American soprano Phyllis Curtin

I started looking for a score and found it almost immediately, thanks to New York based tenor and voice teacher Andrés Andrade.  His great aunt in Cuba had studied piano with Caturla.  Currently working from a photocopy of the cycle,  the songs were originally edited by Maurice Senart in 1930 and are a fruit of the collaboration between the Cuban poet and intellectual Alejo Carpantier (1904-1980) and García-Caturla when they were both in Paris in  the 1920’s.  The young Caturla was at the time studying with Nadia Boulanger.  The edition carries the dedication to the Cuban  soprano Lydia de Rivera, who premiered Dos Poemas Afro-Cubanos in 1929 in Paris.  In this photograph I found of de Rivera in the internet, she looks like the 1920’s American actress of the movie Pandora ‘s Box, Louise Brookes:

Cuban soprano Lydia de Rivera

Lydia de Rivera  (1906-1990) was at the time the only Cuban (perhaps the first!) classical singer actively singing and promoting art song from Cuba both in her country and internationally, playing in concert halls of great prestige.  Her notoriety must of been wide, as the cycle Tres Sonetos for voice and piano by the Spanish composer Joaquín Turina are dedicated to her.  I found this photo of Lydia de Rivera and Turina by the  Eiffel Tower (Archive Fundación Juan March, Madrid Spain).

Spanish composer Joaquín Turina and Cuban soprano Lydia de Rivera, from the Joaquín Turina archive at the Fundación Juan March, Madrid (Spain)

Tres Sonetos by Joaquín Turina, dedicated to Lydia de Rivera

Back to the actual songs, The first of which is Mari-Sabel: I had no actual recording of this piece, as it was not included in the recording I have by Ms. Curtin. I had put off learning this song for years…difficult to learn, with jagged rhythms and harmonies and scales that baptize the Afro Cuban modernist style of which Caturla pretty much inaugurated, the song switches from a “son” tune as well as other various dance rhythms to primitive sounding soliloquies that describe a sunny lazy afternoon, disturbed first by a a peanut vendor, ending with a rambunctious drive to a final dramatic ending with the “son” gone wild.  I started reading up on the piece and how it came about in Google Books, and found the excellent biography and study about this composer by Charles W. White, “Alejandro García Caturla:  A Cuban Composer in the 20th Century”: in 1929 at age 23, Caturla sailed from his native Cuba to Spain, were he was welcomed in Madrid by the most prominent composers and music critics of the day (Ernesto Halffter, Afolfo Salazar, Joaquín Turina among others). He subsequently went to Barcelona to present his Tres Danzas Cubanas at the Festivales Sinfónicos Iberoamericanos.  While in Barcelona, he received an urgent call from his friend Carpantier.  He was asked to compose two songs for Lydia de Rivera’s upcoming concerts in Paris to texts by said poet.  Leaving other extremely important prospects in Spain, such as his debut as conductor as well as premiere of his Tres Danzas Cubanas by Ernesto Halffter, he traveled to Paris to see his name in kiosks around the city announcing his new composition to be premiered by the Cuban soprano.  Caturla finished the songs in a matter of days, and the premiere of Dos Poemas Afro-Cubanos on November 19, 1929 at the Salle Gaveau took place to resounding success.

In White’s book about Caturla, he signals this diptych as a true masterpiece without equal in the new musical aesthetic of Afro-Cuban modernism.  There is an in-depth analysis of both Mari-Sabel and Juego Santo with musical examples.  It was in this cycle, White writes, that the composer does a decisive about face from writing songs closer to popular rhythms to the Avant-garde Afro Cuban modernism that he is now know for.  In the Phyllis Curtin CD is also his “Bito Manué”, using the sarcastic text by Cuban nationalist poet, Nicolás Guillén,

My copy of “Dos Poemas Afro-Cubanos” by Caturla

The second song, Juego Santo relates a voodoo ceremony.   The text evokes vodoo dieties and shamanistic practices.  The ABA song starts with an African drumming theme that is strong and in your face, with Afro-Cuban Spanish words mixed in.  The B section is a dramatic soliloquy describing the rite itself:

They tied the goat, they killed the crow, they cooked the crab and the took out the Devil!

Intense stuff…I will be doing a close up study of this song, information on how to perform it with  background I hope to learn about Cuban voodoo practices.  I have also become very interested in the soprano Lydia de Rivera and have begun asking here in NYC among my contacts to find out if anyone here knew her. According to the article I found on the internet she migrated to the US in 1960, living in NYC until her passing in 1990.  After her triumphant recital tours of Latin American songs in the 1920’s, in her native Cuba she became the muse and interpreter of the songs and zarzuelas of Ernesto Lecuona as well as a voice teacher in her native Cuba.  At this point I do not know of her activities in NYC.

Alejo Carpantier was the subject of three didactic concerts at the Fundación Juan March in Madrid (Spain), which examined his ties to musical culture to both Cuban and Spain, there is the link to the PDF of the program notes, which are filled with information, including a small essay about Caturla.  I enclose here a video clip of the presentations:  The Musical Universe of Alejo Carpantier

Back to our composer, had it not been for his untimely death at the age of 33 years old, Caturla would of surely be considered one of the giants of Latin American music besides the well-known Heitor Villa-Lobos, Carlos Chávez, Manuel Ponce and Alberto Ginastera.  This highly original composer, who was at the forefront of a new musical movement in classical Latin American composition is not very well-known outside of intellectual circles.  His Dos Poemas Afro-Cubanos is really an achievement of three artists: the composer, the poet Carpantier and the Lydia de Rivera.  The cycle represents all three of these artists, all of whom are important to the musical culture of Cuba and beyond.    I hope to do them justice!

An additional note, while wandering the stacks of the New York Performing Arts Library and totally by coincidence, I discovered an orchestrated version of this cycle for voice and full orchestra, in Caturla’s hand writing, dated 1930.

Orchestrated version of Dos Poemas Afro-Cubanas  by Caturla

Orchestrated version of Dos Poemas Afro-Cubanas by Caturla

Poster for “Latin American Song: A Panoramic View”

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I asked the Spanish artist and graphic designer friend Sergio del Toro to help me with a design of a promotional image for my upcoming concert of Latin American Song:  A Panoramic View with pianist/composer Max Lifchitz in Manhattan with North/South Consonance, Inc. this coming October 27th. The recital is comprised of composers from all over Latin America. The idea of the map was mine, but Sergio developed the idea of the interconnecting lines symbolizing how Latin America is united through culture, language and of course music.

Sergio wrote me a few lines about the concept of the poster he created:

“Anna tenía muy claro lo que quería reflejar en la imagen. La idea inicial del cartel era mostrar un mapa al estilo de las antiguas películas de aventuras, una especie de ruta de viaje a través de los países de Latinoamérica, en busca de un tesoro musical, con un toque “vintage”. Tras haber realizado un primer cartel y tener el visto bueno, no pude dejar de darle vueltas, de imaginar un mapa diferente. Finalmente, intentando respetar la idea inicial, pensé en las canciones cómo hilos de unión para dibujarlo, tejido por las canciones, la colorida y cálida multiculturalidad siendo guiados, además, por la rosa de los, vientos. Así entre varias comunicaciones en la diferencia horaria, se creó la imagen del concierto”.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Anna had a clear idea of what she wanted the image to reflect.  The initial idea was a poster that showed a map in the style of the old adventure movies, a sort of trip route thru the different countries of Latin America, in search of musical treasures, with a vintage touch.  After making the first prototype and seen it as a good effort, I could not stop thinking of a new idea and imagining a different kind of map.  Finally, trying to respect the original idea, I thought of the songs as threads of union to draw (the map), knitted by the songs, colored with the quality of multiculturalism that are guided, besides, by the compass rose.  So it was, with our various communication efforts and difference of time between NYC and Spain, the image of the concert came into being.

The concert is presented by North/South Consonance, Inc. in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, and takes place on October 27th at 3 PM at Christ and St. Stephen’s in Manhattan. Free Admission:
For more information please go to:
https://latinamericansong.eventbrite.com/