Ciudad perdida (2020)
Soprano and Piano
Poetry by Adalber Salas Hernández
Commissioned by and dedicated to Sparks and Wiry Cries and María Fernanda Brea.
Part I. (Ciudad perdida) from Salvoconducto
1. Intense, incandescent
2. Not too slow, contemplative, yet intense
4. Fast, frantic
Part II. (Poema XXXIII) from La ciencia de las despedidas
1. Like the ambient music on the waiting room to hell
2. Moderato, gentler, without a hint of irony
These songs constitute an attempt to musically encapsulate what has been happening in Venezuela over the last two decades. I wasn't interested in depicting the cruelty and misery that Venezuelans experience daily, after all, a song cycle for soprano and piano cannot truly do justice to such hell. Also, I have always been hesitant to musically depict what is going on in Venezuela given that I haven't lived there in over 20 years.
Instead, these songs are exploring my relationship to Venezuela and Caracas, specifically, as an expatriate now living in the United States. I was first drawn to Adalber Salas Hernández's beautiful poetry because of its profound sense of place. Here was someone who seemed to experience his city as a physical entity that he carries with him everywhere he goes. Throughout the two poems here, there is a palpable sense that something profound has been lost. That the city that we grew up in no longer exists, it has either been washed away by the rain, or we have lost it by leaving it.
Because the two poems chosen are longer than those generally used in song cycles, I decided to split them into smaller sections. Part I is a setting of the poem Ciudad perdida, and is itself divided into four sections. Part II is a setting of the poem XXXIII from La ciencia de las despedidas and is divided into 2 parts.
Part I has a distinct Spanish flavor, with echoes of flamenco music, especially in the outer parts. This was done not only as a way to subliminally connect this music to the world from which it partially came, but also as a way to find a certain darkness and verve that would echo the loss depicted in this poetry.
Part II begins as a pop song, as though it's the music in the waiting room at an immigration facility. This banal music is meant to be in stark contrast with the lyrics that depict the intrusions to which immigrants are subjected upon entering a new land. As the question of the motive for travel keeps popping up, the narrator becomes more introspective and pensive, and we enter the interior world of this weary traveler. By the time we reach the second section, all echoes from this "hold music" are gone except for one last cruel reminder near the end. I dedicate this piece to all caraqueños who are now wondering the world still yearning for their Ávila mountain.