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Todavía Cantan (They Continue to Sing)

 I.  Pájaros (Birds)

 II. Vendavales (Whirlwinds)

 III. Retoños (Buds)


Todavía Cantan is a three-movement piece for large chamber ensemble. I had been thinking about human abuse of nature, how resilient nature can be, and how we are testing that resilience ever more harshly. I had a strong visual image of living things growing, then being crushed, then slowly recovering, then being crushed. . . the recovery becoming increasingly difficult.


The first movement, Pájaros, is based on bird calls, with an underlying chromatic cluster that becomes denser and more intense throughout the movement. After a peaceful beginning, the bird calls become increasingly disjunct until the movement ends in a layering of angular melodies. The ensemble is used as a divided choir, setting stage-left against stage-right.


The second movement, Vendavales, expressed frenetic activity. It is in ABA’ form; both A sections are canons in perpetual motion based on a 12-tone melody that is permutated at each successive entrance by moving the former first note to the end. In the first A section, the sound travels from one side of the ensemble to the other; in the second, the sound travels front to back. The B section creates and develops a counterpoint implied by the melodic framework of the A theme. Sound travels from the strings to the woodwinds in this portion of the piece.


The third movement, Retoños, sets a homophonic string chorale against the other instruments. The chorale is repeatedly disrupted by the other instruments’ interjections of fragmented melodic material from all three movements, each disruption lasting longer than the previous. Each successive interruption causes the chorale to go out of tune for a longer period. The string quartet, at center, is surrounded by the winds and percussion.

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, clarinet, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 percussion, string quartet

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