…y el ave lucida… songs on texts of Pablo Neruda for soprano and nine instruments (1987)

Duration c. 16 minutes Premiered by North/South Consonance, German Caceres – conductor, Margaret O'Keefe – soprano, October 11, 1987, Christ and St. Stephens Church, New York, NY.

Pablo Neruda
From “Plenos Poderes”
© Pablo Neruda, 1962, Fundacion Pablo Neruda
Perusal score, recording and information on rental or sale of performance materials available upon request

Program Notes

“…y el ave lucida…” was composed between 1985 and 1987. I was very drawn at the time to the work of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and chose a handful of texts from his book “Plenos Poderos” (“Fully Empowered”). I was struck by Neruda’s evocation of nature, so full of strange and vibrant images; some conventional, others (the final poem “Planeta” in particular) bordering on the surrealistic. The two internal movements of the piece – the spritely, brittle “La Primavera” and the dark-hued “Oceano” – are both framed by two incantatory movements, one instrumental (“Introduction”) the other with voice (“Planeta”), meant to portray Neruda’s texts in a cyclic manner.

“…y el ave lucida…” was composed for soprano Margaret O’Keefe and was premiered by the new music ensemble North/South Consonance in October of 1987.

La Primavera
El pájaro ha venido
A dar la luz:
De cada trino suyo
Nace el agua.

Y entre agua y luz que el aire desarrollan
Ya está la primavera inaugurada,
Ya sabe la semilla que ha crecido,
La raiz se retrata en la corolla,
Se abren porfin los párpados del pollen.

Todo lo hizo un pájaro sencillo
Desde una rama verde.
The bird has come
To bring light to birth.
From every trill of his,
Water is born.

And between water and light which unwind the air,
Now the spring is inaugurated,
Now the seed is aware of its own growing;
The root takes shape in the corolla,
At last the eyelids of the pollen open.

All this accomplished by a simple bird
From his perch on a green branch.
Cuerpo más puro que un ola,
Sal que lava la línea,
Y el ave lúcida
Volando sin raíces.
Body more perfect than a wave,
Salt washing the sea line,
And the shining bird
Flying without ground roots.
Hay piedras de agua en la luna?
Hay aguas de oro?
De qué color es el otoño?
Se unen uno a uno los días
Hasta que en una cabellera
Se dezenlazan? Cuanto cae
- papeles, vino, manos, muertos –
de la tierra en esa comarca?

Viven allí los ahogados?
Are there stones of water on the moon?
Are there waters of gold?
What color is autumn?
Do the days run into one another
Until like a shock of hair
They all unravel? How much falls
- paper, wine, hands, dead bodies –
from the earth on that far place?

Is it there that the drowned live?