Haikus for soprano and 5-octave marimba. On poetry in Basque by Tzaro Etxebarria Clemente. 2018. Duration 9 minutes.


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Set to “Haikus,” a poem by Basque poet Tzaro Etxebarria Clemente, this nine-minute-long song was my first attempt to set to music poetry in a language that I do not speak. I have been fascinated with the Basque language for years, as it is the only language in Europe of pre-Indo-European origin and, when the opportunity presented itself for me to work with Basque texts, I took it. The song was a gift to two musician-friends, soprano Nora Franco Madariaga and percussionist Conrado Moya Sanchez who gave its premiere performance during their concert in the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain in the autumn of 2018. I had the benefit of firsthand experience of the wonderfully ambient acoustics of that space when Everlasting Light, my choral requiem, was performed by Conrado and Chorale Bilbao in September 2017 as part of a concert commemorating the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Guernica by the combined Nazi-Fascist forces Germany, Italy and Spain. My present setting has v this wonderful acoustic in mind (the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is in my opinion architect Frank Gehry’s quintessential masterpiece,) and it is recommended for subsequent performances in very ambient spaces, where some of the unusual sounds of the music (singing away from the audience by the soprano and rolling chords and drones with soft mallets on the marimba) can articulate the sonic personality of the surrounding architecture.   


Premiere performance: November 24, 2018, 8:00 PM. Nora Franco Madariaga, soprano; Conrado Moya Sanchez, marimba. Atrium of the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain.


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