Canto del pregonero
Three Poems by Rafael Alberti

for soprano and percussion (2020)

Category:

Description

Duration: 5 min.

Text:
Spanish
Rafael Alberti

Premieres:
2020
Stephanie Lamprea

Songs:
1. Si mi voz muriera
2. La paloma
3. Pregón

Program Note:
This set of art songs was written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. National and local stay-at-home orders and the cancellation of concert hall performances resulted in a surge of artists performing on social media and focusing on web-content as an outlet for their talent and creativity. I was disappointed with the cancellation of numerous performances and was looking for my own musical outlets when I stumbled on a call for “tiny works” for unaccompanied voice on Twitter from soprano Stephanie Lamprea. I reached out and proposed some poems by Rafael Alberti, and Canto del pregonero evolved slowly through April and May 2020.

Performance Note:
Canto del pregonero can be performed by one self-accompanied performer or by two performers, one singer and one percussionist.

Soprano part: While originally conceived for soprano, the vocal line can be transposed for performance by any singer.
Percussion part: Written during the 2020 coronavirus quarantine period, the percussion instruments in the score are suggestions of what I imagined for the ideal percussion sounds, but the part can be performed on any number of found objects. Explore what you have available and adapt your performance. Below is the instrument list and some suggestions for substitution.

Canto 1: Low- to middle-range singing bowl
Possible alternatives: Large to medium mixing bowl in metal or glass, large to medium metal dog bowl, large ceramic flower pot. Whatever you choose, try to find something that has good resonance for the A section of the canto and can also produce a sharp staccato for the B section

Canto 2: High bell (on E or the singers tonic pitch), high triangle
Possible alternatives: The desired sound here is high and resonant; it may be pitched or unpitched. Wine glasses, small metal bowls might work. I found the metal lid to my dogs’ cookie jar makes a great sound when struck by a screwdriver or a tuning fork!

Canto 3: Two stones that fit in your palms
Possible alternatives: A sharp, dry sound is wanted here. A brick struck with a hammer or hard mallet would work, a couple small pieces of scrap wood could also work.

Translations:

1. Si mi voz muriera
If my voice dies on land
Carry it down to the seas
And leave it there on the shore.

Carry it down to the sea
And appoint it captain
Of a white man-of-war.

Oh my voice, decorated
With the signs of a sailor:

Over my heart an anchor
And over the anchor a star
And over the star the wind
And over the wind a sail!

2. La paloma
The dove was wrong.
She was mistaken.

To travel north, she flew south,
Thinking the wheat was water.
She was mistaken.

Thinking the sea was sky;
That the night, the morrow.
She was mistaken.

That the stars, the dew;
That the heat, the snowfall.
She was mistaken.

That your skirt was your blouse;
That your house, your home.
She was mistaken.

(She fell asleep on the shore,
You, at the tip of a branch.)

3. Pregón
I sell clouds of color,
Ellipses, reddened
To temper the heat!

I sell purple cirrus,
And pink, the dawns,
The golden sunsets!

The yellow star
Caught in the green branches
Of the celestial peach tree!

I sell the snow, the flame,
And the song of the crier!

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Three Poems by Rafael Alberti”

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