La Madre Triste [7]

2-part children's choir, soprano solo, violin, cello & piano

Based on what was originally the middle movement of a larger work, Piececitos,  La Madre Triste is a vivid musical meditation on motherhood, migration and exile based on poems by Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.  Set in the original Spanish, for soprano solo, treble choir, violin, cello and piano, La Madre Triste interweaves Latin American dance rhythms with haunting melodies:  lullabies and laments of a mother on her treacherous journey toward refuge.

While the strings keen a contrapuntal lament, the sad mother croons a lullaby to the baby swaddled and swaying on her back.   Her melody is a paraphrase of a 15th century Sephardic folksong, originally sung by Spanish Jews fleeing their own persecution.   Intermittently, children sing along with the strings, echoes of  hope and consolation.

La Madre Triste , like Piececitos as a whole, uses traditional musical patterns and pre-existing quotations to blend or contrast with newly composed elements/   Folkloric wisdom, generational and cultural ties clash in a mother’s  inner dialogue of hope, terror and love as she struggles toward refuge for her children.