La Madre Triste
(Brooklyn Premiere)

La Madre Triste
performed with dancers by Habitat Home
First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn
124 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 624-3770
October 20, 2019 at 6:00 PM

While 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.

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,  Piececitos’ five songs for voice, violin, cello and piano interweave Latin American dance rhythms with haunting melodies:  lullabies and laments of a mother on her treacherous journey toward refuge.  La Madre Triste has been expanded for Habitat Home.   

La Madre Triste  and Piececitos as a whole use 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.

Habitat Home is a community arts project facilitated by JuliaBarryProductions. sponsored, in part, by a Puffin West Grant, the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council, and by a New York Women Composers Seed Money Grant.