Alabanza

2003; medium voice, violin, piano, 3 latin perc, double bass-2.2.2.2-4.3.3.1-timp.2perc-str. 6′

In 1998 Latin Fiesta asked me to write music on a poem by a friend of theirs, the internationally known poet Sonia Sanchez. They have since performed A Song of Sonia Sanchez dozens of times and have recorded it on their CD Amor a la Vida. I also expanded it for their programs with symphonies, adding orchestral backup to their ensemble.

When the opportunity arose for such a program in 2003 with the Pottstown Symphony, near Philadelphia, they asked me if I’d like to compose a companion piece. Alabanza is the result, setting text by Sanchez and from the Psalms. This may be performed with the first work, or separately. In both of these works one may hear not a little pop influence from the 1970s.

The tapping heard in the recording is the onstage dancer.

Commissioned by the Pottstown Symphony Orchestra, with partial support from the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia. First performance Pottstown, Pa., 8 November 2003, Latin Fiesta and the Pottstown Symphony Orchestra, Rosalind Erwin conductor, Vonia Taylor mezzo-soprano. Score and parts are in the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music, the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Text from “Morning Song and Evening Walk” by Sonia Sanchez (used by permission), Psalm 147:3,4, and Psalm 148:13.

Tonite in need of you
and God
I move imperfect
through this ancient city.

Quiet. No one hears
No one feels the tears
of multitudes

Alabanza. Alabemos al Señor.
[Praise. Praise the Lord.]

The silence thickens
I have lost the shore
of your kind seasons
who will hear my voice

El sana á los quebrantados de corazón, y liga sus heridas,
El cuenta el nùmero de las estrellas.
[He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.
He tells the number of the stars.]

Alaben el nombre de Jehová, porque sólo su nombre es elevado;
Su gloria es sobre tierra y cielos.
[Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is excellent;
his glory is above the earth and heaven.]

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