TWO GRANDFATHERS (2017) - for mezzo soprano, violin, acoustic guitar, harp, piano

Premiere: Da Camera @ the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, April 7th, 2017

 

Duration:  ca. 9 min

 

Program Note:

Commissioned by the Da Camera Young Artist Program in conjunction with the Houston Museum of Fine Arts Adios Utopia Exhibition.

Text by Nicolás Cristóbal Guillén Batista (1902-1989)

Shadows which only I see,
I'm watched by my two grandfathers. 
A bone-point lance, a drum of hide and wood:
my black grandfather.
A ruff on a broad neck, a warrior's gray armament:
my white grandfather.
Africa's humid jungles with thick and muted gongs . . . 
''I'm dying!'' (My black grandfather says). 
Waters dark with alligators, morning green with coconuts . . . 
''I'm tired!'' (My white grandfather says).

Oh sails of a bitter wind, galleon burning for gold . . .
''I'm dying'' (My black grandfather says).
Oh coasts with virgin necks deceived with beads of glass . . . 
''I'm tired!''(My white grandfather says).

Oh pure and burnished sun, imprisoned in the tropic's ring; 
Oh clear and rounded moon above the sleep of monkeys!

So many ships, so many ships! 
So many Blacks, so many Blacks! 
So much resplendent cane!
How harsh the trader's whip!
A rock of tears and blood,
of veins and eyes half-open,
of empty dawns and plantation sunsets,
and a great voice, a strong voice, splitting the silence.
So many ships, so many Blacks!

Shadows which only I see,
I'm watched by my two grandfathers.
Don Federico yells at me and Taita Facundo is silent; 
Both dreaming in the night, and walking, walking
I bring them together... ''Federico! Facundo!'' 
They embrace, they sigh.
They raise their sturdy heads; both of equal size,
Beneath the high stars; both of equal size,
A Black longing, a White longing, both of equal size.

They scream, dream, weep, sing. 
They dream, weep, sing.
They weep, sing. 
Sing!