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for solo flute/bass flute and ensemble
ISMN : 979-0-2325-3705-4
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This chamber concerto draws on images from the 1585 Florentine Codex of Bernardino Sahagun. Known in English as A General History of the Things of New Spain, this codex is regarded as the first ethnographic study of pre- Columbian Mexico. This piece focuses on the final volume, The Conquest, and in particular, on the accounts of the omens that were in circulation among the Nahua (Aztecs) some years before. Though written in a temporally and culturally specific context, these texts are striking for their sheer poetic beauty as well as their universal evocations of loss, fear and hope. One of the more arresting passages is as follows,
A sixth omen: often was heard a woman going weeping, going crying out. Loudly did she cry out at night. She walked about saying: “¡O hijos míos, ya nos perdimos (O My sons, now we are about to go)!” Sometimes she said: “¿O hijos míos, adónde os llevaré (My sons, where am I to take you)”?
This depiction bears a striking similarity to the figure of la llorona (the Weeping Woman), a ghostly figure that appears in various forms in the folklore of Mesoamerica and whose cries fortell the coming of death and misfortune. In some accounts, if her cry sounds close at hand then the spirit is far away and all is well, but if she sounds distant then la llorona is in reality close by and death will come soon. In an exploration of this disorienting experience of space and distance, the ensemble is amplified and its sound sent to various unpredictable locations in the performance hall. This work was commissioned by the Talea Ensemble with support from New Music USA for the 2012 Contempuls Festival, Prague.
Barry Crawford - flute solo
Pages - 42