• 2(pic).2(ca).2(bcl).2/2.2Ctpt.2.0/timp.3perc/pf(cel).hp/str
  • Viola
  • 19 min

Programme Note

Dedicated to my dear friend Wayne Brooks, La Llorona: Tone Poem for Viola and Orchestra is inspired by the many existing myths in Latin America regarding a female spirit known as la llorona, or "crying woman." Somewhat similar to female ghosts from other cultures (such as the rusalka from Russia or the Kuchisake-onna from Japan), the llorona generally comes about as the result of a violent death: drowning, suicide, childbirth, and murder at the hands of a lover are common causes. The riverbanks are typically the places where one might encounter the llorona, for these are frequently the sites of the tragedies that took away her human life.

This programmatic work is a portrait of the internal shift that happens as the llorona accepts her new existence. It consists of seven continuous movements:
I. Slumber: It is just minutes after the llorona has lost her human life and crossed over into the new realm. Not fully conscious, she is still in the fog of a supernatural sleep.

II. Awakening: After the quiet orchestral tutti which builds, the solo viola’s entrance signals that the llorona has sprung to new life.

III. Flight: The llorona denies this new reality and tries to escape, literally. Irrationally, she runs here and there, crying for what was.

IV. Danza de las Chullpas: In the course of fleeing her fate, the llorona stumbles upon a scene of other spirits normally unseen to humans. The chullpas are ancient spirits (hailing from Peruvian culture) in the form of skeletons hobbled over from having been bound into fetal positions as mummies. The llorona reluctantly begins to realize that she has indeed crossed over into another realm.

V. Canto de la Luna: Revered in many cultures, the moon is often a female deity that communicates with humans and spirits alike. Here, moonlight sings to the llorona, asking her to find acceptance.

VI. Flight: The llorona cannot find it in herself to accept, and tries once again to escape.

VII. Coda: The llorona slowly retreats into the shadows to join the other spirits unseen by the rest of us. It is the acknowledgement that tragically, she simply can’t change what’s not hers to change.
— Gabriela Lena Frank