• Gabriela Lena Frank
  • Songs of Cifar and the Sweet Sea (choral version) (2014)

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)
  • 2pf, 2vn, va, vc
  • SATB
  • Soprano, Baritone
  • 1 hr 15 min

Programme Note

Composer Note
Songs of Cifar and the Sweet Sea draws on poetry by the Nicaraguan poet Pablo Antonio Cuadra (1912-2002). As a young man, Cuadra spent more than two decades sailing the waters of Lake Nicaragua, meeting peasants, fishermen, sailors, woodcutters, and timber merchants in his travels. From such encounters, he was inspired to construct a cycle of poems that recount the odyssey of a harp-playing mariner, Cifar, who likewise travels the waters of Lake Nicaragua. In my initial reading of the poems, I was struck by how Cuadra writes of commonplace objects and people but ties them to the undercurrents of his country's past of indigenous folklore. Despite Cuadra's plain vocabulary, ordinary things are thus rendered mythical, revealing Cifar's capacity for wonder and passionate lyricism.

Knowing that I had a treasure trove of poetry to spark my composer's imagination, I sent out to choose a limited selection of poems to set, but it wasn't long before I knew that I would have to set them all, making for a full evening-length program. In addition, I knew I would have to broaden my vision to include another singer — Cifar, represented by a baritone drawing on traditional Nicaraguan vocal practices, would need a female singer to carry the many women that figure in his life. And finally, while my experience accompanying singers tells me that the piano is an admirable lieder partner, perfectly suited to evoke typical Nicaraguan marimba and guitar sounds, I also know that upon the song cycle's completion, I will create another version scoring the piano part for full orchestra.

— Gabriela Lena Frank



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