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That the dove may rest

A song for mixed chorus (SSAATB) and mezzo-soprano accompanied by Gamelan (ad lib percussion), viola and cello. Composed in 2009.

Instrumentation: SSAATB choir, mezzo-soprano solo, gamelan (ad lib percussion), viola, cello

Duration: 20 min.

View the full text of this piece

View a PDF sample of the score

Listen to a radio interview with Houston Public Radio featuring the piece

Click here to download the MP3 audio recording of the premiere performance

United Nations Association International Choir President Geneva Siemens writes:

"'Thank you' seems so inadequate to fully express to you the feelings of our entire Choir for the amazing and triumphal flight of your and our special dove. The creation of "That the dove may rest" was only possible because of your musical knowledge and talent, your expressive gifts and your ability to take Phillip's challening, amazing concepts and blend them with your deep spirituality into a soaring paean of dark and light, pain and healing, grief and joy: the universal dichotomy of our existence. It was absolutely worth every second we sweated over it in rehearsal and every worry we sustained whether we would actually be ready in time for our performance..."

Commissioned by Phillip Kloeckner, Artistic Director of the United Nations Association International Choir of Houston, Texas

Premiere: Rice University (2009)


No puedo

No puedo cerrar mis puertas
ni clausurar mis ventanas:
he de salir al camino
donde el mundo gira y clama,
he de salir al camino
a ver la muerte que pasa.

He de salir a mirar
cómo crece y se derrama
sobre el planeta encogido
la desatinada raza
que quiebra su fuente y luego
llora la ausencia del agua.

He de salir a esperar
el turbión de las palabras
que sobre la tierra cruza
y un flor los cantos arrasa,
he de salir a escuchar
el fuego entre nieve y zarza.

No puedo cerrar las puertas
ni clausurar las ventanas,
el laúd en las rodillas
y de esfinges rodeada,
puliendo azules respuestas
a sus preguntas en llamas.

Mucha sangre está corriendo
de las heridas cerradas,
mucha sangre está
por el ayer y la mañana,
y un gran ruído de torrente
viene a golpear en el alba.

Salgo a camino y escucho,
salgo a ver la luz turbada;
un cruel resuello de ahogado
sobre las bocas estalla,
y contra el cielo impasible
se pierde en nubes de escarcha.

Ni en el fondo de la noche
se detiene la ola amarga,
llena de niños que suben
con la sonrisa cortada,
ni en el fondo de la noche
queda una paloma en calma.

No puedo cerrar mis puertas
ni clausurar mis ventanas.
A mi diestra mano el sueño
mueve una iracunda espada
y echa rodando a mis pies
una rosa mutilada.

Tengo los brazos caídos
convicta de sombra y nada;
un olvidado perfume
muerde mis manos extrañas,
pero no puedo cerrar
las puertas y las ventanas,

y he de salir al camino
a ver la muerte que pasa.

Sara de Ibáñez, 1967
Reprinted by permission of
Andrea Silva Ibáñez

I Cannot

I cannot close my doors
nor fasten my windows
--which look out on the road
where the world spins and clamors
--which look out on the road
to see death passing by.

--Which look out and see
how the restless species,
flourishing and spreading
over the shrunken planet,
destroys its origins and then
laments the absence of water.

--which look out to wait for
the wildness of the words
that cross the earth and, blossoming
crack the stones apart.
--which look out to attend
the snow between fire and brambles

I cannot close the doors
nor fasten the windows,
the flute on the knees
and the sphinx enclosed,
polishing blue responses
to its questions, in tears.

Much blood is flowing
from the closed wounds;
much blood is flowing
for yesterday and tomorrow
and a great flooding noise
comes to crash against the dawn.

I go out to the road and I listen,
I go out to watch the troubling lights;
a fierce breath of anguish
explodes in front of the mouths
and is lost in clouds of frost
against the impenetrable sky.

It never stops, not even in the depths
of the night, the bitter wave
filled with children rising
with half-smiles,
not even in the depths of the night
does the dove rest calmly.

I cannot close my doors,
nor fasten my windows.
At my right hand the dream
flourishes an angry sword
and throws a mutilated rose,
rolling, to my feet.

My arms fall, convicted
of shadow and nothingness,
a forgotten scent
destroys my strange hands,
but I cannot close
the doors or the windows
--which look out on the road
to see death passing by.

Trans. Andrew Rosing
Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry
University of Texas Press, 1996

A Traditional Navajo Prayer

Note on the text: The Navajo Chantway ceremonies, among the most moving and lovely of all oral poetries, were sung mainly by men at the time of their recording by anthropologists, but were reported to have their original source in Changing Woman, daughter of First Man and mother of the Navajo people. This selection is from the Shootingway ceremony, used to cure illnesses; the prayer was repeated four times in front of a carefully selected young piñon tree as the final act of the ceremony.

Dark young pine, at the center of the earth, originating,
I have made your sacrifice.
Whiteshell, turquoise, abalone beautiful,
Jet beautiful, fool's gold beautiful, blue pollen beautiful,
reed pollen, pollen beautiful, your sacrifice I have made.
This day your child I have become, I say.

Watch over me.
Hold your hand before me in protection.
Stand guard for me, speak in defense of me.
As I speak for you, speak for me.
As you speak for you, so will I speak for you.
May it be beautiful before me,
May it be beautiful behind me,
May it be beautiful below me,
May it be beautiful above me,
May it be beautiful all around me.

I am restored in beauty.
I am restored in beauty.
I am restored in beauty.
I am restored in beauty.

Traditional Navajo Prayer, early 20th c.
Gladys A. Reichard, translator


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