Music: Sun May 6

Musical guest mezzo-soprano Anna Tonna joins us on Sunday morning with selections from Latin-American and Spanish sources. Pastoral imagery—in keeping with the theme of Flower Communion Sunday—abounds in the Renaissance-era poetry by the Portuguese Gil Vicente as well as in the Impressionistic music of Colombian composer Antonio Maria Valencia featured in the Offertory.

Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge offers powerful evocations of colonial Cuba, using texts which point to the dehumanizing impact of stereotyping, even as the music seduces and entices. Montsalvatge’s Cinco canciones negras, written in 1945, open with Cuba dentro de un piano, which wryly derides popular Caribbean clichés (the fruit-hatted lady, the ubiquitous cigar smoke, the singing parrot) and squarely points the finger at American colonialist attitudes: “Money was to blame…later, ah later…they changed SI into YES!” The Punto de Habanera features the pervasive rhythm of a Cuban guajira dance and poetry rich in floral references. In this song, a young Creole woman, clad in white, is held up to the ogling eyes of sailors by the speaker in the poem in yet another reference to the objectifying tendencies of colonial culture. Elsewhere in the cycle—performed complete at this afternoon’s concert—scenes of domestic life—encompassing both maternal tenderness and anguished violence—give way in the final number to a celebration of the durability of Afro-Cuban rhythms.

The CUUC Choir is also on hand with the life-affirming message of “What a Wonderful World” and a Navaho text which speaks to harmony within the natural world. Read on for programming details and text translations, and please stay after brunch to hear more of Anna Tonna and the CUUC Choir!

Centering Music: Anna Tonna, mezzo-soprano; Adam Kent, piano
Tres poemas de Gil Vicente
Joaquin Nin-Culmell
Cuba dentro de un piano
Punto de Habanera
                                                Xavier Montsalvatge

Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
What A Wonderful World
George David Weiss and Bob Thiele, arr. by Mark Brymer
La luna sobre el agua de los lagos...            
Antonio Maria Valencia

Now I Walk In Beauty   
Navaho prayer, music by Gregg Smith

Song Translations
Tres poemas de Gil Vicente
Where will I traverse these mountains
Gentle brown haired girl?
Where will I go thru?
Not with you. I alone will go.

Tell me country girl
By your faith
If you were born in these parts.
Where will I traverse these mountains,
Gentle brown haired girl?

You will stay here...
Do you love me?
Because of this, country girl
I cannot...
Because another love, makes war within me

Where will I traverse these mountains,
Gentle brown haired girl?

Ro, ro, ro, our Lord and redeemer
Don't cry, for you give sorrow to the
Virgin that gave you life!

Ro, ro, ro
Child, son of God the Father
Father of all things
May your tears cease
Your mother will not cry,
As she gave birth to you without pain

Ro, ro ro,
Don't you give her grief,
Pray child, ro, ro, ro...

Which is the girl that gathers flowers
If she has no lover?

The girl gathered
the flowers in bloom,
The young farmer noticed her charms
and asked if she had a lover

Cuba dentro de un piano - Cuba inside a piano
Text by Rafael Alberti

When my mother wore strawberry ice for a hat
and the smoke from the boats was still Havana cigar smoke.
Mulata fallen low...
Cádiz was falling asleep among fandango and habanera rhythms
and a little parrot at the piano tried to be like a tenor.
Tell me, where is the flower that man reveres so much.
My uncle Anthony would come home with his air of insurrection.
La Cabaña and El Príncipe rang along the port courtyards.
(The blue pearl of the Caribbean shines no more.
It has blown out, it has died.)
I ran into beautiful Trinidad...
Cuba was lost, this time it was true.
It was true, it was not a lie.
A gunner on the run arrived, singing about it in Guajira rhythm.
Havana was lost.
Money was to blame...
The gunner went silent, fell.
But later, ah, later…
they changed into YES!

Punto de Habanera - 18th Century Habanera Strain
Text by Néstor Luján

The creole girl goes by in her white crinoline. How white!
Hello, the gauze of your foam. Sailors, get a look at her!
She walks, moist from the moon-like droplets on her dusky skin.
Little girl do not fret, just this evening
I’d like to order the water
not to escape suddenly from the prison of your skirt.
Your body encloses, this evening, the murmur of a dahlia opening.
Little girl, don’t fret.
Your fruit-like body is asleep in the embroidered brocade.
Your fine waist snaps with the nobility of a whip.
All your skin smells joyfully of lemon and orange trees.
The sailors are watching you, and they keep watching.
The creole girl goes by in her white crinoline. How white!

La luna sobre el agua de los lagos...       
The moonlight shines over the waters of the lake...
Text by Otto de Greiff

Sweetly, the moon shines upon the waters of the lake
Transcending all romantic thoughts within me,
Within you and in nature, as well as the ballads of the north,
Imitating your vibrant eyes.

The light illuminating your hair shines sweetly,
Making the bothersome sorrows that weight upon men
Disappear while escaping into the sparkling silent night.

The moon - that lamp of God - bathes us with serene
glow, while glorifying your divine gifts,
Blessed Nature!

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