for solo harp
Commissioned by Maria Luisa Rayan
Premiere: Indiana University – November 2002
Duration: 8 minutes



Despedida is a deeply nostalgic work based on a poem by Frederico Garcia Lorca that describes a crossroads at which one must leave something behind. The desired musical affect is approached in a general way through the harmonic tone and melodic style of the work, which are characterized by diatonic modes and subtle chromatic inflections. More specifically, the idea of reminiscence, inherent in feelings of nostalgia, is suggested by subjecting the same motivic materials to a variety of changing contexts and in a way demonstrating how memory alters perception. Often times, these changing contexts are “announced” by a recurring guitar-like gesture, which serves as a kind of wake-up call in the midst of the various reveries that take place. This “guitar-like” gesture, an arpeggiation of open fifths with an added semi-tone, also serves as the dramatic opening of the piece and contains the origins of the harmonic language that follows. The various sections of the piece correspond directly to lines from the poem, a translation of which is provided below. Despedida was written for Maria Luisa Rayan.

“Saying Goodbye” (“Despedida”)

I’ll be saying goodbye
at the crossroads,
heading off down that road through my soul.

I’ll arouse reminiscences,
stir up mean hours.
I’ll arrive at the garden spot
in my song (my white song),
& I’ll start in to shiver & shake
like the morning star.