Stephen Hartke


ALVORADA (1983) Three Madrigals for String Orchestra Commissioned by the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra Duration: 16 minutes I. Cantiga da alva II. Cantiga de amigo III. Bailada Alvorada is a Portuguese word denoting a piece of music performed at daybreak as a greeting to a loved one. The three movements which comprise my Alvorada for string orchestra have as their points of departure three medieval Portuguese love lyrics which might conceivably have been sung in such an early morning concert. The opening stanza of the first poem stands as an epigraph to the entire work: Levad', amigo, que dormides as manhãas frias; todalas aves do mundo d'amor dizian: leda m' and' eu. -- Nuno Fernandez Torneol  (13th c.) (Arise, my love, you who sleep through the cool mornings; All the birds of the world sang of love: Joyfully I go.) In using literary models as starting points for the composition of an 'abstract' piece of music, I sought in particular to mirror the parallelistic verse structure characteristic of the Portuguese-Galician lyric. Thus each movement is founded upon variants of the familiar pattern of verse and refrain alternation. The first movement -- Cantiga da alva -- presents long unaccompanied melodic statements alternating with motet-like polyphonic refrains in a canticle to the dawn. The second movement derives from the most important of the old Portuguese poetic forms, the Cantiga de amigo, one which traditionally offers a young woman's lament over the absence of her lover. many of these cantigas are cast as dialogues between the young woman and her mother, and this aspect is reflected in my presentation of two related but contrasting themes. The poetic source for the finale -- Bailada -- depicts three girls dancing in the shade of a hazel tree. I have cast it as an exuberant dance-song built on a simple triadic motif.
Recording: Boston Modern Orchestra Project Gil Rose, Conductor BMOP 1050
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YouTube: BMOP Gil Rose, Conductor