Fantasy/Lullaby (2013)

for SATB Chorus and Piano

Text from “Fantasy” by Sara Teasdale and Federico García Lorca, “On Lullabies”

Download PDF

Duration: 4 min.

Almost a hundred years ago, Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca embarked upon a quest to catalog lullabies from every corner of Spain. In his 1928 lecture “On Lullabies”, he shares the impression that “Spain utilizes its saddest melodies and most melancholy texts to tinge her children’s first slumber…. The European cradle song’s only object is to lull the child to sleep, unlike the Spanish which at the same time pierces its sensibility.” In beginning a piece inspired by lullabies, this piercing sadness and severity of text was much on my mind, and I chose to set the text of one lullaby Lorca heard in Cáceres:

Sleep now, my child, go to sleep,
your mother’s no longer here,
the Virgin came, she has gone
far away to live with her.

I juxtaposed this text with “Fantasy”, a pastoral piece by the American poet Sara Teasdale (1884–1933).

Her voice is like clear water
That drips upon a stone
In forests far and silent
Where Quiet plays alone.

Her thoughts are like the lotus
Abloom by sacred streams
Beneath the temple arches
Where Quiet sits and dreams.

Her kisses are the roses
That glow while dusk is deep
In Persian garden closes
Where Quiet falls asleep.

In overlaying and molding the two texts together, I found the curious women mentioned (the Virgin and the absent mother in the lullaby, the character of “Quiet” in the Teasdale text) beginning to blur into one other. In addition, I enjoyed discovering that the contrasting rhythms implied by each text began to infect one another, disturbing the solidity of the simple modal accompaniment.