Lúa Descolorida (2002)
“A dead man in Spain is more dead there than anywhere else” said García Lorca, explaining that Spanish poets define rather than allude. Lúa Descolorida, a poem by Lorca's beloved Rosalía de Castro written in Gallego (the language of the Galicia region in Spain) defines despair in a way that is simultaneously tender and tragic. The musical setting is a constellation of clearly defined symbols that affirm contradictory things at the same time, becoming in the end a suspended question mark. The song is at once a slow motion ride in a cosmic horse, an homage to Couperin's melismas in his Lessons of Tenebrae, and velvet bells coming from three different churches. But the strongest inspiration for Lúa Descolorida was Dawn Upshaw's rainbow of a voice, and I wanted to give her music so quietly radiant that it would bring an echo of the single tear that Schubert brings without warning in his voicing of a C major chord. The original version of this song was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition and premiered by Dawn Upshaw and Gilbert Kalish in April 1999.