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A bird in the garden

for orchestra and two female voices

This piece was written in the Young Composers Meeting 2013 (Holland). During one week, young composers had the opportunity of working together with orkest de erepris and singers from the Royal Conservatory of Den Haag, under the mentoring of the following teachers: Louis Andriessen, Martijn Padding, Richard Ayres, Carola Bauckholt and Dmitri Kourliandski.

The poem was written by Friedrich Daumer (1800-1875); the English translation is found in the Liebeslieder Waltzer by Johannes Brahms:

A little pretty bird took flight
Into the garden fair, where fruit was plentiful.
Were I a pretty little bird,
I’d not delay, I’d do the same as he.

Treacherous lime trap lies in wait;
Poor little bird could not escape.
Were I a pretty little bird,
I’d think again, not do the same as he.

The bird it came into a maiden’s hand,
And there was safe, the lucky one.
Were I a pretty little bird,
I’d not delay, I’d do the same as he.

Performers
orkest de erepris
Singers: Gosia Stencel and Ginette Puylaert
Conductor: Rob Vermeulen

Location
Recording: Theaterzaal Gigant in Apeldoorn (Holland)
Also: Gaudeamus Music Week 2013

Date
22-02-2013

Sul

for ensemble

The name of the piece – Sul (south) – alludes to a sound world coming from southern Europe. Besides a particular use of the plucked instruments, where the guitar and mandolin play an important role, I was inspired by the ornamentation, the lamento expression, and some modes used in this region. The last section of the piece is an arrangement made after a Sephardic melody (from the medieval song Lavava y suspirava) which is, for me, a sum of the musical richness and confluences found in the traditional music of the Iberian Peninsula.

This piece was developed under the project Transmission possible from the Nieuw Ensemble.

Performers
Recording: Nieuw Ensemble
Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa, conducted
by Mark Simpson

Location
Conservatory of Amsterdam
Teatro Nacional de São Carlos

Date
10-06-2011
2019

Floating

for small ensemble

This piece was written as part of hcmf//’s European Composers’ Professional Development Programme.

Floating was created in collaboration with Icarus Ensemble in two workshops. One way to invite collaboration was the use of recorded sounds coming from my own voice, to which the musicians reacted through their instruments. We started by exploring timbre combinations between voice and the wind instruments from the ensemble, and these experiences became the guiding thread to the final piece.

I’m very thankful to the kind, joyful and creative collaboration from Icarus Ensemble.

Performers
Icarus Ensemble

Location
Huddersfield Contemporary Music
Festival (UK)

Date
2012

Music for ECO

a sound drama by Teatro do Frio

This piece is part of the music for ECO – a musical drama in the landscape – by Teatro do Frio.

ECO is a sound drama that looks at the landscape through the body, orality, sound and acoustics, focusing its search in moments of beauty that occur for no plausible purpose. This desire is based on the premise that any urban or rural landscape comprises stories and a multifaceted life composed of more or less visible phenomena, which in turn, are experienced more or less consciously by the people who inhabit these spaces.

Performers
Cello: Ana Isabel Oliveira
Harp: Angélica Salvi
Flute: Sílvia Cancela
Violin: Henrique Apolinário
Studio recording made by Quico Serrano

Location
ECO was presented at Parque de S. Paio,
Vila Nova de Gaia

Date
September 2017

Breve Desassossego

for orchestra, soprano and baritone

Developed in the context of the ENOA workshop “Composing for voices”, under the tutoring of Luis Tinoco. The first excerpt is instrumental; the second excerpt is based in a short entry from the Book of Disquiet, describing the movement of moonlight in the river and sea water:

“Surge dos lados do oriente a luz loura do luar de ouro.
O rastro que faz no rio largo abre serpentes no mar.”

“The blond light of the golden moon shines out of the east.
The shimmer it forms on the wider river opens into snakes on the sea.”

(free translation)

(Text by Fernando Pessoa / Bernardo Soares, in Livro do Desassossego.)

Performers
Orquestra Gulbenkian
Singers: Tiago Matos and Lara Martins
Conductor: Pedro Neves

Location
Fundação Gulbenkian

Date
2019

A Portuguese Lullaby: Dorme meu menino

for female voice, harp and Portuguese guitar

The lyrics of Dorme meu menino come from a Portuguese traditional lullaby, and the music is original.

Performers
Voice: Aleksandra Bajde
Harp: Anneleen Schuitmaker
Portuguese Guitar: Rafael Fraga

Location
Composers’ Festival, at the Conservatory of Amsterdam

Date
9-06-2012

Andaluz

for ensemble

This piece was inspired by the descriptions of Andalusian music as it was practiced in the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages, found in the books “O meu coração é Árabe” and “Arabesco da Música Árabe e da Música Portuguesa” from Adalberto Alves. My guideline was to suggest some of the environments that are part of an Andalusian musical event (Nuba), but in an essentially free and intuitive way.

Performers
Remix Ensemble

Location
Casa da Música, Porto

Date
June 2008

Arrangement: Lavava y suspirava

for ensemble

I came across the song Lavava y suspirava by its interpretation from Montserrat Figueras and Hespèrion XXI. Coming from a Sephardic origin, it was sung in the Iberian Peninsula at the time of the queen Isabel I, in the 15th century. This song brings to me echoes of a time where Jewish and Arabic poetry and music were listened everywhere in the peninsula. The immaterial nature of sound makes difficult to rebuild such a beautiful and rich confluence; and from this longing to listen was born the will to do this transcription.

The distance between the time where this song was circling in the peninsula and the time of the transcription brings the necessity to raise the attention to hear, as if we were listening from behind a closed door. In some moments we can listen to the original melody more clearly, and in others a little opacity comes.

I respected the pitches of the song’s melody, and the rhythmic flow – however, as it is originally sung in a flexible and free way, and I transcribed only for instruments, there is some freedom in the rhythm. The short introduction was freely composed by myself.

Performers
Nieuw Ensemble.
Instrumentation: Flute, Clarinet (in b flat),
Mandolin, Guitar, Harp, Percussion, Viola
and Violoncello

Location
Den Bosh (Holland), and the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam)

Date
April 2011

A Civilização

for soprano and ensemble

This piece had as its starting point the book “The city and the mountains” (A cidade e as serras) from the Portuguese writer Eça de Queirós.

I gave a special attention to the passages where the humor in its various forms (picturesque, humorous, ironic, etc.), assumes the leading role. Among these, I retained particularly the descriptions of the going to the opera: it is regarded as a social event, an excuse to show the best clothes, accessories and makeup (the famous face powder). The solo soprano takes the role of attraction – she must have an impressive pose of diva and thrill the audience with her dramatic skills.

Another situation widely described by Eça de Queirós concerns the ‘gadgets’ of the urban civilization of the 19th century – appliances sometimes of dubious utility that could become a nightmare if mishandled or damaged. If used extensively could also have the disadvantage of making everyday life very dull.

Performers
Voice: Aleksandra Bajde
Harp: Anneleen Schuitmaker
Portuguese Guitar: Rafael Fraga

Location
Composers’ Festival, at the Conservatory of Amsterdam

Date
9-06-2012

Adormecer

for orchestra

This piece has two main moments. In the first one there is more flow of activity; each instrument has an independent voice that stands out or goes to the background complementing the other voices. The second moment is more static: the melodies of each instrument will be diluted to result in a harmonious whole, lightly punctuated by some melodic drawings.

The analogy expressed in the title alludes to the moment where, falling asleep, we are assailed by various thoughts, even if unintentional, and how these are becoming more vague, giving place to a smooth and quiet rest.

Performers
Sinfonieta of ESMAE (students’ orchestra
from Escola Superior de Música e Artes
do Espectáculo do Porto)

Location
Teatro Helena Sá e Costa (ESMAE), Porto

Date
February 2007

In the Middle

for an ensemble from Atlas Academy

Atlas Academy is a laboratory for the creation of innovative intercultural music, where composers work closely with musicians from all over the world.

I’ve tried to find a melodic and harmonic ground that would be inviting for the musicians to create short phrases and to give their own expression and rhythmic flow to the parts I’ve written. The very final of the sketch is a vocal improvisation by Elchin Nagijev.

Performers
Kamancha: Elshan Mansurov (Azerbaijan)
Duduk: Gevorg Dabaghian (Armenia)
Tar: Elchin Nagijev (Azerbaijan)
Qanun: Bassem Alkhouri (Syria)
Harp: Ernestine Stoop (The Netherlands)

Location
Workshop Atlas Academy, in the
Conservatory of Amsterdam

Date
August/September 2011

Claro-escuro

for electronics

This piece has departed from an audio format considered “less sophisticated” – the general midi – with the goal of creating several variables to give it a more personal and characteristic sonority. The title comes from the subtleties and variations that exist within a black and white tool.

Performers
Electronics

Location
Played in several events, including “Festival Atlante Sonoro XXI”, in Roma

Date
April 2011