Llum (Light) (2013-2016)

I. Tanca els ulls (Close Your Eyes)
II. Camina endins (Walk Inside)
III. Baixa al cim de l'ànima (Descent to the Summit of the Soul)
IV. Pedra nua (Naked Stone)
V. Pau al Cor (The Peaceful Heart)
VI. Engrunes de llum (Luminous Crumbs)
VII. Al.leluia (Alleluia)

Text by Vicenç Santamaria
A cappella choir
47 minutes


25 March 2020
Auditori Pau Casals. L'Auditori. Barcelona, Spain
Latvian Radio Choir. Sigvards Klava, conductor

Programme note
Llum (Light) is an invitation to take a journey inward, to travel to the immense space which is, precisely, what makes us human, to that silent place which exists within us, to the deep wellspring that is the birthplace of everything, to the bright sapling of Peace; to the infinite, which announces the Mystery; to the gift of Life, Peace and Love.

The texts which accompany each of the seven stages of this inner pilgrimage were written by my friend Vicenç Santamaria, a monk from the monastery of Monserrat. The words have been set to music for a variety of choral formations -mixed choir, female voice choir, double choir-, and for different soloists. All the pieces are composed to be sung a cappella, and in Luminous Crumbs crotales and bar chimes have been added.

Tanca els ulls (Close Your Eyes) is a lullaby which invites us to set out, confident and grateful, on an inner journey. The serene melody, sung by the solo soprano, builds from a single note and interacts with the progressive changes in the harmonic fields of the choir -a variant of klangfarbenmelodie- while expressing the different moods and reactions experienced along the path of withdrawal and introspection.

Camina endins (Walk Inside) is a mystic passacaglia based on the succession of a sequence of five chords. These develop at the same time as the fundamental bass moves into the lower register of the voice. The transitions between harmonies provide an allegory for the process experienced by the one who walks, of transformations of inner landscapes. The soloist’s quiet, withdrawn beginning, suggesting serenity, expands until it reaches the height of tenderness. Finally, the overtone singing weaves an enveloping cushion of sound which evokes an aspect inherent to the process of walking within: confidence.

Baixa al cim de l'Ànima (Descent to the Summit of the Soul) reflects the calm and placid state of mind of the first verses of the poem. There is no lineal argument -as the verse says, ‘without anxiety and avid for nothing’- and the piece is articulated in five brief sections that are both circular and cyclical, based on the harmonic interval of the minor second. With a delicate pianissimo dynamic, and with two singers located behind the stage -alto lontano- who interact with the choir to provide a quality of distant profundity, the piece evokes the intimate and silent place of the soul’s summit.

Pedra nua (Naked Stone) is a contrapuntal work comprising a retrograde canon in the female voices and a canon on the octave which functions as a drone in the male voices. The austerity of the technique of invertible counterpoint generates, with very few notes, great complexity of intervallic relationships. I have used this technique in order to create a sparse music -'in the face of the coldness of naked stone'- which, at the same time, is nevertheless worked in such a way as to make reference to the complexity of Life that has its origin, as the second verse says, in ‘the great silence’.

The detailed and delicate creations by Vicenç Santamaria in his work Engrunes de Llum (Luminous Crumbs) led me to compose music for the verses which accompany its different parts. The depth of silence communicated by each scene is translated musically into a series of ten stable chords -motionless below, deep in tone, but full of life and movement on the surface- sung by the main choir. These contrast with the crumbs evoked by the ringing notes of the soloists, reinforced by the resonant crotales struck by the singers themselves.  As the piece progresses, the register of the lower voices increases in consistency and profundity until the end where the entire vocal field -from basses to sopranos- resonates fully, invoking the final line: Embrace, with all your being, the Mystery inside you, in everything and everywhere.

The text of Al·leluia (Alleluia), together with the experience of hearing a number of anonymous, eighteenth-century Orthodox plainchants, provided the necessary inspiration for the composition of music that is calm and peaceful, radiating serene joy. The inclusion of long pauses between phrases and the endless repetition of four chords in the tenor and bass parts encourages us to listen deeply and to respond with joy to the gifts of music and of Life.

Those to whom I have dedicated the different movements of this work are people who have coincided with me along my path and who, in one way or another, irradiate Light: my first yoga teacher, Mabel Pérez, my friend Emili and his lovely family -Patrícia, Celina, Míriam and Estel-, my friend Natàlia, my friend -composer extraordinaire- Bernat Vivancos, my godparents Ramon and Montserrat, and my friend Muntsa, all of them much loved individuals.

Ramon Humet. Vilanova d’Escornalbou, 23 April 2016
Translation: Rebecca Simpson

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2nd string quartet (forthcoming)

String quartet
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Season 2020/2021
Quartet Gerhard

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