In this list you can see works of great humanitarian value. You and your singers can enjoy experimenting with new styles and new languages. With these works, your repertoire can increase cultural diversity by addressing a large number of social and spiritual themes. Without further ado, let’s get started and enjoy this musical journey.
1. ALMAS DE BARRO
I wrote Almas de Barro at the age of 19, dedicating it to a young woman who at the time was shy and with whom he rarely talked. This piece intimately describes the moments during music theory classes when the two would look at each other continuously, youthfully, and silently, as if unable to do anything else.
The piece, written as a counterpoint assignment, was intended to be performed during music theory class as a declaration of love. The idea was to make a musical representation of those moments. This work begins without words, the voices representing youthful looks. They come together and occasionally dodge each other to highlight the discomfort of the situation, only to come back together within a few seconds. The poem conveys that all this is a fantasy, a dream state in which, upon awakening, will be lost. As the work progresses, the voices begin to detach from each other. When they awaken, they realize that they are lost and in complete solitude, this being the only thing they have in common. Last comes the coda, longing to return to sleep and to the fantasy dream.
This piece was written to sow hope and illuminate in the most difficult moments. It is a piece full of emotion and power. Intended to unite numerous choirs and make each singer do his or her best to have a challenge to overcome.
History of the work
I wrote this piece in one of the greatest crises of my life. In 2013 the place where I lived suffered a flood, I lost my home, my job and I went back to live with my mother. In that situation I looked for melodies that relate to the loss. And how I felt that nothing was mine, I decided to use other people’s melodies. So I read the story of “When David Heard,” a piece by Eric Whitacre commissioned to commemorate the murder of director Ronald Staheli’s son, and I felt it was very appropriate to use that tune for a soloist.
The work is made up of three parts. It is a journey that starts from desolation and ends in the construction of an environment that provides containment and support. That is why we will see the soloist isolated from the choir and then, in the middle of the piece, we will hear a 7-note chord (all the notes of the scale representing the union and coexistence in harmony). In the end, when everything stabilizes and together they can build a solid base, the superior voices, contained and supported by the rest of the singers can fly and be free building lively melodies.
The final message of this piece is that a person is insignificant if there is not a whole, an environment that contains them and that we all depend on everyone. That union is what will make us strong and that is the true triumph of humanity. That is why the work ends with a 7-note “amen”, putting each of the voices in hierarchical equality and harmony.
3. O MAGNUM MYSTERIUM
I wrote this piece in 2015 as a commission. It is a piece that illuminates and has the force of a majestic birth. I think the births not only of a life, but of alliances, of stages, a birth that brings a new strength, a new air. That is what this work means to me.
Morna Edmundson, Director of Elektra Women’s Choir wrote:
“This setting of O Magnum Mysterium is both very challenging and rewarding. With huge ranges of tessitura, dynamics, and tempo, it is more like a landscape than a setting of the text. It provided a powerful high point of tension in our concert and one could tell the audience was engaged in its drama. SSAA with divisi and a soprano soloist at the beginning and end. Not recommended for children’s choirs due to the extreme vocal ranges on both ends.”
4. The Secret of Life
Sometimes we face the question of what we should do with our lives; if we are on the right path. This work teaches us that we must find ourselves, we must not judge anyone in their choices, we must live to fulfill our desires and, above all, to love. We must love life, value humanity. We must keep in mind that life is a miracle and do something worthwhile.
The history of the work
During a trip to Spain I meet Brady Alrred in Barcelona and he tells me “you should write a simple work, a love song”. The days passed and I visited my friend Betina in Valencia. She was doing a graduate degree in architecture and was disoriented and overwhelmed. At that moment I told her “you have everything, you are already in your second career, you have all the talent and the decision that you want in your life, just do it!!” and thus was born this work. It is a piece to face the fact that life is a paradox, a mirror of confusion but you must find what you want for your life and love your life. Take a deep breath, look up, and find love in all the things and people around you.
On March 9, the day before my 30th birthday, I was able to conduct this piece doing my composer residency with the Central Bucks High School West.
5. The Last March of Destiny
With the collaboration of a consortium that brought together choirs from around the world and the majestic words of Anthony Silvestri we were able to bring this work to life.
The earth is submerged in darkness. A voice of light that comes from the beginning of time resounds at the edge of the portal where the angels live. It is the resounding of the march of the mountains awakening every living being on the face of the earth and calling the angels. It is the sound that calls the beginning of a new era. The gray cloak that once covered the sky is transformed into radiant light. All forces manage to unite to grant a new opportunity.
Now is the time to live with determination, wisdom and humility. Thanking our ancestors and the environment for giving us a second chance. Celebrating with the commitment to use this new era to improve each other.
It was a commissioned piece at a very special moment in life. I finished the work after leaving intensive care and was able to re-signify the weight and value of life.
The synopsis says:
We are all stars, we are to illuminate and be illuminated by those around us. This piece will always remain in my heart because it has been the result of the commission of very luminous people who have given me warmth while I was recovering from a hard setback of health.
This work is the adventure of mutual support. We are lighting our way but the neighboring stars -those people who are our loved ones on any plane of existence- create and guide that way with more light than we are capable of perceiving.
7. La Magia del Río
This work occupies a very special space. It was commissioned for a festival that I went to in Cyprus. So we enjoyed singing this piece at the summer camp “CHORAL ETHNO CROSSROADS”.
Synopsis of the work
We are brothers of the same species and maybe we do not realize but our differences ideological, behavioral, religious, gender, etc. – In truth are skills to complement us and if we unite them, we will have access to all the knowledge of all the truths existing in humanity.
We must be tolerant and learn from one another because we are in the same boat traveling together and to live a wonderful life, we must listen to each other and unite to awaken our kindness and create synergistic relationships. So we will always remember that we are the same species and we will find peace.
8. O Crux
Ave crux, spes unica is a Latin pious expression meaning, “Hail to the Cross, our only hope”. This expression has a long history in Catholic and Anglican piety.
“O Crux” is beautiful in the sense of calm it evokes. From the lowest of the low sustained notes to the soaring upper voices, the words and the music become one. The tempo and dynamic changes occur so smoothly as to give the listener a feeling of peace. Yet still at the same time, a rising feeling of hope is exciting. This piece is so very well balanced and crafted, it has become a favorite with women’s as well as men’s choirs in countries all around the world.
Beautiful words from my friend Donna Sprowles
I have known Santiago, a young choral composer from Argentina, since 2017. During that time I have watched him consistently write superbly beautiful music for the greatest instrument of all – the human voice. But of all his wonderful music (and this is a very difficult choice as I love all his music), I would have to say “O Crux” is my favorite piece. I have been a church choir director for 40 years and have heard music come and go. I am confident that Santiago’s music will be an inspiration for many, many years to come.
This work is demanding, it requires questioning social roots and dogmas. It is a work that was born to support the LGBTIQ + community. This piece has a soul committed to equal rights and opportunities among people. A non-normative person is one who has evaluated himself and asked many questions to find the true inner self. That is not something so common in this society. This work is full of questions, internal fights and the fighting spirit necessary to overthrow dogmas.
About the premiere at the ACDA conference
Joseph Orth commissioned this piece to be performed at the 2020 ACDA conference in Rochester, NY. The Central Bucks High School-West Women’s Choir premiered it in an emotional concert on March 5 at the conference.
I was lucky to be a composer in residence and to be part of the tour during its premiere, the growth that the work has had and the commitment of the children who sang it was something surprising and one of the best experiences I have had in my life. I hope that if you select this work, I can give you all the support so that you get a beautiful interpretation.
10.Cuando Neruda Soñó
This piece is an adventure of someone who is disconnected from himself and his environment, and undertakes a journey in total solitude. Into an immense space carrying all of his uncertainties. It is that space that teaches him to find himself, to ask questions and reflect.
In the process, he may get lost, but he knows that he will struggle to find the way. And ends up revealing to himself a truth that transcends him. A truth so powerful that it dazzles him. It makes him see life where he once saw loneliness. Finally, feeling at peace and harmony with himself, he finds the help of great guides who sail at his side.
This piece leaves us with the teaching that we will never be completely alone. Only when we see ourselves and accept the multiple layers of our embodiment, can we connect with our environment and those around us. When we accept ourselves as we are, we can provide the best version of ourselves with the people around us and the world.
History of the work
“Cuando Neruda Soñó” was a commissioned piece for the Chilean group called “Tersum Canticum”. It was on Sunday, January 12, 2014, when I started writing this piece. It took on a passion and life of its own, and on January 18, 2014. I had finished writing the 6 minutes of music now called “El Mar”. After the premiere of the piece in Viña del Mar on August 2, 2014, I decided to reformulate it and expand the tessitura of the chords. So that what I was feeling was expressed in a more powerful way through the music. When I finished writing the piece, I renamed it “When Neruda Dreamed”. The work finally premiered on December 10, 2017 in South Africa by the renowned Lumine Amicci choir, and conductor, Michelangelo Cloette.