South American music is the inspiration for “Matapolvos,” a suite for soprano, English horn, viola and cello written in 2005 by Santa Fe composer Ron Strauss.
“Matapolvos,” which was premiered by Serenata of Santa Fe during the year in which it was written, is presented again by Serenata of Santa Fe in its November 12 concert at First Presbyterian Church. “The Americans” also features works by Samuel Barber (1910-1981) and Philip Glass (b.1937).
“I wanted to honor South American music without copying it,” explains Strauss, who composes vocal and piano music and works for orchestra and chamber ensemble.
“Matapolvo is the Spanish work for a slight shower that barely settles the dust,” Strauss says in his 2005 program notes. “The pieces in this suite are small efforts at bringing to music a few atoms of the great fire cloud of Latin American history so beautifully and meticulously rendered in Eduardo Galeano’s trilogy ‘Memory of Fire’ from which the text is taken.”
Strauss became aware of “Memory of Fire” in 1990 when a friend recommended the three-volume work to him as a rich piece of literature and one that also has a courageous approach to history.
“The trilogy is a mosaic of human enterprise, aspiration and folly, a living, breathing mythology, speaking of the specific in language that conjures the universal,” Strauss explains in his program notes. “Galeano’s prose is intelligent, musical and measured. It serves up story after story of passion and violence, exploitation and innocence, mad comedy and horrific tragedy, in a deceptively understated manner.”
Originally, Strauss had marked more than 100 sections for musical settings. When Serenata of Santa Fe asked for a work of certain length in 2005, Strauss chose a handful of texts to use in the six-movement work.
“The Americans,” the third concert in Serenata of Santa Fe’s 2017-2018 season, is performed by violinists David Felberg and Ruxandra Marquardt, violist Shanti Randall, cellist Dana Winograd, oboist/English horn player Pamela Epple and soprano Gail Springer.