Program Notes (Sin Nombres)

The title “Sin Nombres” (Nameless) is comprised by the two last words of Octavio Paz’s poem “Custodia” (Monstrance) from his book “Ladera Este” (East Slope).

The poem’s visual arrangement, in the shape of a monstrance, opens up the possibility for many different readings: a cyclic reading, in which he end leads up to the beginning; a slow or fast prosody; a secular mantra, etc. Such a musical interpretation leads to this work as one of the poem’s different understandings.

“Custodia” is a love poem that begins by opposing masculine and feminine nouns, for fusing them together later on in such a way that we can no longer tell each from its opposite: men and women reunite without any division or distinction into one single genderless being. Could it allude to the primeval androgynous beings Aristophanes tells about in Plato’s “The Symposium”? Could it refer to an (in)voluntary loss of a part of the Ego, leaving us in some frail situation? Austere and diaphanous sounds advocate this feeling. The inclination to composing for countertenor voice supports this process:an adult male voice sometimes singing in both mezzo-soprano and baritone. In different interventions by the electro-acoustics, the countertenor’s high register is illuminated, and the underlying prosodic character of the poem is emphasized as the voice multiplies.

The Tibetan prayer stones are identifiable from the beginning, among the selected percussion instruments. Chosen on account of their ritualistic meaning and unique sound, these stones commence a rhythm motif which later unfolds in varying ratios in the piece’s middle section.

Together with the masculine-feminine dichotomy, the poem’s monstrance-shaped lines brought a particular idea of symmetry to my mind, which inspired some of the harmonic colors I used in the piece.