Program Notes



"En la mar hay una torre" (The Tower by the Sea) is inspired by a Sephardic Jewish song from medieval Spain. The lyrics speak of a maiden calling to sailors from a tower by the sea. When I read the lyrics, I try to imagine the context of the story. Who is this mysterious woman: friend, lover, a stranger...perhaps a siren? In some anthologies, an alternate title is La Serena, which in archaic Spanish perhaps meant "The Siren" or "The Serene One," or perhaps both. Reconstructing the story, I think of a sailor gazing from the bridge of his ship at a castle in twilight. I picture the ship gently rocking back and forth, enveloped by the warm breeze of a Mediterranean evening; the sailor singing of loneliness accompanied by the sound of distant waves crashing against cliffs. The appearance of the woman at the window of the castle's tower turns his lament into a serenade reminiscent of the lull of the sea and the steps of a sensual dance. A declaration of love ensues and.....what happens next? Does the siren extend her hand to the sailor? Do the lovers unite (or perhaps reunite)? Does he fall under her spell, locked in that tower for eternity or does he sail away, never to return?

En la mar ay una torre,                 In the sea there is a tower,
en la torre una ventana,                In the tower there is a window,
en la ventana una hija                   In the window there is maiden
qu'a los marineros llama.             That calls out to sailors.

 Si la mar era de leche                   If the sea were made of milk
yo m'haria un pexcador                I would become a fisherman
pexcaria las mis Dolores             I’d fish for my worries
con palavricas d'amor.                 With words of love

 Dame tu mano palomba               Give me your hand, dove,
para suvir a tu nido                       So that I climb to your nest;
maldicha que durmes sola           You’re unlucky to sleep alone:
vengo a durmir contigo.               I’ll come to sleep with you.

 Notes by the composer