Una Luz Santa (guitar)
guitar duo for one 10-string and one 6-string, based on a Sephardic theme.
Written: 2002, dedicated to Sylvain Bergeron
Duration: 9 minutes; 20 pages
Instrumentation: classical guitar duo: originally for 10-course and 7-10 course lutes (Una Luz Santa lute version); arranged for for one 10-string and one 6-string guitar
Difficulty level: very difficult, high notes and chords, complex rhythms
World premiere: by Sylvain Bergeron and Frank Wallace in Montreal, 2003
Preview: a sample PDF of Una luz santa
The Sephardic Jews lived in Spain for more than a millennium until they were expelled with all non-Christians after the Catholic Kings, Ferdinand and Isabella, conquered the last Moorish king of Granada, Boabdil. They were a vital part of the community and their departure a tragic loss for Spain. A song collected in the twentieth century and finally written down after generations of singers had passed it along to their descendants via word of mouth inspired Una Luz Santa. “Cuando el Rey Nimrod / Al campo salía / Mirava en el cielo/ Y en la estrellería / Vi una luz santa…” (When King Nimrod went to the country, he looked into the sky, into the heavens, [he] saw a sacred light…)
When I began the piece, I had no idea that this tune was my theme. It stubbornly emerged, insisting on its presence throughout the composition. And so the relatively short tune is heard in short fragments throughout with extensive interludes of new material. My goal was to create a more dense wash of sound than is normally heard in period lute duets. I wanted to use the full range of both instruments and have them interlock sonically rather than leading or accompanying one at a time. One section borrows two elements of Middle Eastern music, complex meter [18/16] with rapidly alternating groups of twos and threes, and a strumming effect imitating the oud being played with a plectra.