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Canciónes de desamor

for high voice and piano (or chamber ensemble) (2016/2018)


Duration: 12 minutes

Text: Spanish

Poetry by Cecilia M. Castillo. Used by kind permission of the author.


1. Por un instante
2. Que queden sin rocío las flores bellas
3. Prefiero mil veces

Program Note:

Canciónes de desamor came about when a tenor friend asked me to consider setting three poems written by his mother. They are poems of heartbreak that were written decades ago, while she lived in her native Mexico. I was immediately taken by the poems. They spoke directly to a recent heartbreak of my own—one I thought I was over. Cecilia’s lines, like the opening of the second poem “Let the beautiful flowers remain without dew,/I’ve been left without your smile anyway” or the lines “Sometimes I remember with great pain/That you are not mine” from the third poem, felt like they were straight from my own life. I composed my setting over the winter holidays of 2015-2016, holidays that for me bring up old feelings and regrets in addition to renewed feelings of loss and loneliness. I found comfort though in working with Cecilia’s own expressions of loss. It sounds a little cliché, but these poems reminded me that loneliness and loss are not something I alone suffered, even if it feels that way. These feelings are shared by all people. As true as the phrase “Love is Love” so also is “Loss is Loss.”

Premiere (Version for Voice and Piano):

Daniel Castillo, tenor; Hsin-Hsuan Lin, piano on May 3rd, 2016, in Jessen Auditorium at the University of Texas at Austin. The version for chamber ensemble was commissioned by Juventas New

Jessen Auditorium at the University of Texas at Austin

May 3, 2016

Premiere (Version for Voice and Chamber Orchestra):

Kelley Hollis, soprano with Juventas New Music Ensemble; Andy Pease, conductor

First Church, Boston, MA

June 1, 2019


English Translations:

1. For a moment


For a moment you search for my mouth,

With a longing that surprises me,

In a moment of mad anguish,

In a movement you do not rebuke.


And I remain as always

And the kiss is half kept,

Until, after you're gone,

My handkerchief removes it.


Sad fate of your kiss

That from my lips disappears,

And although it is quite true

That I do not love you,

I feel my soul becomes saddened.

2. Let the beautiful flower remain without due


Let the beautiful flowers remain without dew,

I've been left without your smile anyway,

Do not let the stars come to the night,

Do not let soft breeze move on the sea.


A fight remains in the heart,

The soul is no longer obligated,

no longer submitted,

Turn off the most beautiful of lights,

Taking the sound of your laughter with you.

You turn away from my life leaving a dent,

In a body that without you is scandalized,

In the fervent eyes of your footprint.

You take the flame of my love,

What remains of your kisses is ash,

And my lips are sealed by weeping.

(She fell asleep on the shore,

You, at the tip of a branch.)

3. I prefer a thousand times

I prefer a thousand times

To see you from afar

Knowing your eyes look at me no longer.


I prefer not to talk to you

And continue to suffer

Knowing you are free from thinking of me,

My feelings affect you no more.


For disenchantment

Has tarnished the desire

For tenderly kissing you.


The days pass,

Sleepless hours,

Sometimes I remember with great pain

That you're not mine,

That I do not belong to you,

But there once was love between us...


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