são rosas

(2020) 13’15”
contralto, english horn, percussion (2), harp and string orchestra

Program Notes

The idea to compose a work for the 750 anniversary of the birth of Isabel de Aragão, the "Holy Queen”, began as an informal invitation, almost a challenge. In fact, for some time I had been looking to compose a work in honor of the woman who raised me, Isabel Correia Galvão, and with whom I lived with until her death. I was 18 at that time. Isabel Galvão was born and grew up in Coimbra until her marriage to Eugénio de Andrade, at which time they moved to Lousã, where I grew up and where I currently live. She was baptised Isabel as a show of devotion from her parents to the "Holy Queen”, devotion that she herself maintained throughout her life. At home, I remember the image of the “Holy Queen” always present, as well as the frequent visits to Coimbra on related celebrations. It was also Isabel Galvão who introduced me to the “miracle of the roses”, in which the queen transformed bread, which she was carrying to distribute to the poor, into roses, after being questioned by her husband, the King D. Dinis, as to what she was carrying. This became the theme I chose to treat in this work. During the 13 minutes of the duration of the work, the contralto voice sings the phrase, “São rosas, senhor, são rosas” (They are roses, my lord, they are roses), in various configurations and speeds. Even though the work was conceived to work in a regular concert setting, I can imagine and encourage it being presented with some staging, or accompanied by a video representing a kind of rose petal shower, or even an actual rose petal shower upon the audience at a certain point in the work.


São rosas, senhor, são rosas

Score Excerpts