Poetry by Daniel Basilio | c. 20 mins
Commissioned by the SOLI ENSEMBLE
I. Flor de Lã
III. Maré de Água Viva
“Chamber Ensemble contributed significantly to the Las Américas Festival with its Monday night concert, but its larger gift was bringing talented Brazilian-American singer/composer Clarice Assad to San Antonio. Assad sang a cycle of four of her songs, titled “Elementos,” because they represented the earth, fire, water and air. She was mesmerizing, singing in a lovely bossa nova in one song and turning her mezzo voice into a percussive effect the next, all bringing Brazil to life…But it was Assad who won the audience…”
SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS NEWS
BRAZILIAN SINGER WOWS AUDIENCES – San Antonio Express News (source)
“Songs of Brazilian composer Clarice Assad began the evening. Alexandra Urquiola, with NYFOS artistic director Steven Blier at the piano, brought earthiness and sensuality to these luscious art songs, first Prece (Prayer), with text by Assad, and then a hefty song cycle to text by Daniel Basilio called Elementos (Elements). Originally composed for a chamber ensemble, the piano part is intricate and romantic, and Blier played it with rhythmic suppleness and expressive shadings. Urquiola’s warm, ingratiating mezzo-soprano brought the vivid texts to life, with clear diction and soaring phrasing. Assad is a composer to keep an eye out for, with a relatable, jazz-inflected palette, but an original voice, and a knack for keeping the listener’s attention while tugging on heartstrings. “
ELEMENTOS is a song-cycle inspired by the four elements: earth, fire, water and air, and was the first collaboration between myself and the poet/lyricist Daniel Basilio. Originally written for piano and operatic voice, the piece was never properly premiered, so it was put to rest in a drawer and forgotten for the longest time. It never occurred to me to ever play and sing this piece myself, because I had it stuck in my mind that this piece should never be done by someone with my vocal type. In the past few years, however, the lines between genres and styles have become much thinner for me, and as I looked for a piece to arrange for SOLI and myself, ELEMENTOS came to mind.
I am really excited about working with SOLI on this piece. Bringing it to a chamber music setting and pairing it with a more popular vocal type such as mine, I hope, will culminate on something unique, different than the regular song cycles audiences expect to hear when going to a concert house, or a jazz festival.
The piece draws from many influences. The first movement Flor De Lã is set to a gorgeous poem by Basilio, exploring the earth element. Fogaréu, inspired by the fire element is a fiery and rhythmic movement while the ballad Maré de Água Viva aims to portray the comings and goings of a tide of living water. The element Air closes the song cycle with a lively dance in 6/8, called Esconderijo.