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Three Songs for Soprano and Wind Ensemble

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Osvaldo Golijov

Osvaldo Golijov (trans. Mark Sosnowchik)

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General Info

Year: 2002 / 2015
Duration: c. 23:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Unpublished
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


1. Lullaby
2. Lúa descolorida - 6:00
3. How Slow the Wind


Full Score
Solo Soprano
Piccolo (doubles Flute III)
Flute I
Flute II (doubles Alto Flute)
English Horn
Bassoon I-II (II doubles Contrabassoon)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II (I doubles Clarinet in A
B-flat Bass Clarinet I
B-flat Bass Clarinet II (doubles Basset Horn)
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Horn in F I-II
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Chimes
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba (2)
  • Tam-Tam
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Three Songs for Soprano and Wind Ensemble began life as Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra (2002). The songs are described here:

Night of the Flying Horses starts with an Yiddish lullaby that I composed for Sally Potter's film The Man Who Cried, set to function well in counterpoint to another important music theme in the soundtrack: Bizet's Aria Je Crois Entendre Encore, from The Pearl Fishers. In her film Sally explores the fate of Jews and Gypsies in the tragic mid-years of the 20th century, through a love story between a Jewish young woman and a Gypsy young man. The lullaby metamorphoses into a dense and dark doina (a slow, gypsy, rubato genre) featuring the lowest string of the violas. The piece ends in a fast gallop boasting a theme that I stole from my friends of the wild gypsy band Taraf de Haïdouks. The theme is presented here in a canonical chase between two orchestral groups.

A dead man in Spain is more dead there than anywhere else," said García Lorca, explaining that Spanish poets define rather than allude. Lúa Descolorida (Colorless Moon) a poem by Lorca's beloved Rosalía de Castro written in Gallego (the language of the Galicia region in Spain), defines despair in a way that is simultaneously tender and tragic. The musical setting is a constellation of clearly defined symbols that affirm contradictory things at the same time, becoming in the end a suspended question mark. The song is at once a slow motion ride on a cosmic horse, an homage to Couperin's melismas in his Lessons of Tenebrae, and velvet bells coming from three different churches. But the strongest inspiration for Lúa Descolorida was Dawn Upshaw's rainbow of a voice, and I wanted to give her music so quietly radiant that it would bring an echo of the single tear that Schubert brings without warning in his voicing of a C major chord. The original version of this song was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition and premiered by Dawn Upshaw and Gilbert Kalish in April 1999.

- Program Note by composer

How Slow the Wind, a setting of two short Emily Dickinson poems, was Golijov's response to the death in an accident of his friend Mariel Stubrin. He writes, "I had in mind one of those seconds in life that is frozen in the memory, forever -- a sudden death, a single instant in which life turns upside down, different from the experience of death after a long agony." Originally for voice and string quartet, the piece was commissioned by Cecilia Wasserman, in memory of her late husband Herb, for Close Encounters with Music and was first performed in their Seiji Ozawa Hall concert of May 5, 2001, by Dawn Upshaw, soprano; Toby Appel and Justine Chen, violins; Kenji Bunch, viola, and Yehuda Hanani, cello.

- Program Note by publisher

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Symphonic Winds (Dennis Llinás, conductor; Carol M. Gomez, soprano) – 20 November 2018
  • United States Coast Guard Band (New London, Conn.) (Richard Wyman, conductor; Megan Weikleenget, soprano) – 19 March 2017
  • University of Miami (Fla.) Frost Wind Ensemble (Robert Carnochan, conductor; Melissa Hughes, soprano) – 18 April 2016
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Ensemble (Marc Sosnowchik, conductor; Lindsey Pino, soprano) - 31 March 2015 - *Premiere performance of wind transcription*

Works for Winds by this Composer