Publisher: Novello & Co
Tal vez tenemos tiempo (2007),
commissioned by Conspirare
Pablo Neruda (1907-1973)
Novello & Co Ltd
Chorus a cappella / Chorus plus 1 instrument
Tal vez tenmos tiempo ('Maybe we have time') was commissioned by the American choir Conspirare for its recording Threshold of Night. It sets a poem by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, which was originally suggested to me by the choir's director Craig Hella Johnson in an excellent English translation by Alastair Reid. As Reid eloquently puts it, however, "English and Spanish move very differently, like streams that run in quite separate courses". With this in mind I decided to look at Neruda’s original language and found a music there that no English translation could possibly capture. As Reid himself acknowledges, he can only offer his translation “as an homage to the original”.
I decided, therefore, to allow Neruda’s language the utmost ‘breathing’ space. As a result, Tal vez tenemos tiempo stands apart from many of my earlier works in its homophony. There is something so universally spiritual in the linguistic rhythm of the poem that I wanted to amplify this facet in the clearest way. There are almost no overlapping, or densely ‘orchestrated’ sections in this work.
The choir moves as one for much of the piece, echoing Neruda’s call for unity in carving out the time, as an individual or wider society, to ‘simply be’.
Tarik O'Regan 2008
Craig Hella Johnson