Here are notes from a recent performance at Gallery Isohedron in Tribeca:
Alabanza, In Praise of Local 100, a setting of Martin Espada's beautiful homage for the restaurant workers killed in the World Trade Center attacks was written for New Haven's Blue Elm Trio accompanying the baritone Richard Lalli. It was premiered at Yale's Sprague Auditorium in February of 2004 at a time when a protracted strike by the unions representing the Yale workers made clear the administration's and much of the faculty's contempt for those who washed dishes, cleaned the offices and swept the hallways. At around the same time, Yalies in the White House, State Department and Pentagon were using the deaths of members in the same union as justification for an assault on other brown skinned people a half world away pressing into service troops for which it had no less contempt.
The ironies of the Espada's Alabanza presented in that situation were so raw and obvious that any comment the music projected onto the text seemed not only superfluous, but actively subversive of its proper role. What was called for was a musical equivalent of what George Orwell characterized as the best literary prose which functions, in his estimation, as a windowpane-for the music to disappear.
The piece was well received at Yale though it probably shouldn't have been.
Recording is here.
Score and parts are here: