PABLO ORTIZ is a Professor of Composition at the University of California, Davis. His prizes and additional commissions include a Fromm in 1992, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993, and the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1996. In 1997 and 1998, Ortiz was commissioned two chamber operas, Parodia and Una voz en el viento, by the Centro Experimental Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. In 1999 he was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation to write a piece, Raya en el mar, for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.
He received a grant in 2000 from Fideicomiso para la cultura Mexico-US to write children’s songs. In 2004 the Gerbode Foundation commissioned Oscuro, for Chanticleer and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. In 2008 he received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Recent premieres include Suomalainen tango, for orchestra, by the Orquestra Nacional de Catalunya, Trois tangos en marge by the Kovacik, Dann, Karttunen trio at the Museo Nacional Reina Sofia in Madrid, and Notker, for choir and organ, by Paul Hillier and the Theatre of Voices in Copenhagen. He worked with artist Eduardo Stupia on a multimedia oratorio for female voices, harp and percussion which premiered at the Centro Experimental Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, in August 2012.
Track of the Month for March 2017 — You are listening to:
"Leaving Limerick in the Rain"
by Pablo Ortiz
A choral setting of the TMF LiberArte poem by U.S. Presidential Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco, chosen this month for its timely themes of memory, home, and returning.
"Leaving Limerick in the Rain" is performed here by Coro Allegro in this recording made at its world premiere at Boston's Symphony Hall. The score is a setting of two verses from the poem:
Next to me a bearded man in a cap sleeps, his brow,
thick hands tell a story resting on the broken spine
of a book facedown on his lap, parted to words
he couldn’t finish—too droll or terrifying for him,
perhaps. I wonder if his eyes are green as ferns
or brown as dirt, if they are dreaming of tigers or
moonlight echoes or the timbre of his father’s voice.
I wonder if he’s leaving home or returning. Maybe
he’s a stranger like me among strangers between
points on the earth to which these tracks are nailed.
Where I am, where I’m going, doesn’t matter.
What matters is the poem in the window, a blurred
watercolor where tree is chimney, chimney is cloud
cloud is brick, brick is puddle, puddle is rain, and rain
is me, refracted in each luscious bead. How impossible.
How terrifyingly beautiful and free to be everything
inside everything, never having to say I’m from here
or there, never remembering my childhood home
where I first played house, or the palm tree shadows
down the street where I learned to ride bike, or
my backyard with my father chasing fireflies caught
like stars in a glass jar, or the room where I heard
my voice first say, Richard, my name separating me
from the world, the world suddenly fallen into
geography, histories, weather, language, wars.
Listen here to more music in our Track of the Month Series.