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Tengo : a Spanish lesson, for treble choir and piano

by Luke Byrne (2010)



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Tengo : a Spanish lesson, for treble choir and piano / music and lyrics by Luke Byrne.

Library shelf no. 785.7542/BYR 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

When I was asked to compose a new work in a tango style for a boys choir from regional NSW and an "orquesta typica", I knew I would need a first-rate text… Instead, I bought an inexpensive Latin American Spanish phrasebook on the way to the camp where I had to write this piece, and like many tourists have surely done abroad, picked key words and phrases from this book in an attempt to communicate. Whenever I was taught a new language, among the first phrases learned were various "I have" statements - I have a brother, I have green eyes, and so on, and the Spanish for "I have" is tengo. The closeness of this word to "tango" made it a perfect starting point, and thus was born this deeply serious piece. For the première, I borrowed an idea from Bob Dylan in Subterranean Homesick Blues, and, standing to the side of the performers, I held up placards displaying the English subtitles for the text of Tengo. This nearly backfired because the boys choir started craning their necks to see what I was doing rather than watch the conductor. Nevertheless, I encourage other performances of Tengo to include the subtitles in a very po-faced way - I believe this enhances the experience more than simply printing the translation in a program.

Work Details

Year: 2010

Instrumentation: Treble Choir (unison) or solo voice, piano.

Duration: 3 min.

Difficulty: Medium — Mildly difficult piano accompaniment

Commission note: Commissioned by Moorambilla Voices.. Commissioned for the Moorambilla Boys Choir and Tango Oz, for performance at the 2010 Moorambilla Festival.

First performance: by Moorambilla Boys Choir, Tango Oz, Michelle Leonard — 18 Sep 10. Moorambilla Festival Lunchtime Concert, Plaza Theatre, Coonamble NSW

The composer notes the following influences on the work:
This work was strongly influenced by my enduring love of Argentinian tango music, especially Astor Piazzolla (the most well-known tango composer outside of Argentina), but also more traditional "tangueros" such as Osvaldo Pugliese.

Performances of this work

18 Sep 10: Moorambilla Festival Lunchtime Concert, Plaza Theatre, Coonamble NSW. Featuring Moorambilla Boys Choir, Tango Oz, Michelle Leonard.

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