Cantata Dreams

Cantata Sueños (Dreams) by Arturo Márquez

Each one of the four movements of this cantata is based on referring to the dreams of visionary leaders, who fought for human right, peace and social justice under different circumstances. The first movement (Es un sueño todavia, It is still a dream) is based on a “decima” by the Mexican poet/composer Guillermo Velázquez, considered the greatest living troubadour of a region in Mexico. A “decima” is a poem that has 10 verses. The music is based on the huapango, a musical genre and folk dance created by the indigenous people living in the Northeastern part of the country (the huastecos).

The second movement (Sin Lamento, No regrets) is based on the text of a letter from 1852 attributed to Chief Seattle and addressed to the President of the United States Franklin Pierce. The letter is very moving, but its provenance is unverified. Chief Seattle was a Native American leader in the second half of the 19th century, who in his letter stressed the need of being responsible to the environment and to have respect for the land rights of Native American people.

Aforismos (Aphorisms) is the title of the third movement, based on short quotes by Mahatma Gandhi, who was one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century, distinguished by his philosophy of employing non-violent civil disobedience. Through it, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Gandhi’s approach directly influenced Martin Luther King, Jr., who argued that the Gandhian philosophy was ‘‘the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.’’ King ultimately believed that the Gandhian approach of nonviolent resistance would ‘‘bring about a solution to the race problem in America.’ and in particular the ones by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The last movement (Tengo un sueño, I have a dream) is based on the famous public speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he calls for an end to racism in the United States and called for civil and economic rights. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. Musically speaking, Arturo Márquez wrote the piece using a musical genre called “milonga.” The milonga started in Argentina, and the world is usually related with the place where people dance tango. However, it also represents a musical genre or style of dance derived from the tango, and this is what the composer represents in this piece.