Instrumentation: SSAATTBB choir
La Vieja was written in response to a painting by Patsy Krebs, Quartet, in four short movements:
In the piece the voice is treated as an instrument capable of many sounds, textures, and qualities. It incorporates extended vocal techniques and aleatoric performance instructions.
Patsy Krebs is an abstract painter who lives in the woods along the Inverness ridge, and part of the year out in the vast open space of southern Colorado. Her work has an elegance that beguiles one into feeling it is effortless, a characteristic of exquisite refinement within seemingly simple forms. One afternoon last year, after spending the day hiking at Pt. Reyes as I regularly do, I stopped in and viewed a local show she had at the Dance Palace. There was a small painting in the collection that impacted me in a way I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before with art. I stood in front of it having the palpable sense of being before an old tree. The piece has four squares: black, brown, fleshy pink, and spring green, that together form a square. I saw the rich wet humus of the earth, a seedling cresting the soil and reaching up, somehow the cheek of an old woman against the trunk, and shimmering green pine needles growing along the branches. The painting had motion in it, and that beautiful paradox of Advent…where the very old and the expectant coming live simultaneously. La Vieja, "the old woman," is my musical response to the painting.