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Composed in 1987 by John Oliver

I visited Guatemala for six weeks in the summer of 1978. Soon after I arrived the earth shook, painting my face with fear. When Mexico City was devastated in 1985, I remembered the horror, anxiety and awe that I felt when the earth shifted, and I imagined the human, spiritual and material devastation such massive catastrophe leaves in its wake. These were the memories reawakened by Sergio Barroso's request to create a piece for the 1988 Electroacoustic Music Festival in Mexico City.

I began writing in this sensibility of fear, premonition, and arrested time. The music reveals itself as a book of short poems culminating in a violent and virtuosistic section, temporally based on the Maya calendar, in which a sense of time continuity contains violent upheaval. Order and chaos here coexist. The narrative text lines, read by Antonio Urrello, were selected from poems by Pablo Neruda and from Jose E. Pacheco's El Reposo del Fuego [The Resting Place of Fire].

The piece is dedicated to Sergio Barroso and was composed in Vancouver at his IREME studio and at the Simon Fraser University Sonic Studio. Scored originally for DX7(E!), TX7 and tape, the solo part in this recording is the 1988 version for DX7II(E!), TX802 and tape, realized by Sergio Barroso. El Reposo del Fuego was awarded the First Prize in the electroacoustic category and the Grand Prize of the Canada Council for the best overall composition at the 8th CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers in 1988. It was premiered in January 1988 by Sergio Barroso at the Rufino Tamayo Museum in Mexico City.


Español abajo

Jose-Emilio Pacheco’s epic poem El Reposo del Fuego inspired the entire composition.

The score takes words from the first of Pacheco’s three “movements.” Below are the words heard.

There is no space wider than grief.
There is no universe like that which bleeds.
-"Point" by Pablo Neruda

1 1
Nothing alters the disaster: the wealth of hot blood transfuses the air with its grief.

Today I break off the ache where bloodthirsty reality stretched on and on intact.

I don't give thanks. I redouble, I shock
the foundations of the quake again with this greediness
to dig back over all the old ravage and decay.

I stare without comprehending, I search for sense in these brutal acts,
and suddenly I hear a beating in the depth of space, eternity dying,
and I reflect,
I dwell on my own defiance happy the dying rain stings the air
and snuffs this minute out.

.. .Time is dust

The Resting Place of Fire Translation by George McWhirter Used with permission.


El poema epico de Jose-Emilio Pacheco El Reposo del Fuego inspire toda la composition.

La partitura toma frases del primero de los tres "movimientos" de Pacheco. Abajo las palabras escuchadas.

No hay espacio mas ancho que el dolor.
No hay universo como aquel que sangra.
-"Punto" de Pablo Neruda

1 1
Nada altera el desastre: llena el mundo la caudal pesadumbre de la sangre.

Hoy rompo este dolor en que se yergue la realidad carnivora e intacta.

No doy gracias: redoblo, conmociono la estructura del sismo, la cortante voracidad que inverte el deterioro.

Miro sin comprender, busco el sentido de estos hechos brutales,
y de pronto,
oigo latir el fondo del espacio, la eternidad muriendose,
y contemplo,
reparo en la insolencia feliz con que la lluvia moribunda ahoga este minuto y encarniza sus procaces colmillos contra el aire.

.. .El tiempo es polvo.

El Reposo del Fuego por Jose-Emilio Pacheco Usado con permiso


from SERGIO BARROSO performs OLIVER DENIS BARROSO, released January 1, 1989
Composed in 1987 by John Oliver


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John Oliver Vancouver, British Columbia

composer, guitarist and electronic musician My music also appears on several other labels and compilations. See my web site for details.

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