Daragang Magayon Cantata
for mezzo-soprano, piano, optional dancer/chanter (2001); duration: 17′ 00″; publisher: Wirripang
score available from
The rich overtone resonances from low, rubber-stopped notes on the piano create sensuous single sound moments in the music. These Filipino gong music inspired resonances combine with slow European chorale-like gestures throughout to provide breath moments within an increasingly combative musical texture. The melodic-line derived from Bontok war-chant, usually the prerogative of men, finds full cry in erotic “sea ripples”, which in turn generates long-lyric lines expressive of the poem’s princess meditation on war. Even the chorale-like breath segments work in shortening gasps leading to transfigured Kulintang (Filipino percussion) segments whose dance-like momentum undergird the “metal timbre” climax of work. The text is drawn from Merlinda Bobis’ epic poem Cantata of the Warrior Woman Daragang Magayon – a revisionist re-telling of the Philippines ancient myth associated with the active volcano Mount Mayon. It charts the play of ambivalence and conviction of a beautiful maiden on the eve of battle and is interpreted by the composer as a metaphor of volcanic, erotically-fuelled anger against social injustice, not just in war but in cultural colonisation.
“Daragang Magayon Cantata is a fine example of musical syncretism that is deeply felt and meaningful. Mezzo-soprano, Lotte Latukefu, embodies the warrior woman expressing anger through the ambiguity of the erotic and the martial, the earthly and the metaphysical, rendering the composer’s word-painting with sustained energy.”
Professor Michael Atherton, preface CD Double Resonances Wirr017
available on writings page (see Leonardo Music Journal and Intercultural Music)