Mari Esabel Valverde
/ Fort Worth, TX
Member since April 2018
Award-winning composer Mari Esabel Valverde has been commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association, Boston Choral Ensemble, the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Portland’s Resonance Ensemble, Seattle Men’s and Women’s Choruses, and the Texas Music Educators Association. She has also built a reputation as a singer, educator, adjudicator, and translator. Following six years as a high school classical voice instructor, she spent two years specializing in transgender voice training. Proficient in Spanish, French, and Brazilian Portuguese, she has translated numerous vocal works and documents including a phonetic guide of Ravel’s opera L’Enfant et les Sortilèges.
A native of Texas, she holds degrees from St. Olaf College, the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France, and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, the American Choral Directors Association, and Chorus America.
l aspire to create music that is humanist in message and sensual in expression. I am a self-proclaimed "Frenchy." Tonal with at least some counterpoint, and for me, dissonance is very purposeful and is not to be overindulged. The success of any collaboration will depend on the text selected. As a transgender Mexican American composer, the prospect of setting poetry by gender and sexual minorities, religious minorities, and/or persons of color is very exciting to me. I am privileged to have a working relationship with the trans, two-spirit, disabled, queer, mixed race poet Amir Rabiyah (AmirRabiyah.com).
When composing for the voice, I put great care into setting a text. Before drawing a single notehead, I memorize the text. I sing it and sketch the composition with attention to articulation and breath. My goal is to honor the text by ensuring clarity and space for the words and to extend its meaning in melody and harmony. I especially love composing vocal works with acoustic instrumentation. I have written songs with piano, strings, harp, guitar, trumpet, bass clarinet, saxophone, and even taiko! I cannot wait to add more instruments to the list.
Listen to works by Mari Esabel Valverde
Look Down, Fair Moon
SSA chorus (div.) and piano
“On the dead, on their backs, with arms toss’d wide, pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon.”
"Look Down, Fair Moon" is a nocturne inspired by poetry contemporary with the American Civil War. In a prayerful tone in imperative tense, Whitman pleads for calm and healing for those who are wounded or fallen. The mysterious, beaming moon is our source of spiritual nourishment. Every time we are made aware of the unspeakable carnage of war or terrorism, foreign or domestic, we are compelled to ponder our humanity and our mortality. In the spirit of such elegy, I want to inspire further introspection and call for the reconciliation and mending of our people.
Oracle of Spring
SATB chorus a cappella
“May they hope? sing to them now, thy cuckoo, thy cuckoo, and again cuckoo, cuckoo.”
—Alfred Baskerville after Goethe
The "Oracle" is a lively bird—very active in announcing the arrival of spring through its song. Madrigal-like in style, contemporary in feeling, this piece is a fine addition to the seasonal literature befitting spring. Up to date, "Oracle of Spring" is the second of three songs I have composed for the International Orange Chorale of San Francisco, now published in their choral series with Santa Barbara Music Publishing: SBMP 1081.
SATB chorus and guitar or cello
“I wish maps would be without borders & that we belonged to no one & to everyone at once.”
"Border Lines" was composed for Adams State University's choral concert series "An Immigrant's Tale: Hopes, Dreams, and Fears in an Uncertain Time." In collaboration with Harlem-based Afro-Latina poet Yesenia Montilla, this work is born out of empathy for immigrants to the United States who have been separated from their families in the spirit of xenophobia. Her words call out the arbitrary nature of geopolitical borders and implore all of us to unify at our roots in our common humanity. The music is inspired in meter and melody by Central American folk song; and the guitar portrays the undulations of "el río" as the narrative unfolds, expressing a clear yearning for belonging.
The Cloths of Heaven
SATB chorus and piano or harp and string ensemble (available for SSA chorus)
“But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet.”
—William Butler Yeats
"The Cloths of Heaven" was composed during my first summer at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France as a composition assignment. A year later, it was premièred by the St. Olaf Choir and became my first published work, now available through earthsongs: S341 and S414 . The choral-orchestral version of this work was premièred at the Oregon Bach Festival in 2011 by the Strangeland Family Youth Choral Academy under the direction of Anton Armstrong.