Mari Esabel Valverde
/ Fort Worth, TX
Member since April 2018
Award-winning composer and singer Mari Esabel Valverde has been commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Texas Music Educators Association, Seattle Men’s and Women’s Choruses, and Boston Choral Ensemble among others and has appeared with Dallas Chamber Choir, Vox Humana, and EXIGENCE (Detroit). She was a featured composer at the 2016 Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses Festival, where her “Our Phoenix” was premièred by six collective ensembles from the United States and Canada. Her works are published by earthsongs and Walton Music and otherwise self-published.
Fluent in Spanish and French, she actively studies Brazilian Portuguese and Swedish. She has translated numerous vocal works and documents including a phonetic guide of Ravel’s opera L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. Based in North Texas, she has taught voice at the high school level for five years. Her former students, many of whom have participated in All-State Choirs and Solo Competition, are represented in over a dozen collegiate programs.
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 ACDA, the American Composers Forum, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
Political, sensual, and neoromantic. 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, Latina composer, the prospect of setting poetry by women, LGBTQ folk, 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
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.
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.
SSA chorus and piano or harp
« Nous tous aussi, quand passe la jeunesse, nous lui tendons notre coupe à l’envi. »
A beautiful and modest goddess has the trusted role as cup-bearer at the feast of the Greek gods... She is the goddess of youth who serves the drink which rejuvenates the gods and renews their immortality. Chausson’s portrayal of such an untouchable divinity is characterized by a simple, flowing melody and modal harmony which recalls an ancient era... In a classic style of implicit sensuality, all the voices come together as a nostalgic expression of lust for youth and vitality.
Available through Walton Music: WLG151, HL00144468.
Look Down, Fair Moon
SA 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 and 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.