for piano trio


  • Premiere: 13 October 2009 / Seasons Performance Hall, Yakima, WA / Finisterra Piano Trio
  • Instrumentation: 
  • Duration: 22 minutes
  1. Resplendent Quetzal
  2. La Novia de Tola
  3. Tortuga's Lament
  4. Baile Tipico


Since my first family trip to Nicaragua as a child, the country's rich folklore has been a thing of wonder and fascination for me. A new mother now, I dream of sharing with my son the gems of Nicaraguan culture my mother shared with me; I have a mental list of favorite legends and traditions I can't wait for him to know. 

Folklórico, for piano trio, plays on this evolving list of favorites—it is a collection of musical snapshots, each of which takes as its starting-point some image from Nicaraguan folklore:

"Resplendent Quetzal" builds on the mating call of the majestic bird whose train of brilliant red, green and blue twin tail feathers was prized among the Nahuan, the indigenous people of pre-Columbian Nicaragua; a repetitive call alternates with a lyric, musical depiction of wings.

"La Novia de Tola" alternates between manic and static states. A quirky dance, it takes its title from the folktale "The bride from Tola" who, by all accounts, was left without the love of her life on her wedding day (though whether he was shot by her brother, seduced by his ex-lover, or drunk in another town depends on who tells the tale).  La Novia's story gave rise to the uniquely Nicaraguan idiom "left waiting like the bride from Tola" which translates as "left holding the bag".

"Tortuga's Lament" is a plaintive portrait of the sea-turtles near my parents' Nicaraguan home, Rio Mar.  Each year, thousands of sea turtles emerge from the ocean to lay their eggs along the country's shoreline.

Finally, "Baile Tipico" incorporates a prominent Nicaraguan rhythmic pattern into an original festival dance—one that I imagine might be played by marimbas at some fiesta where the women wear embroidered dresses, the men wear guayaberas, the food is rich and abundant, and life is celebrated by all.

Folklórico was commissioned by the Seasons Music Festival for the Finisterra Piano Trio for premiere in fall 2009.  With warmth and respect, it is dedicated to the ensemble.