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A mi hija: cartes desde la cárcel
poetry and prose by Alicia Partnoy





Suna Avci, soprano
Bob Hasty, conductor
Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra

It was ten years ago, during my first year of composing, that I encountered “A mi hija” in a collection of poetry by prisoners of conscience called Voices of Conscience. Alicia Partnoy’s poem immediately found a place in my heart and in my ear. It has never left, and now I understand better what drew me to this poem. The beauty and simplicity of the language were immediately appealing from a musical standpoint, as were the poem’s emotional range and intensity. But more to the point, this poem came out of Partnoy’s actual experience as an activist, an artist, and a mother. From the midst of repression and cruelty, here is a voice that brims over with love.

Much of my music has been born out of a sense of inner necessity. Something has to be expressed, and it cannot be done in any other way. By now I have said what I can in words about my reaction to this poem. The music must do the rest.

The text for the third section of the piece is drawn from Partnoy's book, “The Little School: Tales of Disappearance and Survival in Argentina.” Within the context of the musical work, it felt important to have a transition between the second and third sections of the poem. This excerpt was exactly what was needed. Many thanks to the poet for providing the original Spanish for this text, which until now has only been publicly available in English.


/ Jennie Gottschalk /

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