L’Espill Encantat is a new cantata, premiered and produced by the Cervera Easter Festival, for children’s choir, soloists, narrator and instrumental ensemble. It is based on the work Quadern de Música by Jaume Ferran, a writer from Cervera, composed by Jordi Castellà (music) and Montse Pont (lyrics and script), both also from Cervera. Local and universal, as the language of music itself.
The main characters in the story are Anna and The Magician (who symbolizes the figure of Jaume Ferran), who will be immersed in a plot of fantastic adventures in order to help recover the origins of a town that, immersed in new technologies, is about to definitively forget its traditions and stories, a city where popular wisdom has been lost.
Music will play a major role: the only way to save this people will be to recover a magical song that will have to be performed before it gets dark. The research of the instruments and scores will take place in the city of Cervera, transformed into a magical city.
El record més pur és sempre el de la música, aire que s'estremeix i que perdura.
The history of l'Espill Encantat
The commission: first stages.
L'Espill Encantat is commissioned by Estefania Balcells, who, as director of the Cervera Professional Conservatory of Music, asks me for a musical composition that involves as many students and teachers as possible. A challenge for our center, both musically and organizationally. We will need a plot about Cervera, so we contact Montse Pont, who will be in charge of creating a script based on a work by Jaume Ferran: “Cuaderno de Música”. The process of writing the script will last for half a year. In the meantime, Xavier Hidalgo and Marc Castellà will join the work team, and will be in charge of giving a stage dimension to the musical score. In order to involve as many people as possible of the Cervera Conservatory community, we decided to create a choir of all the students of the center (except the youngest), and a chamber orchestra of teachers. There will also be the participation of vocal soloists (teachers and students) and a stage choir, the choir of the "magicians", who will end up playing a prominent role in both the vocal and stage part.
The score and the composition process
Once the script is finished, the next stage is the musical creation process itself. About half a year more of work, in which I will work simultaneously on choral and instrumental composition.
I write the music in two different layers: the plot part and the presentation songs of the instruments. The music that covers the plot uses musical ideas that are repeated throughout all the work. The use of different modes and scales is also a characteristic of the work, using the octatonic scale for darker passages, and Lydian mode for brighter sounds, for instance.
On the other hand, the songs used to present the instruments are outside this logic of motifs and scales, so they are like small independent works, each one with its own ending.
La ciutat grisa
The first song of the cantata, after the instrumental prelude, stands out for the darkness, the presence of the fog and an almond forest, which appears to be dead. This beginning places the work in a context of disaffection and absence of values, in which one can easily glimpse the society of the 21st century.
El mag lletraferit
Introduction of the main characters. The Magician (incarnation of Jaume Ferran) introduces himself and invites Anna to join the musical journey that will bring her and her village back to joy.
The great palace: string instruments
The 15 corbels that preside the Major Square of Cervera introduce the string instruments, brought to the stage as dynamic elements.
The great bell tower: percussion instruments
Through the ringing of bells that mark the procession of the Local Festivity, the giant and the bigheads appear. The steps and the dance wrap one of the most technical scenes of the play.
The fairy: wind instruments
The wind instruments arrive, in harmony with the wind, at the "Fossar" Square. A fairy who walks along the terraces sings the qualities of each of them.
The house of knowledge
We arrive at the University: the house of knowledge. The majestic crown, a symbol of the Bourbon monarchy, rests on one of the city’s bigheads, and it is accompanied by the colorful and elegant “trumpets” that, in their practical aspect, serve to evacuate water from the roofs. Wisdom, a sculpture that heads the frontispiece of the neoclassical façade, delivers the scores, so the “Ciutat en Somnis” song can become a reality.
All the elements of the play come together in front of the University so that the "miracle" becomes a reality. "When they resonate again, there will be just one voice speaking at the same time."
Ciutat en somnis
Returning to the opening scene, the Magician goes back to the forest as a metaphor for his death. He reappears on stage as a symbol of his literary work.
The stage dimension
The source of scenic inspiration for "L'Espill Encantat" is "La Segarra", in general, and Cervera, in particular. Both in terms of its landscape and environmental characteristics, as well as in terms of the most unique architectural and heritage elements.
The artistic design is based on defragmenting images retained from the daily life of the city, capturing the iconic essence of Cervera and transforming it into scenographic elements that allow us to be located in different locations.
The stage space is distributed in four perfectly defined spaces which are in constant dialogue: the orchestra; the stage background, set in a landscape of La Segarra; the square, as a space for gathering the most intimate scenes; and the central stage space, for the whole development of the action.
The artistic proposal is dressed in costumes of the earth's own tones, which contrast with the vivid colors of the iconic elements. There is also a contrasts of the stillness of La Segarra landscape with the magic and dynamism of the arrival of the instruments. In each and every one of these dialogues, the most lively spectator will be able to find some details such as the bearer of the crown of Philip V, the medals of the councilors of "La Paeria", or popular vindictive symbols, among others.
A proposal with multiple readings and interpretations that complements Jan Clota, as a stage builder, and Gemma Oriol, who designs an exquisite, functional and elegant costume, inspired by the characteristic and most typical elements of La Segarra.
The magicians choir
The hectic journey of the protagonists with constant location changes requires that the choir and the scenography become the same unit. For this reason, and already in the composition phase, work is being done on the importance of a choir made up of 15 magicians (coinciding with the 15 corbels on the façade of La Paeria) as one of the stage pillars of the work.
In the scene, the "magicians" are the vehicle of transport through space and also the catalyst for emotion and magic. A group endowed with movement, great expressiveness and technical ability to move large volumes and integrated props -with naturalness- as an inseparable part of one's own body. A team of singing actors able to create their own dialogue between the scenography and the performance, which accompanies and intertwines with the adventures of Anna and the Magician.
Gest o moviment amb el que torna el passat, que mai se n'anirà del tot si estem atents; i podem retenir-lo de nou en la pura essència que ens deixa l'eco de la música.