The Tight-rope Walker

Program Notes:

The Tight-rope walker was inspired by a poem written by the Cuban poet Eliseo Diego. This piece was written for Joan La Barbara and Tom Chiu, and is dedicated to them. The singer tells us her thoughts about the tight-rope walker and how she relates this character to some of our own life experiences. The violin player conveys the spirit of the tight-rope walker.



Poem by Eliseo Diego (English translation)


There goes the tight-rope walker

imagining air ventures and prodigies


He’s not like us, the tight-rope walker

His natural ease begins

where the naturalness of the air ends:

from the other space where one lives miraculously

that’s where his imagination inaugurates the celebrations

and each movement is full of sense and beauty


If we think about it, what does the tight-rope walker do

but to walk as we do
 along a path that is his own:

what does it matter if that path is suspended

over an overwhelming abyss if that abyss

burns with the tiny yellows and violets,

reds and purples
 from the miniature hats and caps


What truly matters

is that each step of the self-absorbed tight-rope walker

may very well be the last one,(so that

it is the measure and the pull what guide
 those steps)

The equilibrium must be such a reward

that we cannot imagine


Go on, we say to the tight-rope walker

Go on, we say from the nice safety of our chairs

On the merciful earth

We paid the tickets and we are not leaving