Award-winning composer and singer, Mari Esabel Valverde, has been commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association, Texas Music Educators Association, Seattle Men’s and Women’s Choruses, and Boston Choral Ensemble, among others. She has also 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, Walton Music, along with being self-published.
Based in North Texas, she taught voice at the high school level for over six years. Her former students have participated in All-State Choirs and State Solo Competition. She currently teaches singing and transgender voice training with Your Lessons Now.
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 the American Choral Directors Association, the American Composers Forum, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.
To learn more, visit https://marivalverde.com
When the Dust Settles
Premiered at the 2018-2019 concert,
Heart's of Courage
You opened your arms for the forgotten ones
the discarded & misunderstood
you showed them a mother’s love
enveloped them in a delicate
and powerful embrace, beautiful star
when the dust settles, we’ll always remember
how you showed us how to fight
even while the jagged blade of sorrow
pressed on us, to fight
ceaselessly, to tend to one another
You said, when the dust settles
I hope my girls will be okay
You cried out from the cells of Attica
and outside Stonewall’s battered streets
Do you hear me? Are you listening?
How many more have to die?
your heart bigger than any cage
even in the midst of so much loss
you remind us to dream
to hold tomorrow between our lips
we deserve to kiss without fear
to grow old
to sway our hips
to wear what we wish
to relish in the pleasure of our bodies
the seeds you planted continue to grow
into blooming song
when the dust settles, we will raise our voices
just as you have always done, in glorious proclamation
we will let everyone know—
We are still here!
We are still here!
Commissioned by VOX, Peninsula Women's Choir, and Martín Benvenuto, When The Dust Settles, pays homage to Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a former grass roots organizer and lifelong transgender rights activist. With text by Amir Rabiyah, this piece for treble voices is a powerful reminder to stay "strong and delicate" at same time, even in the midst of loss and struggle.
Words from Mari Esabel Valverde:
“When the Dust Settles is a culmination of trans stories brought to life through singing, written in homage to Miss Major. Amir Rabiyah’s original poem, created only for this song, synthesizes themes of intersectional identity, survival, and humanity, striving to share a bit of Miss Major’s perspective. Phrases such as ‘when the dust settles,’ and ‘we are still here,’ are direct quotes, while other statements and themes are paraphrased. Their words furthermore point toward a trans woman’s right to life and to pleasure.
The choice of Db major, the key of the earth, hearkens back to “Our Phoenix,” my first collaboration with Rabiyah, memorializing the lives of our trans siblings who are murdered across America every year. But now, we celebrate trans lives and mold the relative minor into its parallel major—Bb—carrying along tones of Db major as badges for what we have survived to get to our “honeyed” days.
Patterns on the Snow
Commissioned in 2016
Lose the pain in the snow
Where all footsteps melt
And the magic trance
Bids you rise and follow
Forgetting all you felt
Except the dance, except the dance
Lose the pain in the love
Where all being flows
Though the step is intricate
Still as through the dance you move
Silently the pattern grows
To include, not reject
Lose the pain living
Where the self however haunted,
Dance on because it must,
All forgiving all forgiving.
Lose again all that you wanted
Except trust, except trust.
Lose the pain in the faith
Gladly as the dance grows graver,
Love and living both let go,
Love and pain be danced to death
Let the dancer never waver
Drawing patterns on the snow.
Commissioned by the 2016 Women's Choir Consortium (ACDA), this piece describes someone metaphorically "dancing," through different aspects of their life. The text was written by poet and novelist May Sarton, who is known for strong feminist and queer themes in her work.
Words from Mari Esabel Valverde:
"The narrative is set in 4 distinct realms: first 'in the snow,' then, 'in the love,' 'in the living,' and finally, 'in the faith.' The dance begins, and we follow the 'self' through phases, through each in which there is an exhibit of heroic endurance. 'Life and living both let go...' It sound terrifying letting go of life and love, releasing the notions of who we are, what we have, and what we do. But, it is through the process of letting go that we endure and become able to dance on to the unknown extent of our existence... We live to create, another dazzling day."