Abeja Blanca for Mezzo-Soprano, English Horn, and Piano
Trained as a pianist and bassoonist, American composer Dan Welcher studied at the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. He was Principal Bassoon of the Louisville Orchestra for six years in the mid-1970s, while also teaching composition and theory at the University of Louisville. He joined the faculty of the University of Texas in 1978 and is still teaching at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas/Austin, where he also directs the New Music Ensemble. He has composed widely across all genres of classical music, including three operas, seven concertos, six symphonies, and numerous songs, piano pieces, and chamber music.
Abeja Blanca was written in 1978 for the legendary American mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani, who wanted a piece she could sing with her husband, English hornist Philip West. “I have to get hit by lighting to write a piece in the first place,” Welcher says. “There has to be some kind of initial ‘aha,’ which is the genesis of the idea…. The problem was not finding a good text for Jan. She could sing anything. The problem was finding a reason for that double reed. I couldn’t think of one until I discovered Pablo Neruda’s poem ‘Abeja Blanca’ (White Bee), which springs from the image of a bee buzzing in the soul. That was it. That was the ‘aha’.” – John Henken