I wrote the final words that accompany the piece:
“Though we may be physically separated, we are still together at heart. Nothing connects us more in this world than sharing our art.”
We wanted to show that we could still create beautiful work as a group even if we couldn’t be in the studio together and complete the season of in-theater performances. Repeat was a nostalgic, yet optimistic piece, so I wanted the beginning of the new work to juxtapose that feeling a little bit.
I started Saudade with the ending notes of Repeat, just slowed-down and more somber/empty. I just feel like the pandemic has been a collective loss for everyone, whether it’s losing loved ones to the virus, losing a job and sense of security, or losing the routine and happiness of normal life, and I wanted to express that sadness and struggle a bit more in Saudade.
For me, the piece has four sections, the first of which represents that sadness and longing, whereas the second returns to the sense of hope and nostalgia reminiscent of Repeat.
However, this feeling wears off and there is an abrupt return to reality and loss in the third section, which uses the musical theme of section 1, only a little more dissonant and minor this time.
Finally, the piece ends in a section I envision as the clouds opening up and the sun pouring through. I wanted to end on a more peaceful, optimistic note and resolve the tension created throughout the piece.
‣ “Saudade” is a very profound word; how did this ultimately become the title of the work? Were there other candidates?
Haley: There were two main ideas that I wanted to capture with the title of the piece: the meaning behind Repeat and the range of pandemic-inspired feelings that went into the sections of the new work.
I wrote Repeat after my grandfather had passed away, and it was a way for me to express the bittersweet reminiscing I was going through. I chose the title Repeat because all of these memories with him were playing on repeat in my mind.
So that piece has a nostalgic tone to it, and I revisited that feeling with the new work, going into an even deeper sense of longing.
I wanted to find a word or brief title that captured this sense of loss and nostalgia, because I felt that it was something we all can relate to with the pandemic. For a while, I was trying so hard to think of something, and nothing was coming to me. I was honestly a bit frustrated.
Then, one day I serendipitously discovered the word “saudade” through TikTok (though part of me hates to admit it), and it just felt right. This beautiful Portuguese word captured both a sense of loss/nostalgia and a hint of positivity, which I found to be perfect for the composition.
I sent it to Ryoko, and she thought it was perfect!
‣ Was the score already composed or did the movement and musical creations develop together?
Haley: I composed the piece before Ryoko started choreographing, so we talked over the phone a few times both before and during Ryoko’s artistic process, discussing thoughts behind the piece and adjusting tempo.