Geoffrey Alvarez: vocal & choral music

Vocal Music


song cycle (in German) for high voice and piano

sample score duration 103′11


        Letter from Friedrich Hölderlin to Casimir Ulrich Böhlendorf

        Nürtingen, 2nd December, 1802 excerpt 


  1. Der Nekar

  2. Wie Meeresküsten...

  3. Ihr sichergebauten Alpen...

  4. Der Spaziergang

  5. Die Asyle

  6. In lieblicher Bläue...

  7. Der Ister

  8. Lebenslauf

  9. An Zimmern

  10. Die Wanderung

  11. An die Parzen

  12. Vom Delphin

  13. Das fröhliche Leben

  14. Die Heimath

  15. Burg Tübingen

  1. The Neckar

  2. As on to sea coasts...

  3. You firmly built Alps...

  4. The Walk

  5. The Sanctuaries

  6. In lovely blueness

  7. The Ister

  8. The Course of Life

  9. For Zimmer

  10. The Journey

  11. To the Fates

  12. Of the Dolphin

  13. The Merry Life

  14. Home

  15. Tübingen Fortress

In 2013, Carola Schlüter, with the Phorminx Ensemble, premiered my song-cycle susurritos sonrosados in Darmstadt and Tübingen. The power and virtuosity of the singer’s performance and stunning location, near the tower where Hölderlin spent the last 36 years of his life (pictured above) and his words “…and the philosophical light around my window is now my joy...” (letter to Boehlendorf, December 2, 1802) made the composition of a new song cycle - Hölderlinfester - dedicated to Ms Schlüter inevitable.

A recital programme including this work has been devised by Ms Schlüter - details and a recording of the opening letter and three of the songs here.

The tariff below applies to the second edition.

Download Licence £7 each copy

 Printed copy UK postage: £52.72

  Printed copy International postage: £57.40

Is-sliem għalek Marija

a Maltese Ave Maria for baritone, trumpet and organ

This work was written in direct response to working with Maltese baritone Joseph Lia and trumpeter Isaac Lucas during the 2016 Malta International Organ Festival.

Cover illustration: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Ghaxaq, Malta.

Photograph © Richard Faenza 2012

score duration 8′08

Download Licence £1.50 each copy

printed score and trumpet part  –  UK postage: £12

printed score and trumpet part  –  International postage: £15 

Tliet għanjiet ta tluq ġodda

Three songs of new departures

a Maltese song-cycle setting three poems by Ruzar Briffa

Following the invitation in 2011 by musicologist, opera singer and dramaturge Joseph Vella Bondin to participate in the adjudication of the Second National Music Competition for Maltese Composers, Geoffrey Álvarez became deeply interested in the culture of the island of Malta including its unique semitic-romance language and it seemed inevitable that he was drawn towards a Maltese text to set; his association with Bondin was the obvious first choice for this project. However, Bondin felt that his literary talents were better expressed in theatrical works and suggested instead three poems by Ruzar Briffa which had a common theme.

“I chose the three poems to fit a specific theme: a focus on three important episodes in the poet’s life; his reaction to family changes through his sister’s marriage; his personal reaction to what he found in India as part of his medical studies; his reaction to political changes in the beloved country that gave him birth.” Joseph Vella Bondin - March 2017, Malta

sample score duration 24′31

Download Licence £2.00 each copy

printed score  –  UK postage: £16

printed score  –  International postage: £22

A Magnificat for high women's or children's voices and string ensemble.

score digital realisationduration 9′24

  Download Licence £2 each copy

  Printed copy - UK postage: £15

  Printed copy International postage: £18

Orchestral material available from Geoffrey Alvarez

More information here

susurritos sonrosadas

for flutes, clarinets, soprano and percussion


Soprano, Flute doubling Piccolo, Alto and Bass Flute

B flat Clarinet doubling B flat Bass Clarinet,

Percussionist: Maracas, Djembe, Xylorimba,

sample score duration 2415

Written for the Phorminx Ensemble.

First two performances by the Phorminx Ensemble.

  1. Akademie für Tonkunst, Darmstadt. 9th September 2013

  2. Tuebingen, Ev Stift. 27th September 2013

Composers Note

Sussuritos sonrosadas is a Traumzyklus in five poems:

throughout the first poem - almohada  de sueños --

the poet lies on a bed half awake, luxuriating, barely moving

and relaxed, caressed by the rich lower notes of the bass flute,

clarinet arabesques and undulating rolls played by the maracas.

However, as soon as the poet falls asleep in the second poem,

(s)he is unnerved by dark, menacing, constantly changing

threats welling up from the unconscious - amenaza camaleónesa.


Suddenly in poem four - vuelo - the dreamer is hurled

through the sky, much as Ganymede was by Zeus. The harmony

is here fleeting and fluid whilst there are elements of

motivic cohesion, such as the recurrence of a strident triplet

crotchet figure played by the flute near the beginning of the poem.

caído Icarense initially returns to the stasis of the first poem, but now

characterised by high piccolo notes counter-pointed against low clarinet notes;

the infinite expanse of a bright summer sky. The poet is vertiginously propelled to a

distant speck in the sky and becomes identified with this object, Icarus. The howling air

rushing past the hero during the inevitable descent takes his breath away, suggested by the

use of a variety of extended techniques for the flute, such as jet whistles and timbre modification.

Three of the poems were inspired by paintings by Boucher, Goya and Bruegel;

listeners are invited to discover the relevant pictures at their leisure.


Illustration: photograph of the sun taken by NASA.

  Download Licence £2 each copy

  Printed copy International postage: £15

  Printed copy UK postage: £12

Performing material available from Geoffrey Álvarez

Songs my Parrot Taught Me: A carnival of domestic animals

for two sopranos, tenor, clarinet, violin, cello and pianoforte

Illustration by Polly Hope.

Illustration by Polly Hope.

excerpt Millies Mad Rush (song seven) of the cycle •  duration 38′25

  1. Figaro: Parrot Fashion 225

  2. Catch for Bilitis 453

  3. Doxys Doxology 306

  4. Branwens Barkarolle 336

  5. Dorabellas Aria 136

  6. Lurchers Lullaby 426

  7. Millies Mad Rush 246

  8. Debussys Moan 339

  9. Messiaens Bird Song 305

  10. Giorgios Crow 450  

  11. Fugue for Thought 320

  12. Figaros Farewell 037

Dramatis personae

Figaro: a green amazonian parrot, very bossy.

Bilitis; a tabby-point Siamese cat, a fat lady.

Doxy: a mongrel terrier, passionate and assertive.

Branwen: a smooth haired grey welsh lurcher, very poetic.

Dorabella: Branwenʼs daughter, a giddy girl and very pretty.

Millie: Doxyʼs mother, a fox terrier, noisy and obsessive.

Giorgio: a bantam cockerel, macho and aggressive.

Giorgiʼs four wives: totally submissive females.

  Download Licence £2.50 each copy

  Printed copy UKl postage: £17

  Printed copy International postage: £21

Performing material available from Geoffrey Álvarez


two decadent poems by Ernest Dowson

for baritone, viola and pianoforte

sample score digital realisationduration 18′17″

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   Printed copy – UK postage: £9

  Printed copy International postage: £11

Performing material available from Geoffrey Álvarez

My Last Muse

a song cycle for bass and orchestra: poems by Robert Graves

sample score request access to archive recording duration 47′27″


Piccolo, Flute, Oboe, Cor Anglais, Clarinet in B flat, Alto Saxophone, Bassoon,

2 Horns in F, Trumpet in B flat, Trombone, Tuba,

Percussion (4 players) 2 Side Drums, Tenor drum, Bass Drum, Clashed Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Anvil, Iron piping, Xylophone, Vibraphone,

Bass, Harp, Guitar, Strings

The search for a ‘grammar of musical myth’ as Graves’ White Goddess is a ‘grammar of poetic myth’ - Gravesian Analysis - was initially proposed in a paper I delivered to the Robert Graves Society at the University of Manchester in September 1998, and subsequently published by Gravesiana, the Journal of the Robert Graves Society in two parts: Part I in Volume 2 Number 2 / Summer 1999, Part II in Volume 3 Number 1 / Summer 2007

This work attracted the attention of feminist theologian Asphodel Long, ethnomusicologist and editor of New Grove, Veronica Doubleday and the poetess Kathleen Raine. in 2008 I returned to St Johns College at  University of Oxford to deliver a paper on his setting of five poems by Robert Graves My Last Muse inspired by dancer and choreographer Julia Simonne,  Graves’ last Muse. I conducted this work in 2008 in St Johns Smith Square with his orchestra,  the Alvarez Chamber Orchestra, the poems recited by Julia Simonne herself, pictured on the right at the performance with Bass soloist Patrick Ardagh Walter and guitar continuo Timothy Walker.

  Download Licence £3 each copy

  Printed copy UK  postage: £21

  Printed copy International postage: £28

Performing material available from Geoffrey Álvarez

Missa Elissa

peruse and purchase duration 2024

for chorus, timpani, organ and strings

Illustration: queen Dido-Elissa of Carthage

Performing material available from Geoffrey Álvarez

sample score excerpt Magnificat 7′47 Nunc Dimittis 6′53″

The Magnificat was premiered by the Waltham Singers conducted by Andrew Fardell in 2010.

The recording here is of a private celebration at St Alban's the Martyr in Holborn, London.

The first performance of the Nunc Dimittis was at the wedding of Tamsyn Steel to

Michael David Rose September, 2006 in St Peterʼs Church, Mevagissy, Cornwall,

the second performance: the funeral of Anna Greening, All Hallows by the Tower, November 2007

Peruse and purchase Magnificat alone

Peruse and purchase Nunc Dimittis alone

  Download Licence for 20 Copies £10

Printed score - UK postage £3

  Printed score - International postage £5

Multiple copies of the performing material available from Geoffrey Álvarez

Three Sacred Drinking Songs

for low soprano, clarinet and piano

Hebrew: Psalm XXIII, 23′34

Chinese: The Eternal Southern Hill 916

Sanskrit: Hymn to Soma 956

sample score total duration 42′46

  Download Licence £2.50 each copy

  Printed score - UK postage £19

  Printed score - International postage £23

El duende

a song cycle for tenor and piano

six poems by Federico García Lorca

sample score duration 2024

  1. Cumbre

  2. Cancion de la Mariquita

  3. Dos Estrellas del Mar

  4. Saeta

  5. Ribereñas

  6. De profundis

Kevin West - Tenor, Geoffrey Álvarez - Pianoforte

Brans Singing Head

for soprano, clarinet and harp

duration circa 72 details

Performing material available from Geoffrey Álvarez

Tríptico Nicaragüense

three poems by Rubén Darío for tenor and pianoforte

sample score duration 1245

  Download Licence £1.50 each copy

  Printed copy UK  postage: £7

  Printed copy International postage: £9

The Raging Goddesses

for two sopranos and two percussionists

Première: Toronto, Canada.

sample score duration circa 7

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 Printed copy UK  postage: £5

  Printed copy International  postage: £7

Performing material available from Geoffrey Álvarez

El corazón del mundo

for soprano and orchestra

peruse and purchase duration 9'26"

The poem El corazón del mundo is from Masque and Marriage, the third part of a five opera dream based on the Weltanschauung of the Kogi of Colombia: The Kings Last Prophecy.

There are two main sources: Los Kogi de La Sierra Nevada by Reichel Dolmatoff and The Heart of the World; the latter is both a documentary and a book by Alan Ereira. Alan Ereira notes the universal resonance of Kogi beliefs in his work cited above, finding echoes in other world religions: the Madrona, for instance, mentioned in the song, is the archetype of the Great Mother found in cultures as diverse as Ancient Mexico, Old Europe, India: the Virgin of the Catholic world.

illustration: Aztec statue of Coatlicue, the earth goddess

Performing material available from Geoffrey Álvarez


for mixed choir, soloist and double orchestra

  1. The Entry into Jerusalem

  2. The Agony in the Garden

  3. The Flagellation


Orchestra 1   Orchestra 2
Piccolo 1 Piccolo 2
Flute 1 Flute 2
Oboe l Oboe 2
Clarinet in E flat English Horn
Clarinet 1 in B flat Clarinet 2 in B flat
Bass Clarinet Bassoon 2
Bassoon 1 Contrabassoon
Horn 1, 2, 3 Horn 4, 5, 6
Trumpet 1 Trumpet 2, 3
Trombone 1, 2 Trombone 3
Percussion * Percussion *
Cowbells Timpani
Vibraphone 1 Vibraphone 2
Xylorimba 1 Xylorimba 2
Pianoforte 1 Pianoforte 2
Violin 1, 2 Violin 3, 4
Viola 1 Viola 2
Violoncello 1 Violoncello 2
Double Bass 1 Double Bass 2
Choir 1 Choir 2

* 2 ,Roto-Toms, Side Drum,Tenor Drum,

Small Bass Drum,Large Bass Drum/Tamtam



Evangelist – Tenor

Jesus Baritone

Pilate Soprano

Judas Tenor

Member of Crowd Soprano

Performing material available from Geoffrey Álvarez