Carlos Guastavino: Ya me voy a retirar

Written by Thomas West


In category: Song of the Day

Published March 5, 2020

Today’s post will be a bit shorter than my first three as I am in a particularly crazy part of my week. No week of featuring “Songs in the Key of Steven Blier” would be complete without a song by Argentinian composer Carlos Guastavino. Steve first brought Guastavino’s music into life during my junior year at Juilliard and I ended up dedicating an entire section of my junior recital to his songs. Some of my favorites include “Pampamapa”, “El clavel del aire blanco”, “Abismo de sed”, and “Bonita rama de sauce”. But today’s song of the day is my all time favorite Guastavino tune— “Ya me voy a retirar”. 

The text reads:
I shall now go back to the sad, solitary fields. 
To see if I can forget those lovely eyes. 

Those lovely eyes that gazed upon me. 
And that robbed me of my sleep, 
I shall now go back

Where the turtle-dove lives,
To see whether I can find
The thing my soul needs. 
The thing my soul needs

Because they injured me
Those eyes that caused my ruin. 
I shall now go back 

To where the thrushes live
To see if I can find
A cure for my ills.
For I was injured 
By those eyes that gazed upon me. 

This song is special to me for a number of reasons. It became a central component of one of my earliest producing projects at Juilliard—my junior recital with classmate Kresley Figueroa where I turned the piece into a duet between two lovers on opposite sides of the stage, stuck in their own minds as they each think of the pain the other has caused them. I even had the piece follow Sondheim’s “Barcelona” from Company—a kind of crazy concept that totally worked. In our “Barcelona”, Bobby runs out of the hall when April finally agrees to stay—setting up the wistful Spanish ballad. 

“Ya me voy” is also a song that I have found I come back to again and again when I’m working on incredibly difficult or even atonal music and just need a refreshing reminder of why I love music and singing. It’s just THAT beautiful. 

And lastly, it reminds me of my work at Juilliard with Steve—four years of coachings that I so deeply treasured. I listen to it and I can hear him correcting my Spanish, helping me stay on my voice, leading me towards a richer, grounded, more “adult” form of music-making. 

Unfortunately, there were not many recordings to choose from on YouTube but here is one I felt was pretty good. I don’t know the singer or pianist but I hope you enjoy this gorgeous, simple song as much as I do. I look forward to writing much more tomorrow and signing off from my week of blogging with a bang! 

author: Thomas West

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Named by President Obama as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Thomas West is a creative artist and entrepreneur making waves for his dual career as a renowned baritone and nonprofit executive. Performance highlights have included a Tanglewood Music Center fellowship, covering Silvio in Pagliacci with Opera San Jose, Morales in Carmen with the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Mississippi Symphony, the world premiere of Wayne Oquin’s Meditation in Alice Tully Hall and multiple performances with Cantori New York and the Chautauqua Institution. As a producer, he has led over forty artists on tours to Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, New Hampshire and most recently Kigali, Rwanda. He is currently the Executive Director of The Peace Studio – a NY-based nonprofit dedicated to advancing the work of world-class young artists, journalists and storytellers as peace builders. Thomas appeared with NYFOS earlier this season for its NYFOS@Orient residency and can be seen on March 17 at Merkin Hall for this year’s Caramoor Vocal Rising Stars Program.


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