La Ruta Puuc

This multi-movement "La Ruta Puuc" collection was inspired by Bern’s frequent travel to Mexico. La Ruta Puuc is a road through part of the Yucatan peninsula, along which stand great Mayan ruins. Bern wrote these movements over the course of 6 years (2010-2015), preparing a new piece for the faculty concerts at The Midsummer Musical Retreat.
This set can be performed by piano, clarinet and either cello or viola.
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I. La Gruta de Loltun (The Grotto of Loltun)
Clarinet in A, Cello (Viola), Piano (5.85')
This movement is about a cave (gruta) at Loltun. The cave was sacred to the Mayans, their carvings are there and their handprints are on the walls. The cave has the continual sound of dripping water and at the end of the cave the ceiling has collapsed and bright daylight pours down onto the people in the cave.
II. Tlachtli (Game of Ball)
Clarinet in A, Cello (Viola), Piano (3.75')
Tlachtli (sometimes spelled Tlaxtli) – is the ball game played by the ancient Mayans. The ball weighted about 10 pounds and was made of hard rubber. The players could only use their hips and chests to hit the the ball through carved rings of stone. The game was often used, instead of war, to settle arguments between tribes. Winning teams were sometimes sacrificed.
III. La cantilena de X'tabai (The Song of X'tabai)
Clarinet in A, Cello (Viola), Piano (5.3')
X’tabai was a beautiful maiden who was murdered by her twin sister at her wedding. The sister took X’tabai’s wedding dress and married her beloved. Forever afterwards, X’tabai sits in the sacred tree of each village and waits for solitary drunk men to return home at night. She combs her long hair and sings a song (cantilena) to them, enticing them into the forest to make love. The men are always found the next morning, dead, their bodies filled with cactus spines.
IV. Alux'ob
Clarinet in A, Cello (Viola), Piano (3')
Alux’ob are mysterious creatures who protect villagers' homes and corn fields, but they can be mischievous, especially if people forget to leave some food for them.
V. Canción de Cuna de los Zopilotes (Lullaby of the Vultures)
Clarinet in A, Cello (Viola), Piano
Translated as Lullaby of the Vultures, this piece has visual images of the large birds floating high in the sky, aloof and above everything. While the word "vultures" may not bring such an image to mind, their local name ("zopilote") may have much less negative associations. Also, in many cultures it is understood that these birds are doing the necessary work to complete the circle of life.