Zara Zote

For the 25th Anniversary
of the Sarasota Chapter
of the American Recorder Society

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History and Performance Notes

cover artThe Sarasota Chapter of the American Recorder Society is celebrating 25 years as a chapter! As part of their celebration, they contacted me to write a piece for them to debut at their concert on March 9, 2008. My idea was a Renaissance-style piece inspired by the masters of the Flemish school, such as Josquin Desprez (c.1440-1521), Jacob Obrecht (1450-1505), and Ludwig Senfl (1486-c.1543). Like Desprez’ inspirational setting of La Spagna, Zara Zote ("za-ra zoh-tay") is for SATBB recorders; but unlike La Spagna with a single cantus firmus (main melody) framed by duets, Zara Zote has 2 cantus firmus lines, mostly in canon, supported by a trio.

Performance Note: Cantus 1 and Cantus 2 should be played by a pair of like instruments, one in C and the other in F, e.g. Tenor and Bass recorders, Soprano and Alto crumhorns or other soft double reeds, or sung by Soprano and Alto or Tenor and Bass voices. However it is performed, the octave relationship should be such that Cantus 1 is above Cantus 2. For Alto singers and players who do not read bass clef, a separate treble-clef Cantus 2 part has been provided; Alto recorders would play the part reading up an octave. The outer parts (Superius, Altus, and Bassus) were composed with Soprano, Alto, and Bass recorders in mind but can be played on any instruments in the proper octave relationship.

The text comes from the fourth poem of Petrarch’s (1304-1374) Rime Sparse, a collection of over 360 love poems to Laura, the unavailable object of his famously unrequited love. It has been slightly adapted — the phrase “Zara Zote” was not in the original poem — as well as shortened by two stanzas.

Zarazote, according to maps dating back to the early 18th century, was the original name for the city of Sarasota. Sources suggest that it was the name of the daughter of the Spanish explorer who settled the area.

The Lyrics

Zara Zote
Que’ ch’infinita providentia et arte
mostrò nel suo mirabil magistero,
che crïò Zara Zote et quell’altro hemispero,
et mansüeto piú Giove che Marte,

ed or di picciol borgo un sol n’à dato,
tal che natura e ‘l luogo si ringratia
onde sí bella donna al mondo nacque.

Venticinque anni!

Zara Zote
What infinite providence and art
He showed in his wonderful mastery,
who created Zara Zote and the other hemisphere,
and Jupiter far gentler than Mars,

and now from a little village a sun is given,
such that the place, and nature, praise themselves,
out of which so lovely a lady is born to the world.

Twenty-five years!


 Zara Zote

Performed at the Berkeley Early Music Festival, June 2008

Mark McMahon, Superius
Kathy Cochran, Altus
Greta Hryciw, Cantus 1
Alan Paul, Cantus 2
Glen Shannon, Bassus

Jennifer Torresen, Soprano voice
Darby Hoover, Alto voice