At the northernmost tip of the island of Mauritius lies Cap Malheureux. Situated there is a
graveyard and at the point where the cliffs drop off to the sea, a tree. Beneath it, draped
in green cloth and surrounded by a small enclosure, is an anonymous grave. On Friday nights,
townspeople visit the tomb, bearing incense and candles. They call the body buried there simply
Baba — father. Prior to the twentieth century, Mauritius was a stopping over point on the spice trade
and a popular migration point for the South Asian diaspora.
My work Cap Malheureux uses the natural sounds of this spot as the basis for its musical materials.
Recordings of the wind have been filtered to yield their most prominent frequencies and these
harmonies create the tonality of the piece. The text is a sentence borrowed from a children's short
story, interrupted by cries and shouts.
Cap Malheureux is a part of Appeal for Identification, a large-scale music/theater work which sets out
to tell the stories of unidentified migrants through the sounds and words of the locations where their
bodies have been found.
Tsai Performing Arts Center, Boston, MA
October 7, 2012
Alea III Ensemble
Rebekah Alexander, soprano