Sueños de Esperanza – Priscilla Salisbury

    Sunday, December 6 at 5 pm (Eastern)

    (debut of prerecorded recital)

    Sueños de Esperanza (Songs of Hope)

    Priscilla Salisbury, soprano, with Teruhiko Toda, piano
    Texts of Maria Marroquin set by composer Henry Mollicone

    PROGRAM NOTES by Priscilla Salisbury

    My recital consists of a single short cycle of songs: Sueños de Esperanza (Dreams of Hope) by Henry Mollicone.  The set consists of four stories of immigrant women for soprano and piano accompaniment, with texts by Maria Marroquin.

    “These songs were composed for a benefit event held by DAY WORKERS OF MOUNTAIN VIEW, a strong organization that serves immigrants in Northern California. Having visited their offices, I was very impressed with the range of programs they provide for immigrants, and the personal commitment of their director, Maria Marroquin.

    Maria interviewed four women, and transcribed their true stories into poems which I have set to music. The stories have a common tread that suggests the difficulties and painful experiences of immigration in our society. It is our hope that the stories of these brave women help to raise awareness of this important issue.”

    —Henry Mollicone

    The American dream of four immigrant women often centers around trying to build a better life for their family.  Unfortunately, the reality often includes being torn between home and a better life.  Their stories resonate with me in my own immigrant experience. I appreciate, now, what I have and the sacrifices my parents have made for my family.

    I am an immigrant living in this country for 25 years and I’ve been a citizen for about 7 of those years. It was a very long and challenging process moving to a new country, learning a new language and culture and not feeling like I belonged. I can now confidently say that this is my home and I have a voice for all immigrants who come to this country in search of a better life. I connect with the stories of these four women and have shared common emotions and concerns at some point in my life. I hope these pieces can bring comfort to the oppressed and bring awareness to the heedless. 

    Song synopses:

    Alicia — She came from Tonatico where her life was filled with hunger, burdens and sad awakenings. When she became a mother she wanted the best for her kids so she moved to the States to allow them to pursue their dreams of being a doctor and a professional athlete. 

    Lilia — Her father died, leaving behind fourteen children. Going to school during the week and working during weekends to put food on the table. She fell in love, married and had a child. They fled north to have a better life, but after three years her husband left them. Her heart tells her to go back to the motherland, but her reason tells her to stay here and work. Either way her daughter is her strength. 

    Raquel — She is twenty years old and a mother of five. She left to the north to send money to her children in hopes of one day being with them again. She survived crossing the border by thinking of her kids. After working as a babysitter, caregiver and house cleaner she was able to bring them to this land. Drugs, gangs and alcohol got the best of her. She’s now old, alone and afraid of living. If she stays her life is not better without papers, she’s just a shadow in the dark night.

    Maria — She left her son, her only source of life-energy, in Oaxaca, moving to the north to provide a better life for him.  She assures herself of this over and over to justify her stay here. However, the doubt creeps in — should she return to Oaxaca to give her son love or should she stay here to provide food for him? She pleads to God to stop division between families at the border. She asks for His presence to repair so much damage.



    Tonatico, mi dulce
    pueblo donde nací,
    De una familia grande
    como mis anhelos.
    Tonatico, la cuna de mis sueños,
    Mi familia, lo mejor de mis recuerdos.
    Mi niñez huyó espantada
    por el hambre.
    La adolescencia me vistió
    de responsabilidades.
    La vida me cubrió de
    deberes grises, Y tristes
    despertares de continuo.Llegó el amor a Tonatico,
    ese amor que aun me mantiene viva,
    Ese amor que me hizo
    desafiar todo peligro,
    Ese amor que me inspiró
    a perseguir nuevas estrellas,
    Y me trajo hasta aquí
    Y me hizo madre.

    Tonatico, Tonatico
    cuna de mi vida.
    Tonatico, Tonatico
    nido de mi amor.
    Dos semillas germinadas, mi constante
    Inspiración nuestros dos hijos son.

    Nuestros hijos son
    nuestra bendición.
    Protegerlos, que no
    sientan ni un dolor,
    Que estudien, que prosperen,
    Es nuestra importante primer misión.

    Ella quiere ser doctora,
    El, atleta estrella.
    Pido a dios nos ilumine,
    Para ayudarles sus sueños a lograr.
    Eso es todo lo que pido.


    Tonatico, my sweet
    hometown, where I was born
    to a family as large
    as my longings.
    Tonatico, the cradle of my dreams,
    My family, the best of my memories.
    My childhood fled,
    scared off by hunger.
    Adolescence burdened
    me with responsibilities.
    Life covered me with gray,
    drab duties and continuous
    sad awakenings.Love arrived at Tonatico,
    this love that keeps me living,
    This love that made me
    challenge all danger,
    This love that inspired
    me to pursue new stars,
    And brought me here,
    making me a mother.

    Tonatico, Tonatico,
    cradle of my life.
    Tonatico, Tonatico,
    nest of my love.
    Two planted seeds of constant
    Inspiration are our two sons.

    Our children are
    our blessing.
    To protect them so that
    they don’t feel any pain,
    That they study, that they prosper
    Is our most important mission.

    She wants to be a doctor,
    He, a star athlete.
    I ask God to illuminate us,
    To help them achieve their dreams.
    This is all that I ask.


    Catorce huérfanos dejó
    mi padre al morir.
    Fue muy duro, fue muy triste
    En la semana la escuela;
    Sábados y domingos
    Trabajar para comer.
    Me enamoré y me entregué.
    Fui feliz por poco tiempo.
    En mi vientre el amor germinó.
    Buscando una mejor vida
    Para esa vida en mi vientre,
    Al país del norte huí.
    Sin a mi madre adiós decir.

    Mi niña nació, pensé
    todo era perfecto.
    Mi niña, su padre y yo!

    Tres años duró mi dicha.
    Sí, el nos abandonó,
    Diciendo que volvería.
    Y aun esperándolo estoy!

    Mi niña lo ama,
    lo espera aun también.
    No tengo corazón
    de quitarle esa esperanza.
    Si casi nada le doy.
    Al menos, pienso
    siquiera tiene ese anhelo.

    Debes volver
    a tu patria,
    Exige mi corazón.
    Quédate aquí y trabaja,
    Aconseja la razón.

    Total, irse o quedarse,
    Si estoy con ella da igual.
    Ella es mi orgullo y mi fuerza.
    Ella es principio y final.


    Fourteen orphans remained
    after father passed away.
    It was very hard, it was very sad
    In school during weekdays;
    Saturdays and Sundays
    we worked for food.
    I fell in love and gave myself away.
    I was happy for a while.
    In my womb our love blossomed.
    Looking for a better future
    for the life I carried inside,
    I came to this land.
    I left my mom without a goodbye.

    My daughter was born
    and I thought all was perfect.
    My daughter, her father and me!

    My happiness lasted three years.
    Yes, he abandoned us,
    Promising to come back.
    Still, I’m waiting for him!

    My daughter loves him,
    and waits for him too.
    I don’t have the heart
    to take away her hope.
    I almost can’t provide for her.
    At least, I know
    she still maintains the desire.

    You should return
    to your country,
    my heart says loudly.
    Stay here longer and work,
    My reason advises.

    After all, to stay or to leave,
    If she is with me it is the same.
    She is my pride and my strength.
    She’s the beginning and the end.


    Veinte años y
    madre de cinco.
    Veinte años y lo
    único más grande
    Que mi pena y mi miedo
    Era mi responsabilidad
    de mantenerlos.Abusada de continuo
    por el cobarde,
    Agobiada por el hambre
    y por el peso del dolor,
    Decidí al norte venir.

    Conociendo lo difícil del viaje,
    que con niños cuesta más.
    A ganar dinero voy,
    por ellos mandaré cuando
    Dios me lo permita.
    Y llorando, dije adiós.

    El cruce de la frontera
    fue una horrible pesadilla.
    Las fuerzas me abandonaron
    y tres veces me desmayé.
    Solo el recuerdo de mis niños,
    me puso de nuevo en pie.

    En fin, limpiando casas,
    cuidando niños y enfermos,
    Trabajé, junté, y me los traje.
    Oh mi Dios, al fin feliz!
    Mas la ilusion duró poco.

    Pandillas, alcohol y drogas
    ingresaron a mi vida.
    Ahora sola, triste y vieja,
    tengo miedo de vivir.
    Si regreso me espera su venganza.

    Si me quedo, no es
    mejor mi porvenir,
    sin seguro, sin licencia,
    Sin papeles, solo soy una
    sombra más en la noche oscura.


    Twenty years old and
    mother of five.
    Twenty years old and
    the only thing bigger
    Than my sadness and my fear
    Was my responsibility
    to feed them.Abused continuously
    by the coward,
    I was hungry and
    depressed all the time.
    I decided to come to the north.

    But I knew the risk of this trip
    was even riskier with kids.
    I’m going to make money
    and I’ll send for them
    when God wills.
    Crying, I said goodbye.

    Crossing the border
    was a horrible nightmare.
    My strength abandoned me
    and I fainted three times.
    Only the memory of my children
    brought me to my feet again.

    Finally, cleaning houses,
    baby sitting and caregiving,
    I was able to bring them.
    Oh my God, happy at last!
    But it was just a brief illusion.

    Gangs, alcohol and drugs
    came into my life.
    Now alone, old and sad,
    I’m afraid of living.
    If I return, his vengeance awaits.

    If I stay, my future is
    no better without a
    social security number or a license.
    Without papers, I’m just one
    more shadow in the dark night.


    Cuando dejé Oaxaca,
    Una parte de mi se quedó allá –
    La que me da energía
    Por la que sueño alegrías,
    La que me mantiene viva,
    La que me detiene aquí,
    La que me conserva enhiesta.
    A pesar de tanta soledad y tristeza –
    Mi hijo,
    mi niño amado,
    mío solo mío,
    Al que dejé en mi Oaxaca
    por amarlo tanto así.
    Lo dejé para labrarle una vida
    con mis sueños,
    Construirle un futuro
    con mis manos.

    Lo repito y lo repito hasta
    grabarlo en mi mente.
    Sin embargo
    la duda siempre conmigo,
    Sigo aquí
    o a mi Oaxaca regreso?
    Le doy comida o amor?

    Pido a Dios que me ilumine
    Y a todas las madres del mundo.
    Pido a Dios
    que me lo cuide
    Y a todos los hijos
    que sin madre están.

    Pido a Dios que una frontera
    No divida más familias;
    Exijo su intervención
    Para parar tanto llanto,
    Parar ya tanta muerte.

    Pido que se haga presente
    Que repare tanto daño.
    El es todo poderoso.
    El también tiene mamá.


    When I left Oaxaca,
    A part of me stayed there –
    The part that gives me energy
    For dreaming happy dreams,
    The part that holds my life together,
    The part that keeps me here,
    The part that keeps me upright
    Through so much loneliness and grief –
    My child,
    my beloved son,
    mine alone,
    Whom I left in Oaxaca
    because I love him so.
    left to give him a life
    as in my dreams,
    To build him a future
    with my hands.

    I repeat it and repeat it
    until it sticks in my mind.
    Still the question
    is always with me:
    To stay here
    or return to Oaxaca?
    To give him food or love?

    I ask the Lord to enlighten me
    And all the mothers in the world.
    I ask for Him
    to take care of my son
    And for all the children
    who are motherless.

    I ask the Lord that the border
    Not divide more families;
    I plead for His help
    To stop so much crying
    And stop so much death.

    I ask for His presence
    To repair so much damage.
    He is the almighty.
    He also has a mother.