Los Peces en el Río

Program Notes:

Spanish carols have a tendency to tell the nativity story in a rustic simplicity. Here Mary is combing her hair and the fish in the river are enthusiastic about seeing the newborn Christ Child. This stunning instrumental setting was written for Toronto’s Gryphon Trio and singer Patricia O’Callaghan by Cuban-born Canadian pianist, composer, arranger, and educator, Hilario Durán.

Conductor Notes:

SSA with violin, cello, and piano. Sung in Spanish. I heard this performed by the Gryphon Trio and singer Patricia O’Callaghan on their recording “Broken Hearts and Madmen” and, with Hilario’s permission, added two harmony lines to make it a choral piece. It’s folksy and gutsy and the choir and audience loved it. The instrumental parts are virtuosic and brilliant – the choral parts are simple. I gave each of the three verses to alto soloists. If you want to perform this, you will have to ask Hilario about buying a set of the instrumental parts. I will happily provide the choral parts.


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.




La Virgen se está peinando
entre cortina y cortina.
Los cabellos son de oro
y el peine de plata fina.

Pero mira cómo beben los peces en el río.
Pero mira cómo beben por ver a Dios nacido.
Beben y beben y vuelven a beber.
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer.

La Virgen lleva una rosa
en su divina pechera
che se la Dios San Jose
antes che niño naciera.

Pero mira cómo beben…

La Virgen va caminando,
va caminando solita.
Y no lleva más compaña
Que el iño de su manita.

Pero mira cómo beben…


The Virgin is combing her hair
Between curtains
Her hair is of gold
The comb of fine silver.

But look how they drink, the fish in the river.
But look how they drink, to see God born.
They drink and they drink and they drink again,
The fish in the river, to see God born.

The Virgin wears a flower
on her holy heart
which St. Joseph gave her
before the child was born.

But look how they drink…

The Virgin is walking,
She’s walking alone,
She has no other company
But the Child holding her hand.

But look how they drink…