Music, Preview, Vocal music

España: Old World and New with St. Martin’s Chamber Choir

A preview by Robin McNeil

Maestro Timothy Krueger

Maestro Timothy Krueger

I really believe that they premiere performing groups in Colorado not only want us to hear good music, they also want us to learn something. Now, granted every time we go to a concert we learn something from just listening to the music. However, Dr. Timothy Krueger, conductor of the St. Martin’s Chamber Choir has designed the November concerts in a way that will be very instructive as well as absolutely beautiful. The November concerts – there will be three performances of the same program – will focus on the music of Spain, and will concentrate on the villancico. These are short compositions that, as Dr. Krueger explains below in his notes, strongly resemble secular motets (perhaps madrigals, as well?). Years ago, I heard some of these villancicos performed at the University of Illinois, and they are absolutely beautiful.

Below is the press release that I received from St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, and it contains all the works being performed. This is a program you will not want to miss.

España: Old World and New

St. Martin's Chamber Choir

St. Martin’s Chamber Choir

“Francisco Guerrero and Juan Vasquez were almost exact contemporaries of Palestrina, so these villancicos are works of the “High” Renaissance, resembling motets, but in Spanish and having (mostly) secular texts.  The Ensalada of Flecha (“La Bomba”) is slightly earlier, and is a text-heavy variant of the villancico (this one about a shipwreck, rescue, and thanksgiving after the rescue), but placed here because it provides the link across the Atlantic, as Pedro Bermudez, a Spaniard who went to the New World to become the choirmaster of the Guatemalan Cathedral, wrote a Parody Mass based on Flecha’s Ensalada that was found in the Guatemalan archives.  The next few works are villancicos of the New World (Mexico, Peru, and Guatemala – one of them by a woman [Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz]), but dating from a century or two after the flourishing of the villancico in the Old World.  We make our trip back to Spain with the “Villancico de negros de Navidad” by Gabriel Garcia de Mendoza.  This is, literally, “Christmas Villancico of the Negros [slaves]” … yet written by a Spaniard – clearly evoking a style that was redolent of African slaves in the New World (antecedents of the Negro Spiritual? Possibly).  That an old-world composer would write a piece referring to a New World style means that the style had made its way back over the Atlantic to the Old World, finishing a sort of cross-pollination of ideas.  We conclude the concert with some very beautiful modern arrangements of a slight variation on the villancico ­tradition in the folk songs of the Spanish* Jews, who spoke a variation of Spanish called “Ladino.”  David Ludwig is a living east-coast American composer (I seem to recall he lives in Philadelphia right now), and St. Martin’s sang the Colorado premiere of these works this summer at the Rocky Ridge Music Camp in Estes Park, where Mr. Ludwig was a member of the faculty.”

Friday, November 8, 7:30 pm, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wheat Ridge
Saturday, November 9, 7:30 pm, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Denver
Sunday, November 10, 3:00 pm, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Denver

Single-concert tickets for all of St. Martin’s 2013-2014 season are available by clicking HERE or by calling us at 303-298-1970.

 *Sephardic Jews

Old World (Spanish) Antecedents

  • Three Villancicos by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599)
    • Prado verde y florido (SATB)
    • Hoy, Joseph (SATB)
    • Amor andaba triste (SSA)
  • Villancico by Juan Vasquez (c.1500-c.1560)
    • De las dos hermanas (TTBB)
  • Ensalada by Mateo Flecha (1481-1553)
    • La Bomba (SATB)

Across the Atlantic

  • Parody Mass movement based on “La Bomba”
    • Kyrie from the “Missa de bomba” (SATB) by Pedro Bermúdez (1558-1605; Guatemala)
  • Villancico by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (1590-1664; Mexico)
    • De carámbanos el día viste (SATB, with ssatbb solos)
  • Villancico by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695; Mexico)
    • Madre, la de los primores (SSAT)
  • Villancico in a Native tongue (Anonymous, 1631, Perú)
    • Hanaq pachap kusikuynin
    • Mortales que amáis (SSAT)

Back Again: New World Effects on the Old

  • Villancico de negros de Navidad by Gabriel Garcia de Mendoza (fl. 1691; Seville)
    • A siolos molenos (SSATB)

Modern Arrangement of Ladino (Jewish) Villancico-like Folk Songs

  • Four Ladino Songs arr. by David Ludwig (2012)
    • Durme, durme (SATB)
    • Ven Hermosa (SATB)
    • Camini por Altas Torres (SAATTBB, sop. solo)
    • Quando veo hija Hermosa (SATB)

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