Canciones Para Los Angeles

November 19, 1994, 08:00 PM
Paul Salamunovich, Conductor
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
TITLE COMPOSER/ ARRANGER GUEST ARTISTS
Ave Maria (Gregorian Chant) Traditional plainchant
Ave Maria Tomás Luis de Victoria
Plegaria a la Virgen (Prayer to the Virgin) Don Hernando Franco
Monstra Te Esse Matrem (Show Yourself a Mother) Fructos del Castillo
Oh, Señora! (O Blessed Lady) Don Hernando Franco
Bendita Sabedoria (Blessed Wisdom) Heitor Villa-Lobos
Brazilian Psalm Jean Berger
Sancta Maria (Holy Mary) Enrique Gonzalez Medina
Miedo (I'm Afraid) Carlos Guastavino
En los Surcos del Amor (In the Furrows of Love) Carlos Guastavino
Se Equivocó la Paloma (The Dove was Wrong) Carlos Guastavino
Candombe Elifio E. Rosáenz
Minué Cantado (Minute in Song) Joaquin Nin
Desenganmonos Ya (Ill-requited Love) Joaquin Nin
Corazon Que en Prisión (The Captive Heart) Joaquin Nin
El Jilguerito con Pico de Oro (The Linnet with the Golden Beak) Joaquin Nin
Yo Paso las Noches (I Spend Sleepless Nights Because of You) Ramón Noble
Romance de Román Castillo (Romance of Román Castillo) Ramón Noble
El Jarabe Tapatío (Mexican Hat Dance) Ramón Noble
Las Mañanitas (The Little Dawn) Ramón Noble
Cantaremos (We Will Sing) Ramón Noble
El Chiquilín de Bachín (The Street Urchin) Ástor Piazzolla
Helène Quintana , Mezzo-Soprano
Cantares Argentinos Boris 'Lalo' Schifrin

PROGRAM NOTES
Canciones Para Los Angeles
by Richard H. Trame, S.J., Ph.D.

The prayer Ave Maria has found itself clothed with several Gregorian Chant melodies, some of which reach back to the beginning of the 11th century. The Gregorian Chant melody most commonly associated with the text demonstrates how the greatest Renaissance Spanish composer, Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), utilized it in his own immortal setting.
 
Spain's musical influence may clearly be noted in the choral music of the earliest composer of polyphony in the Western Hemisphere, Fernando Franco (d. 1585). His Plegaria a Ia Virgen and iOh Señora! appeared originally in the Indian language Nahuatl, illustrative of the missionaries efforts to integrate Christian and Indian culture among their converts. Franco utilized the sophisticated popular Spanish song-form the Villancico, current in 16th century Spain.
 
Our only biographical data on Frucros del Castillo is that he was a contemporary of Franco. His only surviving work, Monstra te esse Matrem {Show yourself a Mother), was found in one of the 18 choir books of polyphony at Puebla Cathedral. The motet sets the fourth verse of the Ave Maris Stella, the lengthy antiphon to the Magnificat for second vespers on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The poem and its Gregorian Chant melody dares from perhaps the 9th century.
 
Ardent Brazilian nationalist and one of the 20th century's most original composers, Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) composed his last a cappella work Bendita Sabedoria (Blessed Wisdom) in 1958 for the New York University College Chorus. In these six Latin chorales of sparse, ritualistic and static music on selected texts of Biblical wisdom, Villa-Lobos has been described as "finally confronting God." In summary, the texts assert: "Blessed is the man who in strength speaks forth wisdom. He possesses a blessed and divine gift, greater than silver and gold."
 
Born in Hamm, Germany, the son of Orthodox Jews, Jean Berger (b. 1909) was raised in Alsace Lorraine. He studied at the Universities of Heidelberg and Vienna receiving from the former a doctorate in musicology in 1931. After the outbreak of World War II, he was associated with the Conservatorio Brasileiro in Rio de Janeiro. In 1941, he moved to New York, became an American citizen and subsequently taught in several American colleges and universities. He describes his choral work as being "unflinchingly tonal," manifesting a pragmatic blend of Franco-German folk music with Brazilian melody, rhythm and polyphonic modality. Berger's 1941 setting of a poem by Jorge de Lima entitled Brazilian Psalm has entered the standard American choral repertoire. Using words from the 150th Psalm, the poet bestows praises on the Lord and his mother through the hands of Abel with fair processions and litanies. The text speaks of trumpets, psaltery, harp, timbrel and dance though the composer has confined himself to an a cappella setting.
 
Familiar to many Angelenos through his excellent Concierto Latinoamericano on KUSC, the contemporary native Mexican composer Enrique Gonzalez Medina (b. 1954), after studying with teachers of high repute in prestigious Mexican and American universities, has composed a number of well-received symphonic and vocal compositions. Of his Sancta Maria, he states: "Written in 1989, this motet is a musical offering to a living saint, Mother Theresa, and dedicated to her Misioneras de Ia Caridad (Missionaries of Charity) in Tijuana. The text for this motet came to my attention as I was studying the motets of a favorite composer of mine, Tomas Luis de Victoria." The text is the antiphon to the Magnificat of first vespers on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is invoked as the help of all in need without regard to their state in life or their temporal or spiritual condition.
 
Carlos Guastavino {1914-1992) graduated from the National School of Music in Buenos Aires. As a composer-pianist, he became familiar with Europe and the Americas while touring with his own compositions. His songs reflect the melodies and rhythms of the pampas with the simple beauty and melancholic mood of the Gauchos, the Argentinean cowboy. The lyrics for Miedo (I'm Afraid) were written by Gabriela Mistral, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
 
Having also completed his music degree at the National School of Music, Elifio Rosaenz (b. 1916) moved to the Argentinean city of Mendoza in 1942. He eventually joined the music faculty at the University of Cuyo where he composed many choral works for his student choirs. His El Hacedor y La Niña for women's voices, introduced to the United States in 1985, was heard at the Los Angeles Master Chorale's iViva La Musica! concert in November of 1992. Candombe, for mixed chorus, is a vocalized rhythmic dance developed by descendants of African slaves that came to the Rio de Ia Plata region in the early 19th century.
 
Joaquin Nin y Castellanos (1879-1949) in his infancy was whisked from his native Havana to Spain. He studied piano and composition in Barcelona and later in Paris with Vincent D'lndy and others. He championed Bach's keyboard music and the works of early Spanish composers including editing the compositions of the great Baroque priest-composer Padre Soler. The Four Spanish Songs are derived from his Seven Lyric Old Spanish Songs of 1926 for voice and piano. They were arranged for mixed chorus and piano by the precociously talented German-born American composer Lukas Foss when he was barely 20 years old.
 
A member of the lnstituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Ramon Noble has achieved distinction for his lifelong work in the choral traditions of Mexico. This esteem rests on his original compositions as well as his choral arrangements of Mexican folk music. The evening's sampling of his art includes Yo Paso Las Noches, depicting the sleepless tossings of the love-sick. Romance de Roman Castillo expresses revulsion for the unloved Roman. El Jarabe Tapatio presents a traditional Mexican song-dance with words derived from a song of South Spain, Jalisco, and Michoacán. Las Mañanitas shows King David greeting the morning in song, while the dance Cantaremos is a sung with its joyous expression of love.
 
In the early part of this century the tango became and continued to be very popular in Argentina. Trained in Buenos Aires as a composer, pianist, and accordionist, Astor Piazzola (1921-1992) became fascinated with this dance form. It strongly influenced the rhythmic pattern and melodic lines of his popular and classical works. The forlorn poem El Chiquilín de Bachín (The Street Urchin) of Horacio Ferrer demonstrates Piazzola's transformation of the tango into a lyric choral piece.
 
PROGRAM NOTES
Cantares Argentinos
by Lalo Schifrin
 
These are the voices of the pampas, the rivers, the mountains and the cities of Argentina. These are the songs of old traditions, five different aspects of a collective memory. These are the rhythms of legends and myths trying to defy the relentless pulse of history.
 
Angeles Son is the equivalent of a song of Halloween, from Corrientes {northeast) near the Brazilian and Paraguayan borders. Every 1st of November the children visit the neighboring huts asking for candies or flowers. If no present is given they show their disspleasure by saying: "Tukurú, Turkurú ...”
 
El Inca De Tucumán is based on a true story about an impostor from the 17th century, Pedro Bohorquez. He was born and raised in Tucumán (Argentinean northwest and part of the ancient Inca empire). A man of courage and great imagination, he decided to travel to Peru where his claims of being a descendant of the Inca Emperor and of being the lord of the richest land full of jewels, gold and silver were believed. He convinced the church, the Spanish dignitaries, the military and the Viceroy. Even the Indians made him their leader and called him "The Inca." Finally the authorities discovered his fraud and, after a short imprisonment, he was condemned to death.
 
There is a great tradition of "Gaucho" literature in Argentina, such as the epic poem Martin Fierro by Jose Hernandez. However, El Gaucho Cubillos is an anonymous poem carved on Cubillo's tombstone. The authenticity and simplicity of these words compensate for the lack of the usual philosophical thoughts and "wisdom" commonly attributed to the Gauchos.
 
Ofertorio Galante based on words by Evaristo Carriego, the poet of Buenos Aires, is a sensual tango that sings about the passions of seduction and love. Unlike other ceremonies which tend to freeze time, this languid ritual only succeeds in embracing a burning fraction of eternity.
 
Vidalita de Carnaval, the last movement is a celebration of Carnaval (Mardi Gras) in the Northwest. A vertiginous dance, a cyclical escape from everyday life, a recurrent hope that does not want to vanish when the sun sets. Everyone knows that the joy of life will last as long as everyone keeps singing.

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