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Latin American Baroque – From Idea to Concert!

Updated: Mar 4

On April 13th at St John the Baptist Church, Leicester, we will be offering you a superb Latin American Baroque programme, ¡AY ANDAR!, featuring music from Mexico, Peru, Argentina and more. Here our musical director, Giles Turner, shares his inspiration for this concert.



The Seed of Inspiration


The allure of Latin American music has always been magnetic, drawing musicians and enthusiasts alike into its vibrant rhythms and rich cultural tapestry.  Yet which of us links Latin America with Baroque music?  Not many I’m sure.


Say Baroque to most people, and immediately the notes of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, or Handel’s Water Music spring to mind. Yet across the Atlantic, there lies a wealth of superb music that’s almost unknown, and rarely performed. 


For me, this journey started during my time with the Yorkshire Bach Choir back in 1992, under the baton of Peter Seymour. It was there that I first encountered the captivating compositions of Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla – a 17th century Spanish-born composer who created his body of work in Mexico.



Puebla Cathedral, Mexico, where Padilla was first Cantor and Assistant Professor, and later Chapel Master.

Padilla’s work resonated deeply within me, leaving an indelible mark, and a desire to delve further. The seed remained dormant for many years, but never went away.  Now its time has arrived, and I decided to put on a concert to share this wonderful music.


Navigating Challenges and Unearthing Treasures


The idea was great, but like anyone pushing the frontiers, putting it into practice turned out to be no simple task.  The road was fraught with challenges, akin to navigating uncharted waters – sharks and all!


Knowing the composers I wanted to showcase was one thing, actually finding the music was quite another. Latin American music, especially the lesser-known gems, remains elusive within the mainstream publishing houses.  The notable publisher Mappa Mundi offered a modest selection, but the terrain is still niche.  I had to track down sources by asking people who had performed it in the past. 


Much of the music lies hidden in private collections making access a formidable challenge.  In fact, some of the music we are performing was tucked away within academic papers. 

The scarcity also inflated the costs – always a big consideration when putting on a concert! 


The tracking down these hidden gems required a great deal of painstaking research, far more than I had originally anticipated, but thankfully the programme eventually took shape.



The magnificent interior of Puebla Cathedral where Padilla's works were first performed.

Cultural Melting-Pot


Tracking down the scores was just the first step of course.   Then comes the art of the musician.  To understand and reproduce the authentic flavour and energy of this music is very far from simple. In energy and style, it is literally worlds away from the European music of that era, so simply imposing our familiar Baroque performance style onto this music would be deeply inappropriate. In fact, doing this would miss the point entirely!

 

This music is the fusion of the Spanish colonial music with that of the indigenous peoples. On the one hand, the tradition of Catholic sacred music. On the other, rich, vibrant secular dance music full of intricate and unexpected rhythms.  The result could not be further from the staid, predictable patterns of European Baroque.  This has meant approaching the whole programme from a completely different standpoint, carefully considering how to communicate the unique nature of the music to the performers.




The Concert


We are now well into rehearsals, and things are beginning to take shape beautifully.  All the meticulous research it has taken to make this concert possible was worth the effort.

I hope to see you on April 13th to experience this superb music. Giles Turner Musical Director Kingfisher Chorale

Tickets are on sale now!





Tickets available now from https://kingfisherchorale.o

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