Ex Cathedra/Skidmore, St John's, Smith Square, London
When world music met the baroque
Friday 24 May 2002
Under the artistic direction of the open-eared Kate Bolton, this year's Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music is spreading its net wider than ever with an exploration not only of the give-and-take between vernacular and cultivated traditions in the Baroque itself, but the manifold ways European music interacted with the native traditions of the Americas, Russia, Africa and the East in the 17th and 18th centuries. Real World Music, one might call it, with effects upon the musical traditions of those continents that have more or less continued down to our own time.
The opening concert focused upon the musical consequences of the Spanish conquest of the Americas – a field generating much scholarly excitement at present as more and more riches are brought to light in such hitherto neglected areas as Bolivia – and encapsulated in a beautifully balanced sequence of items delivered with fervour and finesse by 10 voices and 10 period players of the Birmingham-based consort Ex Cathedra under their longstanding founder-director, Jeffrey Skidmore.
Framed in a processional from 1631 setting Quechua words – the language of the Incas – to solemn, pavane-like polyphony, the programme centred on two masses. The first, Missa Ego flos campi, by the Spanish-born but Mexico-based Juan Gutierrez de Padilla (1590-1664), already inflected Gabrieli-like antiphonal exchanges with incipiently Latin American cross-rhythms.
The second was Missa San Ignacio by Domenico Zipoli (1668-1726), who left Tuscany to work in Paraguay – an enchanting "beginner's guide to Baroque music" as Skidmore describes it, in which each line of the text becomes a miniature chorus, aria, or fugue, interspersed with bright little instrumental ritornelli, and establishing the basics of a style that evidently continued to evolve in South America throughout the 18th century.
Between the mass sections we heard such items of Old World polyphony as the wonderful "Versa est in luctum", composed for the funeral of Philip II of Spain by Alonso Lobo (c1555-1617), a seamless span of curvilinear counterpoint that drew the most intense singing of the evening. But we also heard such delights as the Christmas song "Los conflades de la estleya" (We, the brothers of the Star) by the Peruvian-raised Juan de Araujo (1648-1712), an Iberian folkdance, inflected by African slave-rhythms and on the very point of turning into a rumba.
To 28 June (020 7222 1061)
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
The Gamechangers trailer: Daniel Radcliffe stars in GTA movie
Star Wars: New action dolls launched on Force Friday ahead of The Force Awakens release
Joan Aiken: Today's Google Doodle celebrates life of British fantasy novelist
Photographer captures the beauty and intensity of his girlfriend giving birth at home
Everything extra JK Rowling has revealed about Harry Potter
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees