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)
TV Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
- 2 Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 5 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Jurassic World trailer: Chris Pratt stars in full-length trailer with Bryce Dallas and Ty Simpkins
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
Zoella: YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg's debut novel set to become overnight bestseller
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs
Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services