Tag Archives: Hispanic Society of America

“Songs for Sorolla…”

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“Songs for Sorolla…”

A museum education project inspired in Joaquín Sorolla’s panels “A Vision of Spain” for the Hispanic Society of America in New York City

In Urueña, looking out on the plains of Old Castile

I was asked by the education department of the Hispanic Society of America to program a song and dance, arts education concert based on a series of panels the museum has on permanent display called “A vision of Spain“; painted by late 19th century Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923), it’s an unequaled collection of panels that showcases the different regions and peoples of Spain; a commission by Archer Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society, it stands as Sorolla’s most breathtaking (their sheer size are part of the marvel) and lasting masterpiece. In my opinion, “The Sorolla Room” is one of the most unique spaces in all of New York City.

The Sorolla Room at the
Hispanic Society of America in NYC

In my search for meaningful material for this project, during my last trip to Spain I took a side trip to a remote town in Old Castile, to the medieval town Urueña. With only 42 full time inhabitants, this place is not your average town: it has more bookstores than bars (its part of a group of towns from around the world known as “The village of books“), has at least one “farm to table” gourmet restaurant (super delicious!). But I came to Urueña not for tourism, but to visit and research at two separate foundations: Museo de la música, colección Luis Delgado; and to meet whom for many is the most well known “trobadour” as well as the foremost expert in folk music, dance, story telling and costumes from the Hispanic World: Mstro. Joaquin Díaz, and his formidable foundation and museum Fundación Joaquin Díaz.

Outside the Joaquín Díaz Foundation
in Urueña (Spain)

The musician and composer Luis Delgado and his wife, the dancer and scholar Gema Rizo very kindly picked me up and took me to my bed and breakfast The next day I made my way to the foundation, which is housed in an imposing renaissance era palace. This foundation contains Mstro. Díaz enormous collection as well as his own museum of instruments, artifacts, objects and paintings relating to music. The first office I was ushered into to meet the librarian, had a large poster of Sorolla’s “La fiesta del pan” displayed. I knew I was in the right place…

Book stacks and displays at the
Fundación Joaquín Díaz in Urueña (Spain)

I looked at folkloric songs books as well as costume books of the regions of Spain that I didn’t have too much material on (I was looking for folk songs from Navarra, the Basque country, as well as songs from remote parts of Valencia). Mstro. Díaz very kindly welcomed me and gifted me CD’s from his amazing catalog of recordings. I was ensconced in another world, looking at lithographs of costumes from Andalucía, folkloric jewelry from Salamanca, as well as the religious rites and catholic saints related to “romerías”.

A street in the town of Urueña (Spain) at nightfall

In between my research, I roamed around the deserted town, looked out into the endless sea of fields that are the plains of Castile. At night (bundled up, since they have pretty cold winters in those parts) I walked among the beautifully lit renaissance stone facades of the town.

Lithograph from a book from the
Fundación Joaquín Díaz

The next day, Luis Delgado welcomed me to his museum of musical instruments, which hailed from all over the world, lovingly curated and displayed (I got CD’s from him too! of his group “Los músicos de Urueña” all early music of Spain). I also had a chance to visit several of the specialty bookstores, among them: one dedicated to calligraphy, another to film, another to cook books.

One of many display cases at the museo de instrumentos,
colección Luis Delgado in Urueña (Spain)

My search for “Songs for Sorolla” yielded information I was seeking about the origins of songs that I programmed; Mstro. Díaz’s CD of Hispanic songs from the American Southwest, led me to directly make the connection for the concert in NYC between the Cordobés hat and the American cowboy hat; Spanish dance artist Anna de la Paz subsequently wore a Cordobés “cowboy” costume to bring to life Sorolla’s “El Encierro” (the herding), using Federico García Lorca’s song “Anda Jaleo”. At the foundation I learned about Seville’s La virgen de la Macarena, as I had programmed a song by Joaquín Turina regarding the yearly Easter procession in Seville, portrayed by Sorolla in one of the “A Vision of Spain” panels.

Detail of Joaquín Sorolla’s “El encierro” on permanent display at the Hispanic Society of America in New York City

I found more information that I could use for the teaching concert, which I performed as part of Hispanic Culture Arts on December 17, 2019 for High School students of Upper Manhattan. Among the dances and songs that were heard on that day where a “Seguidillas Manchegas: by Fernando Sor and “Con amores la mi madre” by Obradors to portray the panel “La fiesta del pan”; “Jota” by Manuel de Falla to portray the panel “Aragón”; and “Danza V” by Enrique Granados to portray the panel “La fiesta”.

Spanish dance artist Anna de la Paz,
at the Hispanic Society of America,
photo credit Maureen Termecz
Performing “A vision of Spain” arts education concert, with Anna de La Paz & Rupert Boyd at Hispanic Society of America in NYC,
photo credit Maureen Termecz

“A Granados Celebration”: Uniting artists from Spain and New York City for the Granados Centennial

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“A Granados Celebration”: Uniting artists from Spain and New York City for the Granados Centennial

In 2010 I had the pleasure of meeting thru a mutual friend the American pianist and Naxos recording artist Douglas Riva. Like myself, Douglas had cultivated a career based on the musical culture of late 19th and early 20th century Spain, and specifically so, regarding the Catalan composer Enrique (Enric) Granados (1868-1916).  I met him on the heels of the Isaac Albéniz centennial year, for which I had participated in two events: in NYC a small series of concerts entitled Albéniz the Ultimate Romantic with pianist Alexander Wu and guitarist Francisco Roldan; I had also been invited to participate in Albéniz’s The Magic Opal by my friend the pianist and musicologist Borja Mariño, I helped to  obtain a document about the libretto of this opera at New York University,  was on hand to prepare the chorus and soloist with English diction, as well as sing the small role of Olympia in the revival of this opera at the Auditorio Nacional de España in Madrid. At the time I had hopes of doing an Albéniz concert at the Hispanic Society of America, but the fates were not with me.  Knowing of the special relationship that the composer enjoyed with the founder of Hispanic Society of America, Archer Huntington, Douglas and I had our hopes to produce events for the Enrique Granados centennial year in 2016.

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Composer Enrique (Enric) Granados

In 2012 we initiated the conversation with Hispanic Society and it was met with approval.  Shortly after, the Official International Committee Commemorating the Centenary of Enrique Granados in 2016 and the 150th Anniversary of his birth in 2017 was formed with a group of scholars, professors, heads of foundations and musicians both in Spain and the United States.  The committee is in part hosted and assisted by the Foundation for Iberian Music at the City University of New York Graduate Center.  Part of the committee’s goal is to have an updated calendar of events taking place throughout the world in 2016-2017 of the music of Enrique Granados, symposiums, commemorations and publications.

Two years of planning then took place to organize the events at Hispanic Society; we agreed on a series of three concerts entitled From Barcelona with Passion, with one dedicated to song repertoire and dance, one to the historical recreation of chamber music concert that took place in 1916 with Granados himself and cellist Pau Casals at the Ritz Hotel in NYC, and a final concert showcasing the solo piano music of the composer with Douglas Riva.  The New York based Sylvan Winds also forms part of the Granados music season at Hispanic Society,  with a concert that includes a transcription of a piece by Granados, accompanied by other music related to the time period.  A symposium event and concert has also been planned for March 10 of 2016 in collaboration with the Foundation of Iberian Music, at the CUNY Graduate Center in NYC.

I was in charge of putting together the dance and vocal concert that just transpired this past December 10 of 2015. The first order of business was finding a pianist that could help me program and advise on repertoire, as well as being able to edit (he is also a composer)  “Danza de los ojos verdes” a piece for classical Spanish dance dedicated by Granados to  Antonia Mercé, La Argentina in 1916. The music transcript in Granados’ hand writing is almost unreadable…I needed a virtuoso pianist accompanist, experienced  and sensitive to singers; in him I had all those things.  Borja, like many pianist accompanists in Spain, had been listening and playing the Tonadillas and the lesser known Canciones Amatorias practically all his life.

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Pianist Borja Marino

Our title “From Barcelona with Passion” in my mind necessitated for us to have at least one interpreter from Granados’ native Catalonia.  We invited the lyric soprano Anna Belén Gómez to be part of the concert.  We agreed to divide both cycles between the two female singers.  It was agreed that we would perform 12 tonadillas al estilo antiguo, not excerpted as it is mostly done, but with all its elements, which for the most part is unknown to the general concert going public. The full cycle includes a song with a long recitation that relates a picaresque fable of Goya and an amorous escapade (“La maja de Goya”), a song for baritone called “El majo olvidado”, a duet for mezzo and soprano called “Las currutacas modestas” and the inclusion of an English Horn (for which we invited Dianne Lesser) to play the instrumental obbligato part that Granados composed in “Maja Dolorosa I”.  The program included the entire cycle of the often neglected Canciones Amatorias (difficult for both pianist and singer!) and two of the Songs for male voice by Enrique Granados, recently edited by Douglas with Editorial Boileau in Barcelona (La boira and Noche y dia Diego ronda).  I was able to enlist the help and participation of Argentinian baritone Gustavo Ahualli, fresh from bowing at the Teatro Colon of Buenos Aires, to learn these two elaborate and  difficult songs (La boira is in Catalan), which ranged somewhere between the aesthetics of Mahler, Brahms and Wagner.

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Artists of “From Barcelona with Passion: Dance and Vocal Music of Enrique Granados” in the Library of the Hispanic Society of America Museum & Library in NYC, in a pre-concert photograph on the night of the concert.

One of my favorite figures in this time period is the great Spanish dancer Antonia Mercé, La Argentina (1890-1936).  La Argentina played an important role in our story:  Archer Huntington helped make possible for the Metropolitan Opera of New York to premiere the opera “Goyescas”. The ballet of this opera, the “Intermezzo”, was intended to be interpreted by La Argentina, but there were contractual problems.  Granados as a consolation for the dancer who was already in NYC, wrote “Danza de los ojos verdes”, which was premiered with the composer in the audience in NYC in 1916.  The concert of dance and vocal works included a new reinterpretation of this piece with choreography by Gala Vivancos and interpreted by New York based Spanish dance artist Anna de la Paz.  Anna commissioned a copy of the same dress worn by La Argentina on that occasion in 1916, which was designed by the painter Ignacio Zuloaga. Both the new choreography and dress were essayed on the vocal and dance concert of December 10th at Hispanic Society.

La Argentina

Antonia Merce, “La Argentina”

One of the reasons this period in Spanish culture is interesting to me is because it is generally called “The Silver Age” of Spanish culture, and a big characteristic of the period is the collaboration and friendships of artists of all genres coming together to create new and at the time Avant garde modern pieces of art.  Granados wrote dance pieces for the dancer Tortola Valencia among others; his contributions to the genre of dance is not generally known. Many painters and visual artists of the period participated in theatrical projects that included the designing of costumes and sets, as Picasso did with Les ballets russe and Sombrero de tres picos by Falla (the backdrop of this ballet currently hangs at the New York Historical Society in Manhattan).  “Danza de los ojos verdes” was also a creation of friends, with composer, interpreter and painter/costume design…

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Collage with an Ignacio Zuloaga painting, and a photograph of Anna de la Paz and Borja Marino interpreting “Danza de los ojos verdes” at Hispanic Society of America Museum & Library in New York City

If any readers of Spanish Song Slinger are performers or musicologists, and have events that can be listed in the Granados Centennial Year of 2016-2017 calendar, please send a press release with the event to the Iberian Music Center, with email heading Granados Centennial Calendar Announcement, to:

iberianmusic@gc.cuny.edu

 

For more information on the Enrique Granados Centennial, please see: http://www.granados100.com/

 

Music in the Times of Joaquin Sorolla: Towards a New Spain (1856-1936)

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Music in the Times of Joaquin Sorolla:  Towards a New Spain (1856-1936)

Music in the Time of Joaquín Sorolla: Towards a new Spain (1856-1936)

interpreted by
Anna Tonna, mezzo soprano
Eva León, violinist
Emilio González Sanz, pianist
Francisco Fuertes, reciter

This concert of chamber music and songs by late 19th – and early 20th-century Spanish composers evokes the musical and intellectual world of the Spanish impressionist painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923).

Thursday, May 29, 2014, 7:00PM
The Hispanic Society of America
Broadway between 155th and 156th Streets
Admission Free. RSVP: friends@hispanicsociety.org/ 212- 926 22 34 Ext. 250

NEW YORK, NY, May 2, 2014 – The Hispanic Society of America presents a chamber music concert for piano, violin, mezzo-soprano and actor that showcases the little known musical culture of the so-called Spanish Silver Age, which is a musical equivalent to the world of the Spanish impressionist painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923). The concert is part of the HSA music series which this season, celebrates five centuries of music from Spain. Music in the Time of Joaquín Sorolla: Towards a new Spain (1856-1923) is the third and last concert of this season, and highlights music by Spanish composers from the late 19th century up to the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

The painter Sorolla was an integral figure of a group of Spanish progressive thinkers and educators, the so called Institucionistas, which founded a series of schools in Spain with the goal of bringing the country to the forefront of European culture towards the end of the 19th century. The role that music played in education was key to Institucionista thought; weekly afternoon musical soirees were celebrated at the Instituto Libre de Enseñanza, and were attended by Joaquín Sorolla on a regular basis.

The first half of Music in the Time of Joaquín Sorolla: Towards a new Spain (1856-1936) seeks to recreate the musical-literary character of theses gatherings, with pieces for piano and violin by Sarasate, Monasterio and songs by Gabriel Rodríguez and Rogelio Villar, all composers and persons active in the Institucionista movement in Spain. A testament to Sorolla’s involvement with this progressive movement are the paintings that are to be found in the library of the Hispanic Society of prominent figures in the Institucionista movement, such as Manuel Bartolomé Cossío, Benito Pérez Galdós and the Nobel laureate poet Juan Ramón Jiménez. The intimate ties between the founder of the Hispanic Society Archer Huntington and the Institucionistas is evidenced by letters and avid correspondence between them. The second part of the program highlights the composers that were recipients of the scholarships of the Junta de Ampliación de Estudios that the Institucionistas awarded to young Spanish scholars and artists to study abroad: María Rodrigo, Julián Bautista, Gustavo Pittaluga and Eduardo Toldrá.

The program includes several U.S. premieres, and highlights the talents of Spanish pianist Emilio González Sanz, professor of chamber music at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid, and Spanish violinist Eva León. Both are recording artists well-versed in the fields of 19th – and 20th – century Spanish music. They are joined by American mezzo-soprano Anna Tonna, a former Fulbright Scholar to Spain and a specialist in vocal music by Spanish composers as well as by award-winning actor Francisco Fuertes.

Repertoire (subject to change) includes:

Adiós a la Alhambra for violin and piano Jesús de Monasterio (1836-1903)
*Excerpts from Colección de Melodías Gabriel Rodríguez (1829-1901)
*Madrigal and Elegía de Otoño for voice and piano Rogelio Villar (1875-1937)
Aires gitanos for violin and piano Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908)
La Habanera for solo piano Ernesto Halffter (1905-1989)
*Villancico de las madres for voice and piano Julián Bautista (1901-1961)
Romance de Solita for voice and piano Gustavo Pittaluga (1876-1956)
*Ayes…Tres canciones for voice and piano María Rodrigo (1888-1967)
Sonetos for violin and piano Eduardo Toldrá (1895-1962)

*US premieres

The Hispanic Society of America

The Museum and Library of The Hispanic Society of America reflect the vision of Archer Milton Huntington to establish an institution dedicated to the celebration of Hispanic culture. Beginning in 1904, he began to construct a series of buildings on Audubon Terrace and to assemble a collection of books and works of art which are today unparalleled in scope and quality outside the Iberian Peninsula. The collection includes more than 800 paintings and 6,000 works on paper, offering a comprehensive survey of Spanish art through masterpieces by El Greco, Goya, Morales, Murillo, Ribera, Velázquez, Zuloaga, Zurbarán, Fortuny and Sorolla. The Museum’s 1,000 works of sculpture contain significant examples from the first millennium B.C. to the 20th century. There are also magnificent examples of ceramic, glass, furniture, textiles, ironwork, jewelry and photographs. The Library offers resources to scholars interested in the culture of the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America through its collection of more than 250,000 books and periodicals, which include more than 15,000 volumes printed before 1701 and approximately 200,000 manuscripts from the 12th century to the present.

The Hispanic Society Concert Series was inaugurated in 2010 as a free program to promote the music of Spanish and Hispanic composers. The Concert Series has delighted listeners with the finest recitals, chamber groups, and groundbreaking modern music ensembles. Many of the century’s greatest artists have performed in our programs. The program augments the viewing experience by providing an auditory context within which the collection can be appreciated.

This year’s Concert series is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Spain Culture New York—Consulate General of Spain.

New York Debut of Musica Ficta – Columbus: Gateway to the New World at the Hispanic Society of America on Feb. 26, 2014

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Spanish early music group “Musica Ficta” in the Sorolla Room at the Hispanic Society fo America, NYC

The auspicious New York debut of the Spanish early music group Musica Ficta took place earlier this week in the Sorolla Room of the Hispanic Society of America in New York City.  The vocal ensemble, led by conductor and founder Raúl Mallavibarrena  is on a tour on this side in the Atlantic, and essayed a concert that centered in both sacred and profane vocal works entitled Columbus:  Gateway to the New World, essaying composers such as Juan de Araujo (b. Spain 1646. d. Bolivia, 1712), Francisco Guerrero (Spain, 1528-1599) and Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco (b. Spain 1644, d. Peru 1728).  When not singing A cappella, the group was accompanied by the Spanish baroque harpist, Manuel Vilas.  The concert was presented by GEMAS:  Early Music of the Americas, this particular concert was a collaboration with the Hispanic Society of America GEMAS  is a project of Americas Society and Gotham Early Music Scene devoted to early music of the Americas with Nell Snaidas and Sebastián Zubieta as co-artistic directors. Performing in what is certainly one of New York City’s most unique rooms,  within the incomparable frame of Sorolla’s “A Vision of Spain”, the evening was a multi sensory experience.

After a brief introduction by the co curator of the Hispanic Society Margaret McQuade and music director of the Americas Society Sebastian Zubieta, Maestro Raúl Mallavibarrena took the audience on a journey of Spanish baroque repertoire that was performed in the New World, both by composers of Spanish birth and of origins in Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

The program notes that “the concert features works from American archives and codices, from Puebla, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Sucre Bolivia and Bogota  Some are written in native languages, such as Nahuatl and Quecha”.

One of the highlights of the evening was precisely the sacred settings, several anonymous and one piece by  Gaspar Fernández (b. Portugal 1570, d. Mexico 1629) in the language of Nahautl, that both intrigued and charmed the audience at Hispanic Society.  The intricate polyphonic music, which is at the heart Spanish golden age musical culture shined brightly in the nuanced and expressive singing of the vocal ensemble, which at times was lead by the well modulated soprano of Rocío de Frutos.  The call and response sequences and interplay of polyphonic vocal  music, all of the highest order, can only lead one to guess all the treasures still to be discovered and savored…the evening was filled with “Spanish gold”, indeed.

Harpist Manuel Villas sensitive accompaniment as well as his interpretation of a piece for solo baroque harp by Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz (b. Spain 1626, d. Peru?) was a wonderful vehicle to display many moments of virtuosity.

Manuel Vilas

Spanish baroque harpist Manuel Vilas in the Sorolla Room at the Hispanic Society of America, NYC

Founded in 1992, Musica Ficta has presented in Spain’s most important festivals.  No strangers to the recording studio, the group currently records with disc label Enchiriadis, and have produced intriguing projects such as Músicas Viajeras, which explores the Christian, Sephardic and Muslim musical culture of the Iberian Peninsula, El Cancionero de Turin which explores music in the times of Miguel de Cervantes of Don Quijote fame. and a disc dedicated to that master of vocal polyphonic music, Tomás Luis de Victoria entitled Tenebrae Responsories.  The capable direction of Maestro Mallavibarrena was in evidence the entire evening.  I very much appreciated how the ensemble although tight knit, gave play to hear the individual voices and personal interpretations of the artists.  In the course of the evening each one had a small shinning moment.  Mstro. Mallavibarrena is to be congratulated on his vision, scholarship and artistry, as well as his efforts to bring his Musica Ficta to New York City.   The audience at the Hispanic Society of America and myself included sincerely hope they will return soon to our shores.

Ladies of Musica Ficta

The ladies of “Musica Ficta”: AnaCris Marco, Lore Agustí, Elena Sánchez Elordí and Rocío de Frutos, in the Sorolla Room, Hispanic Society of America, NYC