Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cleveland Museum of Art: Schola Cantorum de Venezuela (Viva & Gala)(@ClevelandArt)

If it seems like many of the recent posts have revolved around the Cleveland Museum of Art it may because of how accessible -- both physically and psychologically -- the institution is--and how much there is going on at any given time . Tonight I had driven to the Museum to find Rachel in the galleries, but when I walked into the North lobby I bumped into Tom Welsh, the museum's Associate Director of Music, who had asked if I was planning on attending the concert.

"Concert? Tonight?" I asked momentarily confused and he mentioned the Schola Cantorum de Venezuela -- a Venezuelan choir. Not knowing if Rachel would be up for it I didn't commit, but when I found her hiding in "A Passion for Prints: The John Bonebrake Donation" she was also interested so we made our way back to the lobby.

I initially confused the ticket seller by asking for "two tickets" -- For what, she needed to know: The film, The lecture, The exhibition, The Choir. Confusion resolved and tickets in hand we found or way up to our seats on the balcony. My first time up there, I was interested to see how it would compare: While it offers a great vantage point, I felt a bit emotionally distant from the performers on stage.

The program assembled by the Schola Cantorum de Venezuela -- hailing from a country as known for its musical culture as anything else -- came in two parts: Aqua (Water) and Fiesta (well...Fiesta) with the Fiesta generally bolder and a bit more lively.

While I'm generally attracted to sharp contrasts, in Agua the subtle variations in texture from piece to piece and between voices within a piece were mesmerising, and the relative even keel of that half of the program created the perfect mood for some quality meditation. Cloudburst, "a ceremony, a celebration of the unleshed kinetic energy in all things" was a favorite the program with bold statements performers and the perfect vocal representation of rain (along with support from a handful of instruments). In the next piece, Binnamma, the rise and fall of voices sounded like the ebb and flow of waves. Closing out the first half, Yemaya, with soloists Paul Sojo, Javier Silva, and Victor Gonzalez, was a very light, happy, and moving choral piece and was my favorite from the first half of the program.

After intermission the show resumed with Primavera Portena from Las Cuatro Estaciones (Spring in Buenos Aires from The Four Seasons) with the program note that "the four tangos that comprise The Four Seasons are instrumental and in this program, the chior [sang] them with instrumental accompaniment." -- of course, a fiesta should start with a tango! Mule Rendeira (Lacemaker Woman) with percussion was hypnotic and rythmic. Cerezo Rosa (cha cha cha) was a lively dance, and all of the other pieces in the program were likewise lively and enjoyable. I'd be remiss to not mention Besame Muchowith the translated lyrics "Kiss me, kiss me much...", Son de la Lomay (They are from the Hill) with a good rhythm and, to borrow a lyric "con suis trovas fascinates que me las quiero aprender" [and I want to learn their fascinating rhythm].

The program ended with Nuestra Navidades (Our Christmas) including a bit of an audience sing along and concluding with a true fiesta on stage -- including a couple who had been dancing in the aisle joining the chior.


Part I: Aqua
Calcano: Evohe (Text: Planchart; Venezuela)
Castellanos: Al Mar anochecido (To the sea in twilight) (Text: Jimenez; Venezuela)
Whitacre: Cloudburst (Text: Paz; USA)
Golijov: From Oceana (Text: Neruda; Argentina)
A. Grau: Binnamma (Spain/Venezuela)
G. Grau: From Aqua (Text: Palacios; Venezuela) [Cancion de los rapidos remeros (Song of the Rowers); Yemaya

Part II: Fiesta
Piazzolla: From Las Cuatro Estaciones (The Four Seasons) (Arr. Escalada; Argentina) [Primavera Portena (Spring in Buenos Aries)]
Brazilian Folk Song: Muile Rendiera (Lacemaker Woman) (Arr. Fonseca; Brazil)
Lopez-Gavilan: Mambo que rico e (Mambo, how nice it is) (Cuba)
Ruffino: Cerezo Rosa (cha cha cha) (Arr. Alvarado; Cuba/Vinezuela)
Frometa: Toy Contento (Arr. Sauce; Venezuela)
Zapata: El Menciona'o (The Named One) (Arr. Ruiz; Venezuela)
Velazquez: Besame Mucho (Arr. A. Grau; Mexico)
Matamoros: Son de la Loma (They are From the Hill) (Arr. A. Grau; Cuba)
Galindez: La Arestinga (Arr. A. Grau; Venezuela)
Barros: Engo una forma mas (I have another way) (Arr. Raga; Cuba)
Rojas: Nuestras Navidades (Our Christmas) (Venezuela)


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