El Mundo Returns To Houston Early Music Hispanic Heritage Series With 'Cathedrals, Monasteries & Missions'

El Mundo Returns To Houston Early Music Hispanic Heritage Series With 'Cathedrals, Monasteries & Missions'A Houston Early Music favorite, ensemble El Mundo, returns with a festive new program of 17th- and 18th-century Christmas music from Latin America. Titled "Cathedrals, Monasteries & Missions," the concert will take place Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral. This event is part of Houston Early Music's Hispanic Heritage Series.

"This concert is a grand celebration with top-tier early music artists," said Deborah Dunham, executive director of Houston Early Music. "The program not only includes a remarkable array of works from the Latin 'New World,' but is also led by guitarist Richard Savino, who never disappoints an audience."

"It's easy to get into the rhythm of this music," said Grammy-nominated countertenor Ryland Angel, appearing as a special guest of the ensemble. "Whether you're a big classical music or Baroque music fan - or not - it's music everyone can enjoy."

What makes the appeal of this music so vast, he believes, is that it incorporates rhythms and melodies from dances in style during the time, and that can still be heard in Latin-American music today.

According to El Mundo director Savino, those dances were brought into the Catholic mass and used to set Biblical stories as a way to broaden the appeal of the church's message. One result of this marriage of dance and scripture is the villancico, which has come to be known as a Latin-American Christmas carol.

On the program will be villancicos by the likes of Guatemalan composers Manuel Quiroz and Rafael Castellanos, along with at least one chacona (Spanish for chaconne), which is another musical form based on a popular dance. Savino, a Baroque guitarist who teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and California State University at Sacramento, said there may be a chacona by Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli. While not a Spanish composer, Corelli was well-liked in Latin America at the time.

There will also be works by Spanish composers José de Torres and Juan Iribarren, among others. Most of the music on the program comes from the revered archives of the Guatemala City Cathedral, but a few pieces originated in Mexico City or Puebla, Mexico.

Additional members of the Grammy-nominated group El Mundo include sopranos Nell Snaidas and Jennifer Ellis Kampani and bass Paul Shipper, who also plays percussion and Baroque guitar. Two violinists join them, Adam Lamotte, a Houston native, and Lisa Grodin, along with cellist Eugenio Solinas. Rounding out the "big band," as Savino calls it, will be harpsichordist Matthew Dirst, director of Ars Lyrica Houston.

El Mundo will present "Cathedrals, Monasteries & Missions" Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Ave., Houston, Texas 77002. A pre-concert talk will begin at 6:45 p.m.

Individual tickets are available for $40 general admission, $35 senior admission and $10 for students with valid student ID card. Children under the age of 15 receive free admission.

For more information, e-mail info@HoustonEarlyMusic.org or call 713-325-5370, X1077.


Presenting a Millennium of Masterworks
As the city's only organization solely dedicated to covering the large historical span of early music in all of its forms, Houston Early Music epitomizes a movement that has swept the world of classical music. Officially incorporated in 1968, the nonprofit presents an annual concert series of performances by major early music ensembles as well as emerging artists from around the world. A successful educational outreach program introduces a future generation to a broad range of music. Houston Early Music is funded in part by grants from the Houston Arts Alliance, the Texas Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts. HoustonEarlyMusic.org.

Photo courtesy of El Mundo

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