Continuing in the series of Cuban recorded Ansonica Records projects comes CORO DEL MUNDO – choir of the world. With tracks ranging from sacred to secular, and from delicate to aggressive, the surprising cohesiveness of the composers’ work is astonishingly beautiful and impassioned. Schola Cantorum Coralina and Vocal Luna contribute exquisite vocals to the proceedings.
L Peter Deutsch’s Dance to the Revolution, takes inspiration from the writing of Emma Goldman. Goldman was one of the seminal writers and activists in the development of early-20th-century anarchist thought. The composer explains, “what drew me to her writing was her inclusion of interpersonal relationships, not only political or economic ones, in the vision of ideal society.”
Deutch’s Where Everything is Music transports the listener to Havana. Deutsch notes: “The lyrics for "Where Everything is Music" are excerpted from a poem by Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet and mystic, in the classic and well-loved translation by Coleman Barks. As with much of Rumi's writing, the text asks us to recognize the greater reality of the spiritual compared with the physical world. I intend this piece, like some of my other work for voice and a single instrument, to be more of a dialogue between the chorus and the instrument than for "accompanied chorus."
Schola Cantorum Coralina is featured on Canto del Bongó, Qué Rico É, and Gozando En La Habana. Conrado Monier’s Gozando En La Habana received mention in the Choral Music Contest sponsored by the Cuban Agency of Musical Copyright (ACDAM) and the Cuban Music Institute. Monier’s second composition on CORO DEL MUNDO, Gozando En La Habana (Enjoying Havana), is an a capella tour de force effortlessly conjuring up the sights and sounds of the City of Columns.
Cuban composer and conductor Guido López-Gavilán’s Qué Rico É! is a shimmering choral mambo that leaves the listener breathless with the incomparable speed and precision of Schola Cantorum Coralina.
Vocal Luna’s contribution to CORO DEL MUNDO is profound. On Cemento Ladrillo Y Arena, Murmullo, and Silencio their voices range from brassy brilliance to delicate, angelic whispers. Nowhere is this more apparent than their performance of Cynthia Folio’s four-part piece At the Edge of Great Quiet. The emotion they bring to each movement sits right at the surface of this elegiac composition.
J.A. Kawarsky’s Sacred Rights, Sacred Song also shines with Vocal Luna’s participation. Sacred Rights, Sacred Song, a multi-movement piece, envisions Israel as a healthy Jewish democracy in which the spiritual civil rights of all Jews are protected; Judaism is expressed and celebrated freely and equally by men and women and in its myriad forms of observance; and matters of personal status and spirit are governed by a public Jewish Law that welcomes vibrancy and creativity.
Michael Murray’s El Lunar (The Mole), based on a poem by Juan Clemente Zenea, depicts the adoration of a beautiful woman. Caminando (Walking), based Nicolás Guillén’s poem focuses on the extreme poverty and scarcity faced by many Cubans in the 1930’s. The extraordinary desperation and bleakness Guillén depicts is emphasized by the implication of cannibalism toward the end of the piece. Both of Murray’s pieces are lush with solemn, hypnotic tone.
Meira Warshauer’s We Are Dreamers is an adaptation of the Jewish psalm Shir Hamalot (A Song of Ascents). In ancient times, the Shir Hamalot was sung as Jews walked into Jerusalem for festival holidays. Today it is most commonly chanted as part of the Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals) on Shabbat. Schola Cantorum Coralina takes this ancient psalm and, with Warshauer’s expansive, dreamlike arrangement, creates a wonderous, at times trance-like atmosphere.
With its blend of religious and cultural influences, CORO DEL MUNDO is proof that different faiths and beliefs can sit together comfortably at the same musical table.