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David Dalle
Thursday April 17th, 2014 with David Dalle
Osvaldo Golijov's Pasion Segun San Marcos

For my annual show before Good Friday, I draw upon the incredibly rich tradition of music for and inspired by the Passion and Easter. Often the music is sombre if not outright tragic, but this year I have a spectacular piece of music bursting with vitality and energy: Argentinian-American Osvaldo Golijov's La Pasion Segun San Marcos. The four Biblical accounts of the Passion have been set to music countless times but the two settings, St. John and St. Matthew, by Bach are two peerless summits of Western culture and they continue to influence any attempts to compose music based on the Passion. In this case, directly due to a commission in 2000--the 250th anniversary of Bach's death--from the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart to compose a Passion. They commissioned 4 Passions, one for each Gospel from celebrated composers Sofia Gubaidulina, Tan Dun, Wolfgang Rihm, and Golijov. Interestingly, Osvaldo Golijov is Jewish so the Passion and the Gospels were not part of his background, he read the Gospel of St. Mark for the first time after receiving the commission. Golijov wanted his Passion to be from a Latin perspective, located culturally in Brazil or Cuba, two of the most important centres of Latin music. He wanted it to be a re-enactment on a street in a Brazilian or Cuban village. And very importantly, he focused on the strong African strains in both Brazilian and Cuban culture. In Golijov's words: "There is a strong tradition that news or stories are told by voices and drums in Cuba and Brazil. This tradition comes from Africa, you know, and that's how this Passion is being told... this Passion is about enactment and ritual. It is a synthesis of Latin American traditions, Catholicism and the Yoruba religion brought by African slaves." "The piece is driven by percussion instruments and specific rhythms. In some parts things go completely crazy, like the rhumba with the spoons. Still, every section has a center of gravity symbolized by a percussion instruments or a group of percussion instruments." Specific roles in the Passion are not given to specific voices, for example the voice of Jesus is heard intermittently from both female and male vocalists, and the choirs. There are three Afro-Cuban vocalists, two South American vocalists and a classical Soprano. Golijov throws in a bit of Flamenco and Nuevo Tango. Most of the text is from the St. Mark Gospel, but he inserts a couple of poems medieval and 19th century. The result is an explosive, vibrant, colourful, and dramatic work. Sometimes Joyful, though a creeping anxiety appears towards the end and the piece ends with an exquisite Kadish--from Jewish burial rituals--sung in Aramaic, both mournful and transcendent. This is a great masterpiece for the 21st century. If interested, here's a link to a pdf of the libretto:
La Pasion Segun San Marcos
Osvaldo Golijov/Biella Da Costa, Jessica Rivera, Reynaldo Gonzalez-Fernandez, Gioconda Cabrera, Manolo Mairena, Alex Alvear, Schola Cantorum de Venezuela, Orquesta La Pasion, Members of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, Maria Guinand - La Pasion Segun San Marcos - Deutsche Grammophon
Giovanni Gabrieli/Canadian Brass with members of the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra, Elmer Iseler - Gabrieli For Brass - Philips
Melodia del rio
Ibrahim Ferrer - Mi Sueno - World Circuit/Nonesuch
Not Yet
Romeo Scaccia & Kocani Orkestar - Romeo Scaccia Meets Kocani Orkestar - Morgenland
Il Bombarolo
Romeo Scaccia & Kocani Orkestar - Romeo Scaccia Meets Kocani Orkestar - Morgenland
Interactive CKCU
David Dalle (host)
The ending of this work is magnificent!

3:31 PM, April 17th, 2014
Really enjoying the show today David. "Passionate", and interestingly different. Happy Easter to all, or whatever you celebrate at the dawn of Spring.

3:44 PM, April 17th, 2014
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