City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Latin American Vespers Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 24 August 2010

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Greyfriars Kirk
Ex Cathedra Consort and Baroque Ensemble
Running time: 
Vespers music from North, Central and Southern America.
Jeffrey Skidmore (conductor)

Columbus discovered the New World in 1492 and with it the prospect of new musical traditions. Jeffrey Skidmore has spent ten years researching and travelling the Americas to discover its rich musical tradition. This goes back to the music that was sent from Europe, to the music written by settlers from Europe and from those born there.

Ex Cathedra Consort and Barque Ensemble gave what was planned to be an uninterrupted concert, although twice we had to break in for applause, that followed the structure of a Catholic Vespers, with a hymn, versicle and response, two psalm settings and a Magnificat. In between the liturgical work was popular but entirely appropriate music.

Particularly notable was the hymn Hanac pachap which is widely performed in Latin America. It goes back to 1631 from a manual for priests written in Quechua and Spanish with references to Christian and Inca traditions. We heard three of the twenty verses. So too was the Capac externo Dios, a version of the Apostles’ Creed translated into Quechua and comes from a book of religious lyrics of 1598.

Alonso Lôbo’s setting of Versa est in luctum had been performed at the funeral in 1598 of Phillip II, known as the Catholic King of Spain. From the first significant Creole composer, Francisco López Capillas, came the the psalm Laudate Dominum, the Cui luna, and a lovely setting of the Magnificat.

Ex Cathedra, Birmingham based, was founded by Jeffrey Skidmore in 1969 and has over the years grown into many parts. This was their first visit to the Edinburgh International Festival. There were five women and five men in the Consort and in one way or another they all had solo parts, and really good they were. The Ensemble was placed between them, and played with enthusiasm their five instruments - organ, theorbo, harp, bajon and percussion.

It was as if I had attended an evening service in a Latin American cathedral - not understanding the words being sung, but realising and appreciating that it was immensely devotional.

Event: Monday 23 August 5.45 pm