Francesca Ancarola and band

Francesca Ancarola and band. (Image via Americas Society video)

Music of the Americas: Cantoras

En Casa is back with a week of music selected by Ecuadoran singer Mariela Condo.

Getting to know singer and composer Mariela Condo was one of the great discoveries of the pandemic for Music of the Americas. She opened our first curated week, selected by her compatriot Fabiola Pazmiño a year ago, and returned to our series in November in a five-song set recorded at the Sala Demetrio Aguilera Malta in Quito with a band led by guitarist Willan Farinango.

Now, we asked Condo to pick five Latin American female singers for En Casa, and she delivered an extraordinary, multigenerational selection of musicians from Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.

Recuerdos takes a break this week.

Cecilia Todd

Monday, August 30, 10 a.m.

Born in Caracas, legendary Venezuelan singer and cuatro player Cecilia Todd made her debut in 1970 as a member of the group Música Experimental Venezolana. She is a leading figure in Latin American and Venezuelan popular and folk singing thanks to a dozen solo albums and countless collaborations, and collaborative albums, concerts, and conscientious study of the folk music of Venezuela and other nations.

In 1972 she was invited to participate in a Latin American music meeting organized by Carleton University in Ottawa, which resulted in several concerts in Canada. Todd lived in Buenos Aires from 1973 to 1976, where she studied voice and participated in the city's musical scene, including her 1974 debut album Pajarillo verde, which included Cacho Tirao, Domingo Cura, and Horacio Corral, and was listed as one of the best 100 albums of the century by Clarín in 1999. Todd returned to Caracas in 1976 and has toured the world with artists including Joan Manuel Serrat, Chico Buarque, Astor Piazzolla, Zimbo Trio, Silvio Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés, Mercedes Sosa, and Carlos Cruz-Diez, among others. She continues her work in Venezuela and in Argentina, where she is considered a local artist.

From the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Armando Reverón, she sent us this version of the evocative polo "Cuando la mar, la mar," by Henry Martínez, alongside mandolin player Edwin Arellano.

Paula Morelenbaum

Tuesday, August 31, 10 a.m.

Paula Morelenbaum started her career with Tom Jobim's Nova Banda and, after its dissolution, she continued exploring the classical repertoire of Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes and other masters of Bossa Nova to critical acclaim. In 2001 she released Casa, the debut album of the Morelenbaum2/Sakamoto trio, featuring Paula and Jaques Morelenbaum alongside prominent Japanese composer/pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto, which was followed by Live in Tokyo and A Day in New York. Morelenbaum has released several solo albums, including Berimbaum (2004), a tribute to Vinícius de Moraes and Telecoteco (2009), featuring Brazilian songs from the 1940s and 1950s. This album was nominated for the Brazilian Music Award 2009 and also for a Latin Grammy. In 2010, Morelenbaum released Bossarenova with arranger, pianist, and producer Ralf Schmid, and the SWR Big Band. In 2011 she has released Paula Donato – Agua, featuring the meeting of the composer’s unmistakable piano with her vocals. In 2013, she released in Europe a new album Samba Prelúdio, with pianist Ralf Schmid and trumpeter Joo Kraus, which whom founded the Bossarenova Trio. In 2016, Paula released the album Paula e Jaques Morelenbaum Live in Italia Ommagio a Jobim, featuring CelloSam3aTrio.

Her latest release is Atlantico (2019), with Ralf Schmid and Joo Kraus, percussionists Amoy Ribas and Marcio Tubino, and bassist Guto Wirtti. In this album, she sings music by Brazilian composers Jobim, Edu Lobo, Ivan Lins, João Donato, Marcos Valle, as well as a classic of French music, "Que reste-t-il," by Charles Trenet. Morelenbaum has also participated in albums by other artists, such as Ivan Lins, Caetano Veloso, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Goro Ito, and Nick Nightfly, among others.

From home in Rio, Morelenbaum sent us a trio version of Caetano Veloso's "Menino do Rio," and said about her selection:

"Although it is not a new song, I had never recorded it, and only very recently I sang it in one of my 'Lives.' It is an emblematic song, and very representative of Brazil, especially Rio de Janeiro, the city where I was born and where I live. Caetano Veloso is a composer of great importance in Brazilian culture in infinite aspects. this version has a chamber music frame, with two extremely important musicians from the Brazilian and international scene: Jaques Morelenbaum on cello and Gabriel Improta on acoustic guitar."

Nadia Larcher

Wednesday, September 1, 10 a.m.

Nadia Larcher was born in Andalgalá, in the Valles Calchaquíes, a center of cultural tradition in northwestern Argentina. Her first musical memories, even before listening to recorded music, was through the popular musicians who would come to town singing and playing their ancestral art. Larcher became interested in these musical-poetic traditions and has devoted time to their study as well as performance. In 2011, she interviewed several traditional practitioners of the region for the moving documentary El país de la vidala.

From Buenos Aires, where she lives since 2017 and with Christine Brebes on violin and Juan Pablo Di Leone on keyboards, percussion, and voice, Larcher sent us this contemporary take on two classic folk songs, "Margarita y azucena" and "Banderita colorada."


Thursday, September 2, 10 a.m.

Iguazú is an Ecuadoran-French duet started by María Tejada and Donald Régnier in 2000. They explore Latin American folk music from a contemporary perspective and create fusions with other rhythms and styles such as jazz, French song, and fado. The duo has an extensive repertoire sung in four languages—Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English—including new versions of traditional songs.

Iguazú has performed in Europe and Latin America and has received several prizes and recognitions, including the International Competition for Duets "Voice Guitar" in Germany in 2006, the Luis Valencia Prize for the best album production of Ecuadoran popular music, and a recognition from the Ecuadoran Congress in 2019. Tejada and Regnier have produced eleven albums together (three under the Iguazú name) as well as several other collaborations and live recordings.

From Ancy sur Moselle in the north of France, where she is currently living, she sent us the duo's personal take on the Ecuadoran classic "Tus ojeras," popularized decades ago by the Dúo Benítez-Valencia.

Francesca Ancarola

Friday, September 3, 10 a.m.

Chilean singer Francesca Ancarola has released eleven albums, the latest of which, Al sur del jazz, appeared in 2021. Notable past releases include Pasaje de ida y vuelta and Lonquén: Tributo a Víctor Jara, which received the Premio Altazor in Chile in 2011 and 2007. She has collaborated onstage and in recordings with artists including Carlos “Negro” Aguirre, Ensamble Quintessence, Pedro Aznar, Hugo Fattoruso, Léa Freire, Popi Spatocco, Stu Mindemann, Yamandú Costa, Horacio Burgos, and Antonio Restucci, among others.

Ancarola sent us this version of her song "Doña María," which she wrote while studying at Manhattan School of Music in New York. The lyrics are inspired by Carlos Castañeda's classic Las Enseñanzas de Don Juan, and is dedicated to her daughters. Rhythmically, it resembles a Chilean cueca, fused with jazz structures and sensibility. This version includes drummer Carlos Cortes, guitarists Federico Dannemann and Raimundo Santander, and was recorded in the beautiful Teatro del Lago in Frutillar a few months ago.


The MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas concert series is made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsor MetLife Foundation.

The Summer 2021 Music program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the Howard Gilman Foundation.

                                         Howard Gilman Foundation