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Salon Series: Collegiate Chorale

Americas Society

February 19, 2013


(Image: Festival de Saint-Denis – Sébastien Chambert)

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In an interesting pairing of contemporary choral compositions by Osvaldo Golijov and Philip Glass, the Collegiate Chorale turns its attention towards Latin America with the New York premieres of Oceana and Symphony No. 7 "Toltec."

Music of the Americas welcomes Collegiate Chorale’s Music Director James Bagwell, vocalist Biella Da Costa and members of the Chorale for a discussion of their upcoming program featuring music by Osvaldo Golijov and Philip Glass. During the evening, Bagwell will lead the audience through the creation of this program of pieces with strong ties to Latin American art and traditions. Da Costa and the Chorale singers will illustrate the conversation with excerpts from Golijov’s Oceana.

Composed in 2004, Symphony No. 7 – A Toltec Symphony is a personal homage by Philip Glass to the ancient traditions and beliefs of the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica. Although often cited for their accomplishments in mathematics, calendar making, building, and architecture, the Toltec's personal spiritual development concerned Glass the most. "The Toltecs emphasized the relationship with the forces of the natural world (the sun, earth, water, fire, and wind) in developing their own wisdom traditions," he said. In his symphony, Glass portrays this spirituality with driving rhythms and varying textures in the orchestra and chorus.

Commissioned by the Oregon Bach Festival in 1996, Golijov wrote Oceana in the spirit of a Bach cantata, but in a Latin American musical style featuring a jazz/pop vocalist, percussion, and guitars. Set to the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Oceana  is the "transmutation of passion into geometry," according to Golijovs, In Oceana, "water and longing, light and hope, the immensity of South America's nature and pain, are...transmuted into pure musical symbols, which nevertheless should be more liquid than the sea and deeper than the yearning that they represent."

(For more information on the concert, please visit

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