DIANA SAEZ

Crossing South of the Border: Expanding our Choral Repertoire

Our jobs as choral conductors and music educators is more relevant now than ever. In times when cultural walls are being built around us we must do our best to help tear them down with love and understanding. When presenting music from other cultures to our singers, we have a responsibility to avoid stereotyping. To avoid stereotyping, conductors need to acquire a deeper understanding of the music beyond the musical notation. It is important to understand the circumstances in which it was created, for whom it was created and for what purpose.

Just like the birds, music migrates from place to place picking up elements from different continents and cultures. This session is for choral conductors who want to cross borders and expand their repertoire. Participants will learn about the interconnectedness between music from a Latin American point of view. How do we define Latin American music? How can we move beyond the Spanish – English binary view of the U.S.A.’s relationship to Latin America? How is it that a chant created in Cuba is performed in Yoruba, a language from Nigeria?

To better understand the diversity and complexity of Latin American music we will explore the concept of ‘tranculturation’, a term proposed by Fernando Ortiz, a Cuban ethnologist, in 1947 to describe the process of converging cultures. Transculturation “refers to the encounter between or among cultures in which each culture acquires or adapts elements of the other(s) or in which new cultural elements are created.”

In addition to learning about the history of music participants will get a chance to sight read music from different styles, composers and historical periods. Conductors will come out encouraged to build new bridges of understanding between imposed borders.