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The Bolivian Baroque with Florilegium

This week we experience music from 18th-century Bolivian missions, plus we’ll review a new release of lute songs by Charles Daniels and Nigel North.

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The English ensemble Florilegium has released , in the past several years, two albums of music from the 18th century Jesuit Missions of Bolivia.  With guidance from musicologist Piotr Nawrot, the collaboration has produced a special recording which featured a quartet of native Bolivian singers chosen specifically for the project.  Drawing on music from the country’s two most important collections, the programs consists of composers both known and anonymous who wrote primarily for the church.

Volume one of Florilegium’s recordings features music from the missions of Chiquitos and Moxos Indians.

Among the anonymous composers found in existing Bolivian archives, the well-known name of Domenico Zipoli pops up.  He was one of a number of European musicians to have been recruited by the Jesuits in order to work for them in the New World.  In this case, Zipoli was sent to Argentina, yet copies of his music are found in archives throughout South America.  Volume one Florilegium’s series contains a motet of Zipoli’s, as well as an improvisation by Henry Villca Suntura, for sikus, string bass and guitar.

For the second installment of music from 18th century Bolivia, Florigium’s director Ashley Solomon put together a 14-voice choir of native Bolivians selected through audition.  The result was the founding of a new choir—the Arakaendar Bolivia.  This time the repertoire not only came from the missions but from La Plata (modern-day Sucre). Like volume one, the second recording was also a success.

The new release of the week features a recital of English lute songs on the ATMA label.  Tenor Charles Daniels and lutenist Nigel North perform a varied selection of music from the end of the 16th century.

Here’s a video of Florilegium performing an arrangement of a traditional Bolivian tune:


Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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