Mantra

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Program: #11-18, Air Date: 04/25/11

Our friends at the Orlando Consort have a remarkable new project: When the Portuguese Jesuits first came to Goa in India, what was the musical merging of East and West?

NOTE: All of the music on this program is from the recording Mantra featuring the Orlando Consort. The recording is on the Keda Records label, and is CD KEDCD68.

For more information on the ensemble. you may contact:

www.orlandoconsort.com

• 1. Veni Bahara
• 2. PEDRO de ESCOBAR (c.1465-c.1535): Absolve
• 3. Tabla Talum
• 4. Heritage
• 5. Salve Raga (after the Salve Regina)
• 6. Encounter
• 7. Karam
• 8. Henna Night (after the Laudate Dominum)
• 9. FRANCISCO GUERRERO (1529-1599): Quae Est Ista
• 10. Pada
• 11. Bhangra Limo (after the Gaude Virgo)        

From the Orlando website:

Recently we performed the concert for the City of London Festival about which Ivan Hewett, the Daily Telegraph critic, commented as follows:

[I]n the wood-panelled dignity of Merchant Taylor's Hall, we were whisked into a completely different culural climate, i.e. the tropical heat of Goa in the 16th century. At that time Jesuit missionaries were doing their best to win the locals to the universal church, and it seems likely that South Indian musical idioms were allowed to colour the sacred chants and polyphonic music imported from Portugal and Spain.

No-one has the faintest idea what this 'colouring' may have sounded like, which at least has the advantage of offering a completely open field for imaginative reconstructions. That's what we were offered here, by the The Orlando Consort, a male vocal quartet specialising in pre-Baroque vocal music, alongside the percussionist Kuljit Bhamra, the sitar player Jonathan Mayer, and the singer Shahid Khan.

We heard plainchants with ecstatic vocal lines superimposed by Khan, we heard rousing Indian melodies with new Latin words attached, and – most intriguing of all – we heard elaborate four-part Iberian polyphony with Indian decorations at the ends of phrases. What was striking was how Western orderliness was more and more subverted by Indian joyousness. By the end we were all clapping and waving our hands, while singing a wedding song. I wonder if those Jesuit priests had the same problem?

This music has been featured in our Arts Council tour over the past year and all of the music featured in those concerts can be heard on this new release.

The premise for the project is the meeting between the Portuguese missionaries and the local Indian musicians in Goa in 1510.  This, unlike other colonial impositions, featured a distinctly collaborative engagement: rather than forcing the locals to listen and learn, the missionaries invited them to contribute to - and presumably also to adapt - the music that they brought with them.  Our project was very much in the same spirit, though the Orlandos were, we hope, considerably more open to understanding the ethos of Indian music and to experiment with it.

Composer Info

PEDRO de ESCOBAR (c.1465-c.1535), FRANCISCO GUERRERO (1529-1599),

CD Info

CD KEDCD68