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Christmas by themes: Latin American

Dear Colleagues,

Here is a compilation of Latin American works of 10-20’ duration with a
Christmas theme, resulting from the following query of a couple of weeks ago:

Can anyone suggest Latin American Christmas works of about 10-20 minutes length
similar to Ariel Ramirez's Navidad Nuestra or Conrad Susa's Carols and
Lullabies from the Southwest? (Ben Alloway's El Regio Sendero, a wonderful
English-Spanish piece about the Three Kings, including audience participation,
though not quite 10 minutes in length, is also along these lines).

My hearty thanks to all who responded.

John Jost
Director of Choral Activities
Music Department
Bradley University
Peoria, IL 61625
FAX: 309-677-3871

Try Steven Sametz's "Los Pastores," a wonderful concert suite of
traditional Chicano melodies, for mixed choir, solo soprano, and
speakers (Oxford University Press, 2002; ISBN 0-19-386545-9).

You might want to consider Steven Sametz' Los Pastores, traditional
Chicano melodies for SSAATTBB, solo soprano, and speakers, published
by Oxford University Press. It's a tender and sometimes hilarious
medley of Chicano Christmas songs in which the shepherds at the manger
are imagined as traditional village character-types, complete with the
town drunk, who can't be roused to go see the miracle without
considerable joshing on the part of everyone else. It's a wonderful
piece, exciting in parts and ultimately quite touching.

How about Dave Brubeck's 'La Fiesta de la Posada' - a cantata
set in Mexican Folk style - about 20-25 minutes? In addition
to the mixed chorus, there are solo parts for Soprano, Tenor,
Baritone, Bass. I believe there are a couple of options in
terms of instrumentation - piano, bass, drums, percussion plus
orchestra, and a chamber version of this.

You can check with the Instituto Pro Musica da California, which has
an impressive library of Latin American works. I've sung with Coro de
Hispano before, and they've always had a Christmas "program" of about
60-70 minutes of music. They normally do a large work and then a number
of smaller works, some of which have multiple movements.

What a coincidence. Since we are programming both of these works for next
December, I would be most interested in receiving copy of the replies to
your question.

As of now, we are prepared to put the Susa and Ramirez works back to back on
the 2nd half of our program. Our first half will consist of some Latin
works and Villancicos (in Spanish) written during 16th & 17th century
Mexico. Apparently, the cathedral music tradition of Renaissance Spain
(Morales, Victoria, et al) was implanted into the major Mexican cathedrals
(especially in Puebla) and was of the highest quality. The Spanish crown
was intent upon establishing thriving religious centers very quickly and
spared little expense to do so. Composers were lured from Spain with the
enticement of salaries doubling what they could earn in Spain, and there
grew a body of works that-quite frankly-rival those of the Mother Country.
If you're interested, there is a fine CD recorded by the Westminster
Cathedral Choir on the Hyperion label called "Masterpieces of Mexican
Polyphony." Then there is an album you can still get via called
"Mexico Barroco / Puebla I" ( on the Urtext label) which consists of
Nativity Matins which are Villancicos, composed entirely by Juan Gutierrez
de Padilla, himself a master polyphonist. That album is out of print, but
internet sources like Amazon still carry it. These resemble
Renaissance-style dances and will go nicely I think with the Navidad

For a shorter piece including 2 Latin American Christmas songs ina medley,
check out "Latin American Christmas" by David Lane. Click on the following link
and scroll down.
Choral Music from
Alcove Music Publications

Bruce Trinkley’s Venezuelen Carols (3) are beautiful.

I've had a request to publish a three mvt piece called "Musica Para la Navidad"
Francisco Lopez y Capillas (colonial Mexico (a)1650), and we will probably do
mid-summer. (The duration is only 6:30 however) You may hear the whole piece on
our CD entitled California Mission Music
or hear a brief excerpt at

I thought I might just tell you that I am having Maria Guinand come and do a
Latin American Christmas with my community group. She is deciding the
repertoire and hasn't sent it yet, but it should be here soon. I don't know if
she was at the festival the year you were or not. But she is a very dynamic
and excellent clinician and conductor. I had her here at the college a few
years ago and the kids and audience really enjoyed her work. The best to you.

I received your
request for ideas of music in a Latin style. Recently the Santa Fe
Symphony and Chorus (in which I sing) performed Dave Brubeck's Fiesta
de la Posada and enjoyed it. While it is a long work,maybe 40
minutes, parts of it could be extracted. In fact I have seen one
part of it in a hymnal recently. It's in English. Despite Brubeck's
usual work it's not really in a jazz idiom. . . .It's not as good as
Navidad Nuestra, but parts of it are swell, and instruments add much
to the interest.