Texas Early Music Project | Convivencia

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World: Mediterranean Classical: Early Music Moods: Type: Acoustic
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by Texas Early Music Project

This live recording features music of the three great cultures of Renaissance Spain: Muslim, Jewish, and Christian, in swirling, sensuous rhythms and exotic scales of Arabo-Andalusian and Sephardic music and boisterous polyphony of the Spanish masters.
Genre: World: Mediterranean
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Three Prayers (Live)
2:59 $0.99
2. Cuando el Rey Nimrod (Live)
3:50 $0.99
3. La Comida de la Mañana (Live)
1:37 $0.99
4. Interlude (Live)
0:47 $0.99
5. Morikos / Las Hermanas (Live)
3:31 $0.99
6. Una Matica de Ruda (Live)
5:32 $0.99
7. Hal Tusta'adu (Live)
3:15 $0.99
8. Si Te Quitasse los Hierrors (Live)
2:15 $0.99
9. Tres Moricas M'enamoran (Live)
2:46 $0.99
10. Yo Me Soy la Morenica (Live)
3:14 $0.99
11. Si la Noche Haze Escura (Live)
3:50 $0.99
12. Corten Espadas Afiladas (Live)
2:19 $0.99
13. Lama Bada Yatathanna (Live)
3:34 $0.99
14. Una Tarde de Verano (Live)
3:39 $0.99
15. La Rosa Enflorece (Live)
4:30 $0.99
16. Ila Habibi (Live)
2:41 $0.99
17. De Antequera Sale un Moro (Live)
7:14 $0.99
18. Q'es de Ti, Desconsolado? (Live)
3:55 $0.99
19. Israel, Mira Tus Montes (Live)
2:52 $0.99
20. Una Sañosa Porfia (Live)
7:07 $0.99
21. Three Prayers (Live)
4:03 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Convivencia means coexistence, and in this live recording we explore many of the cross-cultural ties and themes that connect the three great cultures of early Spain: Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. The music we examine will focus on the intersecting issues of life among the three cultures: love, dance, food & drink, dreams, secrets, and even on the war that brought the Iberian peninsula to turmoil for all three cultures at the end of the 15th century.

The swirling, sensuous rhythms and exotic scales of Arabo-Andalusian and Sephardic music and the deeply felt, yet often humorously boisterous polyphonic works of the Spanish masters are performed by almost thirty musicians, including vocalists and instrumentalists playing replicas of period instruments.

The Austin Chronicle interviewed Danny Johnson in the latest TEMP concert of "Convivencia" in September 2015:

Austin Chronicle: How did this concept for the program come about?

Daniel Johnson: The concept came from my friend and colleague, Tom Zajac. Back in 2003, he was putting together a concert for his ensemble at the University of Maryland. I went to Maryland and did the concert with him there, then we decided to do it here in 2004, 2005, and 2010. We knew it was a perfect fit for TEMP, because we had already recorded Sephardic music and performed historical Spanish music; all we needed was the al-Andalus part of it. Since then, the program has evolved as we've continued our research to find new pieces, as well as new arrangements of old pieces.

AC: TEMP emphasizes the importance of historically informed performance practice. How does the ensemble work to honor authentic renditions of this music, particularly the Jewish and Arabic melodies from the oral tradition?

DJ: Our style is informed by listening to "folk versions" – listening to native Arabic singers performing in their style. Then we take it over and do it in our way by adding a bit of quasi-classical technique. I know we don't sound like 50-year-old Sephardic ladies singing out in the desert, but we still try to approximate the same fervor and passion. One of the big things we focus on is the period language. Language is so liquid and flexible over time. We've had a lot of help with the pronunciation from linguists and singers. The Judeo-Español has a very rich sound. There are sounds that you don't find in today's Spanish – or even 16th-century Spanish.

AC: How do you go about finding and shaping arrangements of this music when the orchestration is not provided in a score?

DJ: This process has evolved over many years. Some combinations of instruments work really well together. For example, sackbut (a type of trombone) and viola da gamba is one of the best combinations of pure sound. For this concert, there are two ensembles: a Spanish courtly orchestra and a folk ensemble for the Sephardic and Arabic music, which includes instruments like the oud (Arabic lute).

AC: What music are you most excited about on the program?

DJ: The final section of the concert is about the reconquest, the end of convivencia. The final piece, by Juan del Encina, is this simple hymnlike song that has amazingly effective harmonic and rhythmic changes. I've performed this with other groups between 25 and 30 times, and each time, performers and audiences are just stunned by it. I don't know whether I should be alarmed because it is a really grand Spanish propagandistic song written from the point of view of a Muslim ruler defeated by King Ferdinand. Musically, it is so astounding, even though the lyrics are a combination of being sort of offensive and at the same time inspirational.

AC: Given that these three cultures were living together in this period, do you find any similarities in the respective music styles?

DJ: There are strong similarities between the al-Andalus and Sephardic music, much more so than with the purely Spanish songs. This is because the Spanish songs are based on tonal composition techniques, whereas the other two use similar scales with intervals such as augmented seconds which are almost never found in Western music.

AC: How, then, is the concert organized to highlight the spirit of the convivencia?

DJ: We tried to find themes that were universally about daily life – something that each culture would experience. I think it's important when we pick music that we pick things that are going to connect with people and things that people will find inspirational or emotionally conductive so that 21st century audiences can bring something into their lives from medieval music. We wouldn't do this music if we didn't love it.

More information may be found at the Texas Early Music Project website.



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