Los Pastores: A Beautiful Collaboration

On Sunday, November 27, 2016 NMPAS will co-present the music from “Los Pastores” and “Las Posadas”. Our partner for this year’s Annual Winter Solstice concert is El Rancho de las Golondrinas (https://golondrinas.org). Las Golondrinas has traditionally celebrated Christmas at this time of year. We are so pleased that they and their members are joining us for a very Spanish, Mexican and New Mexican telling of the Christmas story.

The many groups who are taking part in “Los Pastores” include the UNM Robb Trust, which is helping to underwrite artist fees and has created a new orchestra score of New Mexico composer John Donald Robb’s arrangement of the “Los Pastores” music; Enrique Lamadrid, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Spanish at UNM, and folk historian and musician Jack Loeffler. NMPAS is also honored to have a founding member of La Gran Pastorela de Belén and several current members of the Belén Pastorela joining us for the concert!

But what really moves me about this program is that it is so true to our New Mexico heritage. Those of you who have been reading the Santiago de Compostela series know that I was on the Camino de Santiago last summer for 2.5 weeks. Being in Spain was totally amazing, because I know that many of our Spanish and Hispanic traditions have come here from the “Mother Country.”

And “Los Pastores” is particularly timely, given that our country is so divided along ethnic and racial lines. Programs such as this allow us to celebrate and honor the beauty of diversity, and to come together around this wonderful Hispanic folk music. For us as founders of NMPAS, nothing could more truly represent what we think music can and should do in communities: bring people together!

This is what you’ll hear and experience at “Los Pastores”:

The program opens with “Las Posadas,” the Festival of the Inns. “Las Posadas” is about Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem to register and being unable to find room at any inn. While in Bethlehem, Mary gives birth to the baby Jesus.

The story and music are presented by two groups, “Pastores” (Shepherds) and “Posaderos” (Innkeepers). The 12 singers of the New Mexico Bach Chorale take on these roles, which eventually come together to honor the birth of the Divine Child. The music is beautiful, set to a wonderful text. Enrique Lamadrid and Linda Marianiello have provided a translation of the texts that will appear in the program. Those who know “Las Posadas” are welcome to follow along and sing with us at the concert.

“Las Posadas” is followed by 8 beautiful carols and motets from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. These works are short gems for Advent and the Christmas season. They originated in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Guatemala, and are set to texts in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin. As Music Director Franz Vote pointed out at our recent Renesan Institute lecture, these works show Italian influences and represent a very sophisticated level of composition. Perhaps most importantly, each one is beautiful and adds another dimension to the program.

Following a short intermission, Jack Loeffler and Enrique Lamadrid will present a short introduction to “Los Pastores.” Since we will only be doing the music from the Hispanic folk play, their oral program notes will fill the audience in on the historical and cultural background of the entire play, which really took off and continues to be celebrated throughout “Greater Mexico,” which includes New Mexico, of course.

The music for “Los Pastores” includes 8 pieces on various texts:

  1. Pedimento de las posadas / Request for lodgings
  2. Cuando por el oriente sale la aurora / When the sun rises in the East
  3. De la real Jerusalén / From royal Jerusalem
  4. Vamos todos a Belén / Let us go unto Bethlehem
  5. Levantada de Bartolo / Bartolo gets up from his bed
  6. A la ru / Lullaby to the Divine Child
  7. Ofrecimiento de los pastores / The shepherds’ offering
  8. Adiós José, Adiós María / Goodbye Joseph, Goodbye Mary

As the audience will learn, “Los Pastores” has been a vehicle for political commentary, has sometimes been suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church as too sexually explicit, and includes the character of Bartolo. Various versions of “Los Pastores” cast Bartolo as either a drunk who has to be carried on stage or as the doubting Jew, who refuses to recognize who Jesus really is.

I will close by mentioning that the New Mexico Bach Society is one of three activities under the New Mexico Performing Arts Society umbrella. Affiliated with Bach Societies around the world and with the original Bach Gesellschaft in Leipzig, Germany, the New Mexico Bach Society is led by Metropolitan Opera conductor Franz Vote. This concert features 12 vocal soloists, all members of the New Mexico Bach Chorale, and 12 instrumentalists for the orchestral arrangement of “Los Pastores.” Strings and flute also accompany the carols and motets.

Where: Cristo Rey Catholic Church, 1120 Canyon Road, Santa Fe When:  Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 6 pm / Doors open at 4:45 for tickets and seating

Tickets: the “Purchase Tickets” page of the NMPAS website (www.nmperformingartssociety.org) connects you directly to this event, where you may purchase tickets online. Or you may call our ticket vendor, Hold My Ticket, at 877-466-3404.

Reserved seating. Reservations recommended. Tickets at the door on a space available basis.

Deepest Thanks to First National Bank of Santa Fe, which is partially sponsoring this concert.

Additional funding has been provided by the McCune Charitable Foundation, New Mexico Arts and the Santa Fe Arts Commission.

Linda Marianiello

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