The Harp Consort

In baroque Mexico people knew better than anywhere else how to combine the solemn character of a religious feast with the merry excesses of a popular fiesta. Comical intermezzos in the vernacular Portuguese, Spanish, Basque, African and Nahuatl languages offered welcome relief from Latin liturgy during Mass. For these popular texts pieces of music were composed based on popular ballads and dances: thus originated the villancico. As music director of the cathedral in Puebla the Portuguese Gaspar Fernandes wrote a whole volume of such villancicos. The Harp Consort combines this exotic repertoire with the polyphonic Missa Veni Domine by Duarte Lobo. Thus the ensemble evokes an image full of contrast of the enthralling Mexican culture of the 17th century: the elegance of old Europe in dialogue with the energetic enthusiasm of the New World. Fiesta!

Andrew Lawrence-King, artistic direction