domingo, 28 de abril de 2019

Palm Sunday Festival

(Para ler em Português, clique aqui.)

The Palm Sunday Festival, held by the Vox Laci institution in Portugal, is under the artistic direction of Myguel Santos e Castro. The event, which this year has reached its thirteenth edition and is dedicated to sacred music for a cappella choir, always takes place on the weekend before Easter. The idea is to promote the Catholic repertoire, including consecrated works and new compositions.

Every year, a conductor and a guest ensemble participate in the initiative. This year was my turn and, along with me, I brought the Campina Grande Chamber Choir and Danilo Guanais, who composed Domingo de Ramos, a collection of five motets (Pueri hebraeorum; Omnes gentes, plaudite manibus, iubilate Deo in voce exsultationis; Cum angelis; Lauda, Jerusalem; and Ingrediente Domino). In this set of interdependent works, he combines tradition and modernity, uniting the Latin sacred texts and Gregorian melodies with the décimas (tenths), a type of metric poem very popular in northeastern Brazil, which he wrote from his own hand. In the program notes, the composer says that the work is part of the realization of an ancient project to create a set of choral pieces alluding to the Passion of Christ. In his words, “as a starting point, this cycle joins Membra Jesu Nostri (2015) in a sense that it expresses my admiration for the faith that packs, nourishes and inspires people about this passage of Christian history. The work was not thought of as an element of a liturgy per se, functioning as a kind of artistic-musical metaphor of the dramatic tensions that are part of this liturgy. Still, its ideal space for realization is the church, given the acoustic realities that are often found in churches.”

Domingo de Ramos  enchants and at the same time challenges the performers, both conductors and singers, because of its expressive elements and its structure, which is rich in divisi and textures and with intense rhythmic, melodic and harmonic activity. This sweeping fascination, that is accentuated by such elements and the alternation between the lyrical and dramatic sections, was present throughout the preparation process, specially when we rehersed the grand chorale, as well as when we performed in Obidos, Beja, Lisbon and Cascais, moments in which the composer's voice echoed through the centuries-old walls of the temples, while he recited his verses. The select and attentive audience warmly welcomed us in every concert.

The Palm Sunday Festival is simple and sophisticated, is an unforgettable experience, is the meeting between music and mysticism, thanks to the care and love of Myguel Santos and Castro who, besides being conductor, is an entrepreneur, a dear friend, whose heart is huge, like the ocean that separates and connects us.

Vladimir Silva (

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