Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Seductively Spanish-Programming Ideas for Spanish Song Repertoire

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Seductively Spanish-Programming Ideas for Spanish Song Repertoire

Article excerpt

THE PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE is to provide fresh programming ideas, allowing the imaginative performer to create entire Spanish song recitals or song groups based on a poetic idea, the works of a single poet, historical themes, nineteenth century song, twentieth century song, or other performance concepts. New collections of Spanish song are now available in music stores and through Interlibrary Loan, such as the three-volume Canciones de España-Songs of Nineteenth-Century Spain (CE-SNCS) song anthologies that publish eighty-three songs by fifty Castilian composers. Other scholarly works, such as the ten-volume Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoamericana, edited by Emilio Casares Rodicio, are superb resources of Spanish and Hispanic music and musicians. The single volume Art Song Composers of Spain: An Encyclopedia describes the contributions of ninety-three composers born between 1775 and 1950. These research endeavors assess the value of Spanish song literature, provide a backdrop of historical context, illuminate the poetic intent, and acquaint readers with little known repertoire.

Nineteenth and twentieth century Spanish art song has been neglected for a number of reasons. Although some repertoire by the Spanish Five-Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla, Fernando Obradors, Joaquín Rodrigo, Joaquín Turina-is frequently performed and recorded, other songs remain obscure. Collectively, the Spanish Five composed some two hundred songs, yet most singers know only a dozen or so of their canciones. For example, of Rodrigo's eighty-seven songs, his Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios is frequently performed because the cycle was published and successfully marketed by the British publishing company Chester Music. Other Rodrigo songs are not easily attainable because Schott Music, Unión Musical Española, and other publishing companies continue to believe that there is no market for Spanish song repertoire. Such companies unfortunately have created their own realities.1 As a result, our singers and audiences are deprived of delightful canciones with their mesmerizing accompaniments, vivacious dance rhythms, exquisite poetry, and rich vocal melodies.

To cite another example, singers are familiar with Fernando Obradors's songs-"La Mi Sola, Laureola," "Al Amor," "¿Corazón, Porqué Pasáis . . . ," "El Majo Celoso," "Con Amores, la Mi Madre . . . ," "Del Cabello más Sutil" ["Dos Cantares Populares"], "Coplas de Curro Dulce"-published in volume one of Canciones Clásicas Españolas. These songs are programmed because the collection is published and marketed by International Music Company, New York. The songs in volumes two, three, and four of Canciones Clásicas Españolas, published by Unión Musical Española in Madrid, are not commonly known, but like volume one, the songs are lovely modern settings of indigenous folk melodies.

General art song anthologies published in the United States, too, have neglected Spanish song repertoire. Of the song collections commonly used with high school and undergraduate singers, most publish no Spanish songs, while others contain only a single song by Granados or a Mexican folk song. Anthologies such as these promote the paradigm that only the music of the US, Italy, Germany, and France is worthy of performance. We as voice teachers might consider that many of our voice students are native Spanish speakers while others study Spanish as a second language. On the high school2 and college/university levels, an overwhelming majority of students enroll in Spanish courses, making it the most prevalent language studied as a second language.3 In 2002, less than fifteen percent of college students studied French as a second language and less than eight percent studied German. More than fifty-three percent of those students studying a foreign language studied Spanish.4

Another compelling reason to include Spanish song literature in the studio is that many of our voice students are music education majors. …

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