[THE COLOMBIAN ART SONG]: Jaime León: Analysis and Compilation of His Works for Voice and Piano, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

By Carman, Judith | Journal of Singing, November/December 2009 | Go to article overview

[THE COLOMBIAN ART SONG]: Jaime León: Analysis and Compilation of His Works for Voice and Piano, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2


Carman, Judith, Journal of Singing


ABBREVIATION KEY: Diff = difficulty level; V = voice; P = piano; E = easy; mE = moderately easy; M = medium; mD = moderately difficult; D = difficult; DD = very difficult; Tess = tessitura; LL = very low; L = low; mL = moderately low; M = medium; mH = moderately high; H = high; HH = very high; CR = covers range; CS = covers staff; X = no clear key center.

A SOUTH AMERICAN COLLECTION NEW SONG PUBLICATIONS NEW EDITIONS

LA CANCIÓN ARTÍSTICA COLOMBIANA [THE COLOMBIAN ART SONG]: Jaime León: Analysis and Compilation of His Works for Voice and Piano, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Prologue, Research, Compilation and Edition by Dr. Patricia Caicedo. Mundo Arts Publications, 2009.

This second publication in the series Latin American & Spanish Vocal Music Collection, researched, compiled, and edited by Patricia Caicedo, expands the opportunities for American singers to explore the riches of Latin American art song. The first publication, The Latin American Art Song: A Critical Anthology and Interpretive Guide for Singers (reviewed in the November/ December 2006 issue of Journal of Singing) gave us much information about the history of Latin American art song, and an introduction to the works of several composers from various periods. The Colombian Art Song concentrates on just one composer, Jaime León, presenting all but three of his song compositions.

Jaime León was born in Cartagena, Colombia, in 1921. When he was three years old his family moved to the United States, settling first in San Francisco and later in New York where he began his music studies. After graduating from high school in 1937, he returned to Colombia and enrolled in the National Conservatory of Music of Bogota where he studied piano. In 1943 he entered The Juilliard School of Music, studying piano with Carl Friedberg and Joseph Levine, and later composition and orchestral conducting. After two years as conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia, he became Dean of the National Conservatory of Colombia and filled numerous musical posts in his native country. In the 1950s and 1960s he worked in the United States as Assistant and later Principal Conductor of the American Ballet Theater Orchestra, as well as holding positions in Atlanta and with the Dallas Civic Opera Company. These volumes of León's songs have been published in time for the 2009 Barcelona Festival of Song, at which Maestro León was honored with the performance of many of his works.

This scholarly edition contains information about the entire series from Mundo Arts; a Foreword by Dr. Robin Moore, editor of the Latin-American Music Review; a Foreword by Dr. Daniel Sheehy, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center; a Preface by Dr. Caicedo that includes an introduction to the works of Jaime León, a biography of the composer, a chronology of his life and works, a list of songs, a section on the composer's relationship to the poets of his songs; short biographies of the poets; an Interpretive Guide and a Spanish Diction Guide that takes into account Colombian pronunciation differences; the poetic texts with English translations; phonetic transcriptions of the texts; and the musical scores themselves. Both volumes have the complete front material. A recording of all the composer's songs is in preparation. The only drawback to the physical part of this publication is the binding, which prevents the book from staying open on the piano rack.

There are thirty-three songs in all, seventeen in Volume 1 and sixteen in Volume 2. Many of the songs have never been published and are being made available for the first time. Since there are so many songs, this review will not consider them individually but will focus on León's style of song composition.

León's musical life and work connect him to the musical cultures of South America, Europe, and the United States, and he became acquainted with the folk music of each culture. The rhythms, melodies, and harmonies of these folk idioms, combined with the influence of Gershwin and American music theater, form the basis of León's compositional style. …

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