Sherrill Blodget to present at Eastern Division Convention

Exploring the music of the Mexican Baroque: Introduction and performance suggestions for the newly edited Los Maitines de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción by Ignacio de Jerusalem (1768).
Sherrill Blodget, Castleton State College

In recent years the music of sixteenth to eighteenth century viceroyal Mexico has gained exposure through research and modern performance. Motets, Masses, and villancicos by composers such as Ignacio de Jerusalem, Juan Gutierrez de Padilla, Manuel de Zumaya, and Juan Garcia de ZŽspedes have been performed and recorded by ensembles worldwide. Despite this recent rise in popularity and ongoing research into these musical traditions, much of this music remains inaccessible to modern choral and orchestral ensembles due to a lack  of published editions and performance practice guides.

Ignacio de Jerusalem (1707-1769), maestro de capilla at the Mexico City Cathedral from 1750-1769, has been lauded as one of the most talented and important composers in eighteenth-century Mexico. Of his extensive output, which includes Matins settings, Vespers psalms, Latin motets, loas, villancicos, and several single- and double-choir Masses, the Matins services from his last decade are the most monumental in scale. The responsories include elaborate choral-orchestral settings and virtuosic concerted arias.

In an effort to make more of Jerusalem’s delightful music accessible to the public, my doctoral research focused on creating a historically informed performance edition of Los Maitines de Nuestra Se–ora de la Concepci—n (The Matins for Our Lady of the Conception) composed by Jerusalem in 1768.  The Matins, which previously existed only in manuscript, is scored for SATB choir and soloists, and a chamber orchestra of violins, trompas (baroque horns and trumpets), oboes, flutes, basso continuo, and organ. The music exemplifies Jerusalem’s exquisite compositional style, which combines the galant, late baroque, and individual traits. In this setting the invitatory, hymn, and Responsories 1, 3, 4, and 6, are scored for choir and chamber orchestra, with solo sections. Responsories 2, 5, and 7 are set as arias for tenor, soprano, and alto. The arias display the theatrical, operatic aspects of Jerusalem’s writing, contrasting the simpler choral style in the choral responsories and introductory movements. The combination makes it possible for ensembles of varying experience to successfully perform sections or all of the Matins.

Based on my edition, the premier modern performance of the Invitatorio and first two Nocturns of the Matins was given by the Arizona Choir as the capstone concert for the Second International Symposium on Latin American Music  “Exploring Exchange: Church and Theatre, Iberia and the Americas, Past and Present” at the University of Arizona in January, 2009.  The music was very well received. I am currently working on the final Nocturn and preparing the entire edition for publication in 2010.

At the Eastern Division ACDA Conference Research Paper Session (Source Studies in the Music of the Baroque Era, Friday 4:00pm) I will provide an overview of the Matins for Our Lady of the Conception and will discuss performance practice challenges and programming considerations for modern concert settings. In addition I will highlight aspects of preparing the edition, presenting slides of the manuscript and the Cathedral and Archive of Mexico City to put the work in the context of the glorious setting for which it was originally composed and performed. Through sharing my research I hope to encourage further performances of this glorious Matins, and to spark further interest in creating performance editions of the wealth of manuscripts remaining in the archives of the Mexico City Cathedral and elsewhere in Latin America.