Cuban early music group Ars Longa will perform rarely-heard Latin American baroque music, influenced by the music and rhythms of African slaves, in a concert at Vassar College’s Skinner Hall of Music on Sunday, March 5, 3:00pm. This event is free and open to the public.
The group includes six singers and ten instrumentalists. They focus on music written in Cuba in the 17th and 18th centuries, including chanting, dance rhythms/percussion, and lyrics with onomatopoeia from the African languages. The concert at Vassar will be based on their 2013 album Gulumbá gulumbé. Resonancias de África en el Nuevo Mundo. The album was meticulously researched with assistance from Guatemalan musicologist Omar Morales Abril, and includes a mix of music and poetry. A key component of the program are villancicos negros, African-inspired pieces intended primarily for Christmas that incorporate melodies, dance rhythms, and the onomatopoeic lyrics reminiscent of the languages of the African and Afro-descended population. Composers include Gaspar Fernández, Luis Gargallo, Mateo Tolis de la Rocca, as well as several anonymous authors.
Over the past 20 years, Ars Longa has performed regularly in the most prestigious music venues of Cuba and has participated in international festivals in Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Venezuela, Mexico, and Ecuador. Since 1995 the organization has been part of the Historian’s Office of Havana City. Latin American and Cuban music of the colonial is a core part of group’s repertoire.
Ars Longa also hosts the annual Esteban Salas Early Music Festival in Cuba, presenting early music ensembles and soloists from around the world in concerts and in workshops. The ensemble has released ten CDs, many of which have won prizes and recognition in Europe by Diapason, Le Monde de la Musicque, Télérama and Classica.
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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.