The Highlands University Department of Music will present “Songs of Hispania” in Ilfeld Auditorium on December 2 at 3 p.m. Andr Garca-Nuthmann will conduct the Madrigal Choir with Elizabeth Bunch at the piano.
The chorus will begin with a group of haunting and rhythmic Sephardic folksongs sung in Ladino, the dialect spoken by Spanish Jews. Next, the choir will perform “Miserere” by Gregorio Allegri, and then finish the program with three lively songs in Spanish.
Ladino derives its vocabulary mainly from Old Castilian, Hebrew, Turkish and a bit of French and Greek and has been spread throughout the world by Jews seeking refuge from persecution. Many Ladino speakers have not transmitted the language of the Sephardic Jews to their children or grandchildren, so music in the form of folksongs is now the main carrier of the dialect, passed primarily by mothers to their daughters.
A member of the Papal choir, composer Allegri (1582-1652) produced masses, motets and smaller works. His masterpiece is considered to have been “Miserere”, an a cappella religious piece based on Psalm 51 and featuring choir and quartet.
Soloists will include Karliz de Marco, Stephanie Salas, Sage Harrington, Serena Allingham, and Devin Barad.
Garca-Nuthmann, program coordinator of the music department at Highlands University, formed the Madrigal choir in 1992 with the idea of introducing his students to a more demanding musical repertoire. In the process of constantly honing their musical skills the singers have explored an extensive repertoire, including Hispanic works, both contemporary and classical. In the process, they have performed with the Santa Fe Symphony on many occasions.
Last summer Gov. Richardson helped the choir travel to Eisenstadt, Austria, where they took a major part in the Classical Music Festival, and Garca-Nuthmann was a soloist in a performance of Haydn’s “Creation.”
The Madrigal Choir’s accompanist, Elizabeth Bunch has been a piano instructor and choral accompanist at NMHU since for 20 years, and organist at the First Presbyterian Church in Las Vegas.
Joe Cooney is assistant director and Victoria Evans is choir manager.
General admission is $10, $5 for HU faculty, staff and senior citizens. Students with valid I.D. will be admitted free.