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FIU Music Series: Ars Longa presents Gulumba Gulumbe
March 1 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Co-sponsored by the Miami Bach Society
For its U.S. debut, this celebrated ensemble brings us “GULUMBA, GULUMBE” Resonances of Africa in the New World – a program of 17th- and 18th- century music from the colonial period in the Americas, resonating with strong influences from African culture. Music of Fernandez, Salgado, de la Rocca, and of course, Anonimo (17th century), performed with viola da gamba, flautas dulces, chirimias, sacabuche, bajon, Baroque guitar, and chamber organ.
With the Portuguese expeditions to the west coast of Africa in the middle of the fifteenth century and the founding of the lucrative ‘Casa dos escravos’ in Lisbon in 1486, the image of ‘el negro’ in the urban society of the Iberian peninsula became one of an exotic and mythical giant, an image that spread progressively to the West Indies with the expanding slave trade, bringing a great number of African captives to work in the fields, workshops, and mines after the decimation of the indigenous population at the hands of the European colonials.
This African image and presence on both sides of the Atlantic coincided with the Golden Age of Hispanic literature and contributed to the gradual absorption of popular expression into the existing cultural fabric just as court poets and musicians adopted forms and rhythms of the streets. Poetry and music of tradition in the new world simply absorbed the cultural expression of the Africans and their descendants. Although close in form to the European cantata, the ‘villancico’ with its ‘estribillos’ and ‘coplas’ came directly from what was being sung in the pueblos.
This integration of African culture into the Spanish and Portuguese society opened the way to a variety of stereotyped expressions such as ‘hablo de negro’ and ‘guineo’, literary dialects created to mimic the African ones. These were simply deformed versions of Spanish and Portuguese with some invented words whose sounds caricatured African speech.
Certainly the form in which this was most evident was the ‘villancico religioso’. During the sixteenth century it became increasingly common in the Hispanic churches to introduce
chanzoetas’ in the vernacular during the office of Matins on the most popular feasts of the liturgical year. These were often in the form of ‘villancicos’, which became more and more requested as the next century advanced. During the year, each feast in each church in the Portuguese and Spanish dominions would present eight or nine ‘villancicos’ based on the theme of the celebration. The mood was always comic and very theatrical: the examples which have survived are often in the form of a dialogue, a story as introduction followed by a discussion between two or more personages. These were, of course, normally the stereotypical ‘negros’ from the popular theaters, and the favored elements were songs and dances with drums. The titles were ‘cumbe, zumbe, paracumbe, zarambeque, guirigay’, an infinite variety, recognizable as ‘guineos’, meant to mimic African speech rhythms and sounds.
These ‘villancicos’ portray the Africans strictly according to the artistic vision of poets and musicians in the service of a dominant power. However, despite the somewhat patronizing slant, they richly manifest not only the human dimension of the slaves but also the cultural riches of the black population of Spanish America, its rhythms, its phantasy, its ways of celebrating, its extraverted joy as a sign of vital energy. All this, however, without portraying directly the voices or sound of a people but only its resonance within another tradition.
Tickets for the performance are $35.00 General Admission, $45.00 or Preferred seating. Students up to the age of 18 are admitted free of charge. College and graduate students pay $5.00. For student tickets please email Info@MiamiBachSociety.org