The city of Quito is once again showing how its heritage has many facets, including a centuries-old sacred musical tradition that tugs at the essence of what it means to be human.
Now in its 12th year, the Festival of Sacred Music, held annually during the Easter season, offers concerts from national and international groups in settings unique to Quito, principally the emblematic churches of old town. Among the venues are La Compañia de Jesus, The Cathedral Church, The Basilica, San Francisco Church.
This year, the Festival has the added distinction of presenting musical works recently discovered in the archives of the city of Quito, its churches and convents, and the historical records of the Ministry of Culture. Original scores by Ecuadorean composers will be heard for the first time to new audiences.
The Music Festival runs from March 17 to 28. For a detailed schedule of concerts go to www.teatrosucre.org.
As a special addition, today we present the excerpts of an interview with Chía Patiño, Executive Director of the Sucre National Theatre about the upcoming International Festival of Sacred Music.
Sucre National Theatre
What artisitic or musical richness has been added to the 12th annual Festival of Sacred Music? What is new this year?
CP: This year we are initiating a project whose fruits we continue to harvest: We have found innumerable musical scores in convents, monasteries, and churches which allow us to see that sacred music in Quito, from the beginning [of the city’s foundation], had a prevailing role in each church. We believe that with a thorough investigation by a group specializing in historical music, little by little, we will continue to discover composed and unedited material in our city.
This year we are presenting part of the material that has been found, but we hope that it is only the beginning of a constant process of discovery of our musical heritage and conforms to the musical scores transcribed or published, that will enable us to call for all of the invited musical groups to incorporate a Quito repertoire into their programs, thereby helping to diffuse our heritage internationally.
Describe the selection process for musicians and groups that are participating in this year’s festival? Do they have a certain profile?
CP: The only requirement is that they offer sacred music at a professional level. But the vision of this sacred music is diverse and we care that they explore this, to understand how human beings in distinctive cultures and with distinctive religions or organizations interpret the sacred, creating a musical activity around this expression.
What nationalities are represented and how many musicians are participating?
CP: This year we have invited musicians from nine countries: United States, Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, Mexico, Uruguay, Great Britain and, of course, Ecuador. Some groups are ensembles formed by particular nationalities…this is true of Lipzodes, a group from the United States with a Colombian member who is also the curator of the festival: Juan Arango.
Why is it so important to continue the Sacred Music Festival in the context of the cultural celebration of Holy Week?
The music is part of our roots. Historically, more and more we see evidence of different musical manifestations. Maintaining musical elements during such an important week in our culture augments its profundity and enriches a week that seeks an approach to the eternal, to the sacred, to the holy week.
What role do the churches play in this festival?
Quito, as a world cultural heritage city, has the advantage of maintaining spaces in perfect conditions to present this material. Much of the material was conceived for churches with organs that still exist here in the capital. And this may be the only capital in the world with this richness, not only in terms of quality but also the quantity (of spaces) to be able to present such a repertoire.
What will the tourist or the resident of Quito who attends these recitals encounter?
The opportunity to get off the “urban train” and submerge him or herself in the meditation, reflection, exploration and valuation of the sacred, something essential for human beings, something that separates us - a spark that reflects our sacred origins.