George Frideric Handel wrote a funeral anthem in honor of a woman he venerated, Queen Caroline of England - and a number of composers in central America wrote lively music in veneration of the Holy Virgin.
Lasting three days, the most recent Early Music Days in Herne was all about homages and tributes: homages to worldly figures and tributes to divine ones.
George Frideric Handel first met his future queen in Berlin at the court of Frederick I when both were young. He later moved to London and became a subject of the Crown. In 1714, when Georg August of Hanover was crowned King George of England, Caroline was at his side, as his wife and the future Queen of England. When she died 23 years later, Handel wrote the music for her funeral. In it, the queen would have recognized a personal touch: Handel quoted hymns that would have been recognized only by someone who had grown up in Lutheran Germany.
One concert at the Early Music Days by the ensemble Ars Longa from Havana, Cuba was about the musical veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints from Latin America. This very lively sacred music combines European, African and Indio traditions and sometimes portrays the Mother of God as a sort of Earth Mother to accommodate local religious traditions.
In one piece by Diego José de Salazar, Mary is even portrayed as a bullfighter, confronting and of course vanquishing evil - depicted, needless to say, by the bull.
"De esta Rosa tan bella" (What does my faith say about this beautiful rose?) is a tribute to a more worldly figure: Rosa of Lima, the first woman born in South America to be declared a saint. The composer is Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco, who came from Spain and was music director at the Cathedral in Lima Peru from 1676 until 1728.
George Frideric Handel
The Ways of Zion Do Mourn, funeral anthem for Queen Caroline, HWV 264 (1737)
Le concert spirituel
Hervé Niquet, conductor
Recorded by West German Radio, Cologne (WDR) in the Arts Center, Herne on November 12, 2016
Diego José de Salazar
Salga el Torillo Hosquillo (Come out, tired bull)
Lanchas Para Baylar
Tomás de Torrejón Velasco
De esta rosa tan bella (What does my faith say about this beautiful rose?)
Ah, del ver (Oh see, oh hear)
Ars Longa, Havana
Teresa Paz, conductor
Recorded by West German Radio, Cologne (WDR) in the Church of the Cross, Herne on November 12, 2016