Rediscovering Bolivian Baroque music

Solomon, A. (2015) Rediscovering Bolivian Baroque music. University of Sidney, Sidney, Australia.


From the 1670s, 10 Jesuit missions were founded deep in the Bolivian jungle with the aim of converting to Christianity the local indigenous people, who were keen to learn, and make music. Each mission collected music for its worship, including masses and motets as well as instrumental and keyboard compositions. Although most of the vocal compositions were written by indigenous authors (with texts in local languages: Chiquitana, Baure, Moxa, Canichana, Guarani), the manuscripts also include six masses by Giovanni Battista Bassani (1657-1716), two motets by Johann Joseph Ignaz Brentner (1689-1720) as well as fourteen compositions of Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726). In 1767 the Jesuits were expelled from Bolivia and over the following years the missions closed and their music libraries became “time capsules” of 17th and 18th century music. This music is a unique blend of the European baroque and indigenous Bolivian culture of the time, and powerfully illustrates the fusion of two rich civilisations. This video presentation from April 2015 in the About Music Lecture Series at the University of Sidney details Ashley Solomon's involvement in the rediscovery of Bolivian Baroque music. Further activities on this project are being funded by the Royal College of Music's Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), including education programmes for Bolivian musicians and international performances of the repertoire.

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