Arts-Scène Diffusion

Il Festino


Armonía Divina y Humana

Armonía Divina y Humana

Hispano-American canciones, villancicos and cachuas of the 16th and 17th centuries

On 12 October 1492 history changed forever. Christopher Columbus’s arrival in America and the subsequent discovery of that vast continent by the Spanish led to the greatest economic, political, religious and demographic upheavals that humanity had ever known. Spain and Portugal divided the world between them by the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, and it was the former above all that would play its cards right to become the first global power, the empire on which “the sun never set”, thanks to the gold and silver of the New World.

The legend of the American Eldorado gave rise to large-scale transatlantic migration, leading to the colonisation and Christianisation of the new territories. The Spanish crown established an administration on the Castilian model and set up viceroyalties which, though in theory subject to the crown, in reality enjoyed considerable power and independence. These were effectively courts, the most important being in Mexico and Peru, and they constructed palaces and cathedrals which would become centres of intense intellectual and artistic activity.

The arrival of the Europeans and subsequently of black African slaves led to a degree of interbreeding that varied from place to place. The indigenous peoples, though not allowed to be enslaved, were systematically discriminated against and sometimes even exterminated. The cultural intermingling also had consequences at an artistic level. The Spanish imported a musical style grounded in the European polyphonic tradition as well as a large number of instruments, in particular stringed instruments. Missionary activity placed great stress on singing and music was ever-present, in the church as much as in the street. Moreover, a particular characteristic of Latin American music was that so-called ‘popular’ instruments (such as guitars, percussion and wind instruments), as well as indigenous and African rhythms, were not merely tolerated but encouraged by the religious authorities in church music. This brought about an unusually strong and fervent connection between the indigenous peoples and the gospel – a connection that persists even now. Art music also attained an important place thanks to the presence of music directors from Europe who worked in the important dioceses such as Lima and Mexico.

In this programme we aim to showcase the richness, beauty and variety of the musical styles current in America in the 16th and 17th centuries, highlighting the originality that they gained from the incorporation of folk elements and the universality that resulted from the encounter between Europe, America and Africa. We also feature several tonos by José Marín, as well as airs in Spanish published in France at the time of Louis XIII, so proving – if proof were necessary – that music knows no boundaries, but travels the world and will always do so.

This programme receives its first performance as part of Il Festino’s residency at the Lanvellec Festival in October 2017.


Dagmar Saskova & Barbara Kusa voices
Eric Bellocq guitars & lutes
xx theorbo
Laurent Sauron percussion
Manuel de Grange guitar, lute & direction


Armonía Divina y Humana



Armonía Divina y Humana
Armonía Divina y Humana

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