Early Music Festival Utrecht 2015 part 18: Jonatan Alvarado and Codex music

Fringe concert: Jonatan Alvarado, 17th century Spanish guitar music and songs

On the Utrecht Early Music Festival’s last day, one of the first fringe concerts took place inside a historic town castle called “Oudean”. The sprawling building along one of Utrecht’s canals, has a rich history. Now it not only houses a café, restaurant and micro brewery, but also a small cinema. It is in this cinema, that some of the fringe concerts of the Early Music Festival take place.

This time, the public filed into the cinema to hear a concert by mr Jonatan Alvarado. He was going to perform early music from South America and Europe.

There has been a previous Early Music Festival which focussed on the rich tradition of music which was taken to the New World and especially South America. The “exported” music was influenced by Latin American native music traditions, before the music and newly created pieces travelled back to Europe again, to influence European early music.

Mr Alvarado kept his “introduction” for the end of his concert and started his performance straight off, with a series of beautiful anonymous Peruvian songs. These dated from the 17th century. They charmed his public so much, they could not refrain from applauding each song.

Mr Alvarado had organised his selection of songs round about four themes. Due to the humid weather and conditions inside the venue, the Baroque guitar he used needed to be tuned in between the groups of songs. This actually worked well, as there was a clear separation between the sets of songs.

The set of anonymous songs were followed by three songs, the first and last being Tonadas. The third group of songs centred around a love story between Doña Ines and Don Pedro. The basis for the songs seemed to have been the love story between Inés de Castro and King Pedro the Cruel of Portugal. All the songs were performed beautifully, but the Portugese “Romance de Doña Ines” was sung especially hauntingly.

Mr Alvarado mentioned this was his first concert of the day. He had been scheduled to perform during the afternoon at another location. He explained that he had proposed two different programs to the organisation which decides which fringe artists can perform what programs. His program with English songs had been declined, but this Spanish one accepted. But as the theme of the festival was England, he did not take leave of his public without performing an English song.

So as an extra, mr Alvarado concluded with “Yesterday”, by the Beatles. Which just shows that an early music instrument is also perfectly suited to perform fairly modern pop songs.

Towards the end of his first fringe concert of the day, mr Alvarado mentioned he is currently trying to crowd-fund a project. The idea is, to raise funds to record the Latin American early music songs from codices and fund research, to ensure this rich heritage will become available to a larger public and not be lost forever. Interested in helping realise this project: use the link: gofundme.com/guitarandvoice

Mr Alvarado performed the following songs on his Baroque guitar:

Anonymous Peruvian songs from the 17th century
– Qué importa que yo la calle
– Paxarillo fugitivo
– Hijos d’Eva tributarios
– Malograda fuentecilla

– Tonada Lata
– A cierto galán su dama
– Tonada La Donosa

– Romance de Doña Ines
– Don Pedro a quien los crueles
– Porque tan firme os adoro

– Ribericas del rió de Manzarenes
– Entre dos álamos verdes
– Orillas del claro Tajo

– Yo se que no he de ganar

The songs came from the following manuscripts:
– Codex Zuola
Codex Martinez Compañón
Cancioneiro de Paris, Portugal, 16th century
– III livre de Airs de Cour, Etienne Moulinié, 1629

Jonatan Alvarado Baroque guitar, Oudean, Utrecht 6th of September 2015
Youtube Jonatan Alvarado plays songs from the Codex Zuola, 2011

To help crowdfund mr Alvarado’s project:  gofundme.com/guitarandvoice

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