Abya Yala Choral Suite
A choral suite composed by Freddy Vilches Meneses
Commissioned by Resonance Ensemble and ACDA Northwest
This multilingual choral work is a five-movement composition that draws on the poetry of poets from different native communities in Abya Yala, including Mapudungun, Quechua, Aymara, Maya K'iche', and Nahuatl. These poems were set to music by the composer, but the settings are the result of multiple conversations and collaborative work with all the poets involved in this project. In close collaboration with them, the composer selected the instrumentation utilized for each music introduction, the types of rhythms and melodies to be featured, and worked on the style of music selected for each poem. In some cases, the poets indicated their preference for a particular song style, a certain set of instruments, and the repetition of certain sections of their poem.
The poems were chosen for their beauty and subtle, yet powerful messages. In these texts we find the constant presence of our ancestors, a profound love for the land “Pachamama,” and a strong call to preserve the languages and cultures of our indigenous communities for future generations.
The result is this multilingual work that includes poets from the Mapuche, Aymara, Quechua, Maya K'iche', and Nahuatl communities. Although directly related to Abya Yala, the topics addressed by these poets are universal, hence the beauty and relevance of these poems for all.
The first movement, featuring the poetry of a Mapuche poet, is introduced by traditional instruments from the Mapuche musical tradition, including the trutruca, the pifilka, the trompe, the kultrún, and the cascahuillas. The instrumental introduction features rhythmic patterns and melodies that are typical of Mapuche music, creating a strong sense of place and culture. The choral section that follows is introspective and contemplative, reflecting the Mapuche emphasis on community and spiritual harmony.
The second movement, featuring the poetry of an Aymara poet, is introduced by traditional instruments from the Andes region, including the charango, quena, and zampoñas. The instrumental introduction is evocative of the high Andean landscape, with traditional melodies on quena flute and percussion . The choral section that follows is full of energy and vitality, and an invitation to celebrate "con la fuerza del sol" the Aymara culture and to recover ancestral ways of knowing and traditions.
The third movement, featuring the poetry of a Quechua poet, is introduced by the tarkas and bombo, two instruments that are central to the music of the Andes. The instrumental introduction is lively and celebratory, reflecting the joy and vitality of the Quechua people. The choral section that follows is full of energy and movement, in a strong call to end violence of all types, including the violence against our own indigenous communities and our sacred land "la Pachamama".
The fourth movement, featuring the poetry of a K'iche' poet, is introduced by traditional instruments from Mesoamerica, including drums, shakers, shells, and clay flutes. The instrumental introduction is haunting and evocative, reflecting the mystical and spiritual qualities of Maya culture. The choral section that follows is full of intricate rhythms and harmonies, and a strong call to end reflecting the complexity and depth of K'iche' culture.
The fifth and final movement, featuring the poetry of a Nahuatl poet, is introduced by drums and diverse clay flutes from the Aztecs, including the death whistle, a haunting instrument that was traditionally used in Aztec rituals. The instrumental introduction is powerful and intense, reflecting the strength and resilience of the Nahuatl people. The choral section that follows is full of drama and passion, lamenting the attempts to erase the Nahuatl language by the Mexican school system. This poem is also a call to action, reflecting the Nahuatl communities' commitment to social justice and cultural identity.
Together, these movements form a unique and powerful work that celebrates the diversity and richness of Latin American culture, highlighting the beauty of its many languages, musical traditions, and poetic voices. The result is a deeply collaborative and respectful work that offers a true reflection of the voices and experiences of these diverse communities.
Abya Yala Choral Suite
Freddy Vilches Meneses
Elicura Chihuailaf Nahuelpán (Mapudungun)
Estela Gamero López (Aymara)
Julieta Zurita Cavero (Quechua)
Rosa Chávez (Maya K’iche’)
and Gustavo Zapoteco Sideño (Nahuatl)