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The Colombian Art Song Vol. 1

Jaime León: Analysis and Compilation of his works for voice & piano Vol.2

Mundo Arts Publication MA002, New York, January, 2009

In this beautifully edited book you will find 18 songs by Colombian composer Jaime León (1921). It has an introductory study that contextualizes the works and their composers and poets. This study is presented in Spanish and English. The books provides translation of the poems into English and their phonetic transcription. In our website, singers will be able to find audio files with the pronunciation of the texts, by a native Spanish-speaker.


Read the prologue of the book by Dr. Daniel Sheehy, Director & Curator Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and Acting Director of the Smithsonian Latino Center:

I am one of those people who still hold hope that the world would be flat. In this flat world, every person’s merit would be considered on the same par as everyone else’s, undistorted by national, political, economic, and cultural hegemonies.

It would be a place in which Colombian composer Jaime León and others of his artistic accomplishment would be much better known and more widely revered for the beauty and inherently human value that he and they have offered us. 

Maestro León himself has shown us the way toward this utopian ideal, by proudly donning the clothes of his native land’s unique heritage while living fully his statesmanlike citizenship in the broader world, actively engaging international musical languages, inventions, and ambiences. 

This publication is a small but significant step toward this vision of a level field of artistic access and interaction. A modest parallel to UNESCO’s recognition of León’s birthplace of Cartagena de Indias as a World Heritage site, it holds up its native son’s music as an object worthy of world admiration. In it, Dr. Patricia Caicedo’s honed aesthetic discernment and passion for vocal performance converge with one of the richest veins of Jaime León’s creative corpus—works for voice and piano, in large part based on poems by Colombian writers. The result is this rare gem of published music, a testimony to León’s internationalist outlook and an invitation to performers, composers, and savants to savor this subtle musical blend that Maestro Jaime León has prepared for us. Bon appetit!

Prologue by Dr. Robin Moore, Professor of Musicology at University of Texas at Austin, Editor of the Latin-American Music Review

Academic institutions and performers in many parts of the world have yet to discover the wealth of classical musical resources that exist in Latin America. The Spanish Americas are replete with outstanding compositions, and every country and region has made its unique contribution. In terms of chamber music, film music, electronic composition, orchestral scores, sacred repertoire, and in countless other categories, the cultural heritage of this region has much to offer. The art songs collected here by Jaime León, with their refined late tonal harmonic language and evocative texts, bring to mind similar works by the artist's many counterparts in other countries: Manuel Ponce, Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes, and Carlos Guastavino, to mention only a few. 

Differences of language and geographical distance have contributed to the lack of recognition of Latin American classical composers abroad, but other factors have contributed as well. Europe, as the cradle of Western canonical concert traditions, has tended to prioritize its own heritage through research and performance rather than the products of its former colonies. The United States, has largely failed to challenge this focus; its strong embrace of European heritage has precluded exploration in other areas, and an openness to new repertoire.

Inter-American collaborations among certain composers and music historians were demonstrably more frequent in the early twentieth century than has been the case in more recent decades. Figures such as Carlos Chávez, Amadeo Roldán, and Heitor Villa-Lobos collaborated closely with well known musicologists in the United States such as Nicolas Slonimsky, and with composers Henry Cowell, Aaron Copland, and Edgar Varèse. Let us hope that this past spirit of collaboration can be sparked a new through the efforts of researchers such as Patricia Caicedo. Her diligent efforts manifest in publications such of this one, contribute in significant ways to the dissemination of Latin American repertoire, and to educating the broader public as to its significance and beauty.


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