Osvaldo Golijov: La Pasión según San Marcos
In contrast to Passion composers such as Bach and Gubaidulina, the Argentinian Jewish composer Osvaldo Golijov does not assume that Jesus is a white European. Golijov’s Jesus is dark-skinned, like most of the people in Bethlehem. He is also human and divine in equal quantities, expressing passionate feelings of fear, insecurity and anger above all else. In the Gospel text Jesus speaks with a clarity and directness that Golijov has striven to impart to his Pasión. It is partly for these reasons that Golijov sees the passion story from a Latin American viewpoint, with contemporary heroes such as Che Guevara in his subconscious. Jesus’ words are sung in Spanish, in a musical idiom instantly comprehensible by all, notably rapid strongly-rhythmed tunes that recall Latin American popular music. Golijov makes use of Brazilian ballads for the more intimate moments of the story, whilst for the betrayal of Christ he took his inspiration from Spanish flamenco music.
Golijov employs vocal soloists and orchestra, Afro-Cuban and capoeira dancers, and the famed choir Schola Cantorum de Venezuela to tell the story of the final ordeal and death of Christ according to the Gospel of St. Mark, with additional texts from the Kaddish, the Old Testament and Spanish poetry.
The Orquesta La Pasión (especially assembled for this work by Golijov together with percussionist Mikael Ringquist and pianist/percussionist Gonzalo Grau) - all conducted by Maria Guinand de Grau. The cast also stars Brazilian-born singer Luciana Souza; Jessica Rivera; Afro-Cuban dancer Reynaldo González Fernández; and Deraldo Ferreira leading a troupe of professional capoeira and berimbau dancers.
With the exception of a short passage in Latin and the culminating Kaddish in Aramaic, the text of the work is primarily in Spanish and drawn from many different translations of St. Mark’s telling of the Passion, which results in an idiom that ranges from the highly literary to the vernacular, reflecting the colloquial speech of a cross-section of Latin American society.
Osvaldo Golijov (b. 1960) grew up in the Buenos Aires area of Argentina in a family of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. In his youth he was surrounded, he says, by classical chamber music, klezmer, Jewish liturgical music, and Astor Piazolla’s nuevo tango. He studied piano at the conservatory and composition with Gerardo Gandini. In 1983, Golijov went to Israel to study under Mark Kopytman at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem. Three years later, he moved to America, where he studied at the University of Pennsylvania with the composer George Crumb. Since 1991, he teaches at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
In 2000, Golijov was commissioned along with Sofia Gubaidulina, Tan Dun and Wolfgang Rihm by the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart to write a new composition for the Passion of Christ in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the death of J.S. Bach; in one fell swoop, his La Pasión Según San Marcos brought fame for Golijov amongst a worldwide audience.
Robert Spano, conductor
Biella da Costa, jazz soloist
Jessica Rivera, soprano
Reynaldo Gonzalez Fernandez, Jesus
Deraldo Ferreira, berimbau & capoeirista
Schola Cantorum de Venezuela
Maria Guinand, choral director
Orquesta La Pasión
Mikael Ringquist, leader, percussion
Gonzalo Grau, piano, percussion leader
Geoff Nuttall, violin, leader
Michael Ward-Bergeman, hyper-accordion, sound design
Aquiles Baez, tresore, guitar
David Peña, bass
Damián Padró, percussion
Jesse Seymour, percussion
Marcus Santos, percussion
Ray Vega, trumpet
Dan Brantigan, trumpet
Lennie Peterson, trombone
Hidehiro Domeki, trombone
Holland Festival 2008 Web Site
Detailed schedule information: