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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

New Christmas album uncovers the rich tradition of early Mexican classical music

David Douglass and Ellen Hargis, co-directors of The Newberry Consort.
Courtesy photo
David Douglass and Ellen Hargis, co-directors of The Newberry Consort.

The Americas have a rich history in classical music. One of the more intriguing trends of the past couple of decades is the gradual uncovering of more and more of it — uncovering, and recording.

The Newberry Consort, in collaboration with EnsAmble Ad-Hoc, has just put out a splendid album of just that: "A Mexican Christmas," a live recording of 17th-century traditional music for worship and celebration. The collection features pieces commonly heard in both liturgical service and in the streets, and evoke the solemnity and fanfare heard in Mexico City’s convents and plazas, with jubilant vocals and lively strings, guitars, and percussion. Organ, harp, bassoon, and a variety of Mexican traditional instruments bring this exuberant and diverse music to life.

TPR's Barry Brake caught up with Ellen Hargis, director of the Newberry Consort, to talk more about it and hear some of the sumptuous sounds. Listen to their interview using the audio player at the top of this story.

Barry Brake is a composer, jazz and classical pianist who has been a part of San Antonio's music scene for decades. You can find his musings and musical exploits online here: http://barrybrake.com/