The text that has become the maxim of the believing people of all times: Well, the fig tree will not sprout again, nor will it be necessary to gather in the vineyards. The olive harvest will fail, the fields will not give food, the smaller cattle will be lacking in the fold, there will be no larger cattle in the stables, but I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! (BJ, Room 3, 17-18). With this hopeful feeling we celebrate the VI Week of Sacred Music of Havana, after the sad events that recently clouded the sky and the smile in our centennial and beloved city. Five years of musical experiences are counted in the Weeks, coordinated by the Cathedra of Sacred Music of the Padre Félix Varela Cultural Center under the protection of the Archdiocese of San Cristóbal La Habana, together with the academic support of the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music and Musical Pedagogy of Ratisbona (Hochschule für katholische Kirchenmusik und Musikpädagogik Regensburg HfKM, Regensburg) and the bishopric of this city. Five years also accompanied by the collaboration of numerous institutions including, in this edition, the Bishopric of Santa Clara, the Holy Greek Orthodox Archbishopric of Mexico; the Esteban Salas Musical Heritage Cabinet and Opus Habana magazine, both from the Office of the City Historian; the National Center of Concert Music of the Cuban Institute of Music, the Provincial Center of Music of Santa Clara; the Diocesan Institute of Sacred Music of Opole (Diecezjalny Instytut Muzyki Ko cielnej w Opolu, Poland); the University of Valladolid (Spain); the Goethe Institute; the Hermanos Saíz Association; and the cultural sections of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Havana. Five years in short, where the interpretation and composition of sacred musical repertoires has acquired a systematic space, enriching the liturgical practice itself with the attendance of musicians now more competent to exercise it and recent works by consecrated and young composers such as Juan Piñera, Daniel Toledo, Alexis Rodríguez, Steven Heelein …
During this year the Cathedra of Sacred Music has extended its teaching activities, taking shape in the summer months an initiative of SERMons. Juan de la Caridad García, Archbishop of Havana: Training Courses in Sacred Music. This new academic offer aimed at believers involved in liturgical practices that did not have musical instruction, allowed an approach to the history and rudiments of musical language to a group of faithful from our congregations. This also resulted in the creation of the School of the Archdiocese of San Cristóbal de La Habana made up of children directed by the teacher Mailán Ávila.
Regarding the instrumentarium that today is had for the interpretation of sacred music, to the instruments that the Cathedra guarded last year is now added the Merklin-Schütze organ (Paris / Brussels, 1856) refunctionalized a few days ago in its new location in the Church of San Francisco de Asís (Cuba and Amargura). The Merklin-Schütze, the second oldest instrument preserved in Havana after the Daublaine-Ducroquet organ (Paris, ca. 1845-1855) of the Church of Paula, has been restored by the German government, the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Cuba, the Foundation for the Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and the Baltisches Orgel Centrum in coordination with the Archdiocese of Havana, contracting the services of organism of the Swiss House Organera Ferdinand Stemmer SA It is a majestic example of a Romanesque-French timbral, which, as well as the rest of the instruments managed by the Chair since 2015 – the Graf organ (Luzern, 1989) of the Parroquia del Espíritu Santo donated by the Sisters of St. Anne of Luzerna, a positive organ, a harmonium, and a harpsichord donated by the Swiss organ master Ferdinand Stemmer — it will be dedicated to liturgical, academic and concert actions. On the other hand, the organ of the Parroquia del Espíritu Santo as well as the positive one of the Cathedral, have been recently fitted out by the Spanish organ builder Joaquín Lois and a group of Cuban organizer apprentices, the same ones that in the future will guarantee their proper organological functioning .
With such good news then comes the proposal of this VI Sacred Music Week, an offer already customary in the grounds of the Historic Center of Old Havana, and in which for the first time the voice of Latin American musicians and repertoires is strongly felt. indigenous to their regions. It is about the presence of the Venezuelan Gregorian singing teacher Mario G. Ojeda; the Mexican organist Agustín Mejía; and the also Mexican Marha P. Ramírez, protopsaltis (singer) of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral Santa Sofia in Mexico. For their part, the local early music ensembles Ensemble Cantabile and Ars Nova work in workshops and repertoire concerts of the Cuban Esteban Salas, the Jesuit missions and the Captaincy of Guatemala.
These developments occur while living the usual academic spaces. Workshops, conferences, concerts and liturgical celebrations come together in the tight schedule of eight days that will leave a balance similar to that of other years: a more seasoned public in listening to that music generated from faith and a body of practical musicians more knowledgeable in the timbral, gestural and doctrinal relationship of the sacred creations they assume. Although every year the usual workshops in the Week bring the imprint of new teachers, the uniqueness of this sixth edition is the approach to a historical and transcendental corpus such as the psalms in the space of the workshops of interpretation of the choral repertoire and of composition. When all interested public can attend this area of training, the students of the Diploma in Sacred Music managed by the Cathedra in its second edition have the excellent opportunity to complete the learning of those contents that they systematically receive during the Week.
The frequent presence of established professors such as the professor and organist Stefan Baier, the organist and teacher Markus Rupprecht, the flutist and teacher Claudia Gerauer, the professor and choral director Kunibert Schäfer, the professor, choral director and composer Steven Heelein, the harpsichordist and teacher Kathleen McIntosh and Professor María Antonia Virgili honor these conferences. These are added to the daily pedagogical work of the professors of the Cathedra carried out by the consummate choral director and teacher Alina Orraca, the singer and professor Joanne de la Torre, the musicologist Claudia Fallarero, the professor Deacon Juan Ríos and the organist Moisés Santiesteban. Lastly, the singer Katja Stuber, a specialist in baroque music and teacher from Regensburg, who is performing this time as a soloist and singing teacher, as well as Gabriela Czurlok, a Polish organist and teacher at the Diocesan Institute of Music, will arrive at the Week for the first time. Sacra of Opole.
In the theoretical space of the Week, several visions converge this year: that of Professor María Antonia Virgili from the University of Valladolid with a cycle on the relationship “Liturgy and Music: Aesthetic dimension, beauty and creativity”; the perspective of Marha P. Ramírez, who addresses Byzantine music and the Greek Orthodox Church in Latin America in an illustrated conference; that of Amós López of the Council of Churches of Cuba with a panoramic review of liturgical music in Cuban Protestantism from the sixties onwards, and that of Claudia Fallarero, with another cycle about the functionality of the Cuban post-conciliar repertoire for different times liturgical. The long-awaited workshops exclusively dedicated to choirs and the fifth Meeting of Parish Choirs of Havana, organized for the teacher Ada Rabelo, reappear.
Finally, in the VI Week, generational circles of pedagogical transmission are closed between the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music and Musical Pedagogy of Regensburg as the governing space and Latin America. On the one hand, the organist Gabriela Czurlok is the result of Stefan Baier’s postgraduate teaching work in Regensburg, and has been an organ teacher for some of the graduates of the first edition of the Diploma in Sacred Music at the Padre Félix Cultural Center. Varela in stays carried out by these students at the Diocesan Institute of Sacred Music of Opole (Poland). On the other hand, the Mexican organist Agustín Mejía has been a student of Markus Rupprecht, who in turn has learned the secrets of the organ with Stefan Baier, also teacher of the Cuban organist Moisés Santiesteban. Regensburg has also been the training center of the Venezuelan teacher Mario G. Ojeda to learn there the art of Gregorian chant that he teaches singers in this sixth edition.
With these coordinates, let us couple our voices with that of the more than eighty children and as many professional singers and parish choirs who perform in concerts. Let’s join our understanding with that of the instrumentalists and participants in workshops and conferences. Let us live the expression of our faith together with that of the faithful congregants in a Havana that arrives undaunted at 500 years of age. Let’s enjoy the VI Week of Sacred Music in Havana, grateful for the opportunity and the generosity of those who make it possible.