Oceana | Symphony
No. 7 “Toltec”

By Osvaldo Golijov and Philip Glass

February 10, 2013 at 7:00PM | Carnegie Hall

MasterVoices | American Symphony Orchestra | James Bagwell, Conductor

In this paring of contemporary choral works by Osvaldo Golijov and Philip Glass, The Chorale turns its attention towards Latin America with the New York premieres of Oceana and Symphony No. 7 “Toltec.” Composed in 1996, Golijov wrote Oceana in the spirit of a Bach cantata, but in a Latin American musical style featuring a jazz vocalist, percussion, and guitars. Set to the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Oceana, in Golijov’s words, is the “transmutation of passion into geometry” and that “water and longing, light and hope, the immensity of South America’s nature and pain, are here transmuted into pure musical symbols, which nevertheless should be more liquid than the sea and deeper than the yearning that they represent.” Popular Venezuelan jazz vocalist and Golijov specialist Biella Da Costa joins The Chorale for this powerful musical work.

Composed in 2004, the Toltec Symphony is Philip Glass’s personal homage to the ancient traditions and beliefs of the peoples of Mesoamerica, ca. 300-1000 CE. Glass wrote of their personal spiritual development: “The Toltecs emphasized the relationship with the forces of the natural world (sun, earth, water, fire and wind) in developing their own wisdom traditions.” In his symphony, Glass portrays this spirituality with driving rhythms and varying textures in the orchestra and chorus.