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Un sarao de la Chacona

Tracing the African and Mesoamerican Origins of the Sarabande and the Chaconne


Friday, October 13, 2023

von der Mehden Recital Hall – University of Connecticut

875 Coventry Road

Storrs, Connecticut, 06269

Though the sarabande and the chaconne were stylized sections of courtly suites by Baroque composers such as Scarlatti and Bach, their origins are far removed from any European court, stemming instead from New Spain. In a book about the Spanish colony in 1579, a Dominican friar described the sarabande as a lascivious dance and identified it with the indigenous population. However, at least one surviving song—a villancico for Christmas —links it with enslaved Africans, suggesting that both populations were involved in the creation of the genre. In this program, Ensemble Origo aims to contextualize these origins, showing how a song that mentions the dance was likely performed following Christmas services. The next two sections of the concert trace the printing history of both genres (which were related at one time) from simple guitar strumming patterns that sometimes accompanied voices to the stylized instrumental works adopted by hundreds of European composers in the centuries that followed. The ensemble aims to bring what is known of the genres’ lost—or suppressed—histories to light.

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