The Hispanic Heritage Series
Corazon de la Tierra Heart of the Earth
co-sponsored by MECCA
8:00 p.m.,Tuesday, January 12, 1999
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Libro Sagrado Sacred Book
Sonidos Antiguos Ancient Sounds
Ofrenda a Los Quatro Rumbos Offering to the Four Corners
Piedreros Those Who Play Rocks
Uenado Rey King Deer
Trompetas de Barro Clay Trumpets
Corazó n de la Tierra Heart of the Earth
Alegrí a Joy
Huehuetl, which in the Mexican Nahuatl language means old or ancient, presents representative indigenous dances and music performed on musical instruments from the Mayan, Olmec, and Aztec cultures and from currently existing descendants of these cultures such as Huaves, Mayo-Yaquis, Tarahumara, and Huicholes. The ensemble, which is from Tonalá , Jalisco, Mexico, was formed by Isaac Borsegui and his wife Patricia Alcala and also includes their three children. Members of the group have performed with the University of Colima Ballet, Ballet of the University of Guadelajara, and Folkloric and Classical Ballet of the Cabañ as Cultural Institute. In addition they have made appearances at the Cuballet Festival of La Havana Cuba, The Latin American Festival of the University of Arizona, The San Antonio Festival, The Nations Festival in Rotorus, New Zealand, Harvard University, Berkley College of Music, Boston College, New England Conservatory, and Christmas Revels in San Francisco, Cambridge, and Houston.
Isaac Borsegui, director of Huehuetl, was born in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico in 1958, and has participated in the traditional music and dance of Mexico since the age of four. After attending the School of Music at the University of Guadalajara, in 1983 he founded the School of Mexican Indigenous Musical Art at the Cabañ as Cultural Institute where children, young adults, and professional musicians participate. From this school, diverse musical groups performing on indigenous instruments have been formed. Mr. Borsegui also has been involved in music of many different genres including performances with the National Symphonic Orchestra. In 1984, he received the National Teaching Prize for his orchestral work Homenaje a José Clemente Orozco. He also met Patricia Alcala, his future wife, in 1984 and together they formed Huehuetl. They have undertaken extensive research into the music, rituals, and way of life of the Mexican indigenous cultures.
Patricia Alcala was born in Armerí a, Colima in 1960. She undertook studies in preschool education and obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences. While completing her undergraduate degree, she became interested in the study of indigenous cultures. Subsequently, she began course work in Mexican Indigenous Arts with the professor, Isaac Borsegui at the Cabañ as Cultural Institute whom she later married. The formation of the ensemble Huehuetl grew out of their interest in acquainting others of life in the pre-Columbian era.
Tonantzin, Topiltzin, Ce Acatle Borsegui, children of Isaac and Patricia Borsegui, have grown up performing with their parents and have a vast background in music, dance and construction of instruments. They form an important part of the mission of the ensemble Huehuetl which is present performances of indigenous music as it might have been performed in a pre-Columbian village in Mexico.
The musical/dance program which we present is rooted closely in form to the reality of Mexican indigenous music as heard in pre-Columbian Mexico. The presentation has been developed through extensive study over the past twenty years of anthropology, archaeology, and musicology. Our work expresses the philosophical musical content of a village which maintained its tradition even after the Spanish conquest, which nearly ended indigenous art and philosophy which often had to be preserved in secrecy.
On the performance stage, we show garments constructed and decorated with natural elements that were utilized in the period of the Mexican tribes, along with a collection of musical instruments which were fashioned from documentary evidence gathered from codices. This spectacle is a magical journey with the scent of copal that transports us back in time to a mysterious prehispanic world.
This presentation, which is performed in several ancient dialects that are still spoken in some areas of Mexico today, begins with a chronology and explanation of the origin of the most ancient instruments that man has known. It places emphasis on stories and legends and explores how ancient man might have constructed musical instruments, put them to use, and named them. Over the course of the program, we show the similarities of musical instruments from different continents, the types of material which were used in their construction, and more significantly, the natural phenomenon that they represented and inspired. We present the most representative musical instruments of the Mayan, Teotihuacane, Olmec, and Aztec cultures and other instruments used by descendants of these cultures today such as Huaves, Mayo-Yaquis, Tarahumara, and Huicholes.