Spanish Music Lost for More Than 200 Years Will Be Featured in Colorful Concert at Pope Chapel

CNU students will join musicians on stage for historic performance.

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Discovered by a Christopher Newport professor in a forgotten file in a Spanish library, music from an 18th-century play will be performed in a free concert at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 6, at Pope Chapel.

This will be the first performance in over 200 years of “Al feliz natalicio,” (“Praise to the fortunate birth”).

Dr. Sarah Finley found the manuscript theater score that is considered rare and significant because it features fragments from a poem by Mexican nun Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. She is one of the most important writers of the Hispanic Baroque and celebrated today for her stalwart defense of women’s intellectual rights. She wrote numerous lyrics set to music but scholars such as Finley have only managed to uncover nine of her musico-poetic works.

“This concert will be entertaining and fun even if it sounds heavy and historical,” Finley says. “Attending a play in Spain in the 1700s was like going to the movies. Everybody did it, and this concert will capture what that was like.”

The music will be performed by members of the Piedmont Singers of Central Virginia and members of The Governor’s Musick, a Colonial Williamsburg ensemble. Musicians will play instruments similar to those of the period and CNU Spanish majors will join the musicians on stage to re-enact the colorful practices of an 18th-century Madrid playhouse.

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