We are rolling right along. We’ve hit the Byzantine Greek influenced east of Europe to Catholic Latin inspired west and listened to their chants of yore. Now it is time to move from the old world to the new and from history into modernity all by listening to one album. That one album just happens to be the album of this week: Ariel Ramirez’s Misa Criolla (1963/4) which can be found in the Miscellaneous section on row A3.

If you read and remembered last week’s post, we briefly covered some of the issues dealing the evolution of just the Gregorian chants within the heartland of the Catholic church. All the rules and regulations and politics of something so basic as liturgical music was far from simple. However, all that changed with Vatican II (1961-1965).

This council made major changes to the church; perhaps the most significant being the allowance of Mass being able to be conducted in languages other than Latin. Cue Ariel.

Ariel Ramirez was born in Santa Fe, Argentina in 1921. He originally considered a career in education, but like most people ended up somewhere completely different. After only two days as a teacher, he was forced into an ‘early retirement’ due to some disciplinary problems. He then went on to study music and was interested in tango at the start but soon was enamored with Argentinian folklore and the music of the gauchos and creoles of the mountains. His studies took him to Cordoba (Argentina) and there he met the giant of Argentinian folk music, Atahualpa Yupanqui.

This meeting was life altering for him. Yupanqui spurred him to visit more of the country and this led to a strong interest and study of traditional rhythms of South America while at the same time pursuing a composition degree from the National Conservatory of Music in Buenos Ares.

Then in 1946 he made his first recording with RCA and made twenty more within them for the next decade. His works have been performed by many big names including Placido Doming and Mercedes Sosa. For the half of the 1950s he went to Europe to study classical music and upon his return to Argentina, began collecting folk, country, and pop music and founded the Compania de Folklore Ariel Ramirez. He was also elected president of the Society of Authors and Composers of the Argentine Republic from 1970-1978 and again in 1993 until his death in 2004.

So why was he such a big deal? This all goes back to the 2nd Vatican Counsel. Shortly after this counsel closed in 1965, Misa Criolla was recorded and released. This was one of the first masses in the world to be written not in Latin and to use more local and native instrumentation and rhythms.

This Misa is a mass that is written for either male or female soloists, a chorus, and traditional instruments is based on folk musical styles in the region; chacarera, carnavalito, estilo pampeano as well as incorporating Andean instruments and influence.

When completed this mass rocked the Catholic world and led Ramirez to even have a meeting with Pope Paul VI and world wide recognition. Sadly we lost Ariel 2010.

Please enjoy Misa Criolla with a healthy dose of candlelight, an 1895 Coleccion Malbec by Bodega Norton and a Vegan Curry.