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Pedro Ximénez Abril y Tirado (1784-1856) was one of Latin America’s most successful and prolific composers of the early 19th century. His work spanned the critical period of the establishment of independent Latin American states in the period after the end of the Spanish Empire. Known at the time as “El sinfonista de los andes”, he learned his craft during colonial years, but was able to contribute to the body of early postcolonial repertoire.   

In the 20th century, his work fell from view. It is only now, with the greater interest in postcolonial studies and the rehabilitation of indigenous musics, that his work has begun to receive scholarly and artistic attention. His work exemplifies the cosmopolitanism and cultural mobility that was an important strand in the establishment of a distinct Latin American cultural life. At the peak of his career, he occupied a prestigious position as director of music at Sucre Cathedral, the most important cultural and religious city of the newly created state of Bolivia.  

Pedro Ximénez exemplifies the cultural syncretism that has been a prevailing feature of Latin American music at many historical junctures. At a time when the impetus to de-privilege the European classical canon grows ever stronger, Ximénez is a neglected composer of the highest quality whose works deserve wide contemporary exposure and integration into the corpus of established art songs.  

This online seminar will be the launch event for a project at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama to make the first professional recordings, public concerts, and performing edition of a selection of Tirado’s songs from the several hundred manuscripts held in the National Library of Bolivia, Sucre. In addition to introducing the project, it will present first example recordings of two contrasting songs.   

It will include the following panellists (bios here):  

Rafael Montero (tenor and project leader)  

Nigel Foster (keyboard player) 

Dr José Manuel Izquierdo König (musicologist and author of doctoral dissertation on Tirado)  

Juan Conrado Quinquiví Morón (musician and transcriber of the songs) 

Professor Sir Barry Ife (scholar of Hispanic culture and music)  

Chair: Dr David Irving (ICREA Research Professor at Institució Milà i Fontanals (CSIC-IMF), Barcelona, Spain)  

Seminar convened by Professor John Sloboda (Guildhall School of Music & Drama) and introduced by Professor Linda Newson (Institute of Latin American Studies)

This will be a free online seminar, hosted on Zoom (book to receive the link). It will not be recorded, but a written summary of the main issues raised during the seminar will be circulated afterwards.  

This event is co-hosted by the Institute of Modern Languages Research and the Institute of Latin American Studies, and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. It is part of the Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community, Translingual Strand
Image: A fragment of "The last years of Ximénez" by Rafael Ramirez (CC BY-SA 4.0)