Javier Marín López, Professor of Music at Universidad de Jaén (Spain)

“Rites of Power: Ideologies and Politics in the Polyphony of Viceregal New Spain”

Co-sponsored by the Program in Latin American Studies and the Department of Religion

Tuesday, March 26

4:30pm, 216 Burr Hall


From the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, Latin sacred polyphony was the norm in Spanish and Portuguese cathedrals, parish churches and missions of the New World.  Following Iberian models, but adapted to a new context, music chapels of every type, size, and condition were established and endowed with polyphonic choirbooks, which were used to provide splendor and “decency” to the cult.  However, what was different in the Indies was the surprising proliferation of these ensembles and the continuity in performance of the repertory until the nineteenth century, crossing aesthetic, technical, and functional frontiers in a cultural, racial, and social context quite different from its European counterpart. The practice of Renaissance Latin polyphony—a means of representing royal and papal power in Europe—acquired nuance in the new territories: not just an ornament of the church, it became part of the musical and cultural canon that colonizers tried to impose.  A powerful ideological tool and a symbol of prestige and status in front of the native cultures which hadn’t developed a written polyphonic musical tradition.  In this presentation I will explore some of these issues through the polyphonic collection of Mexico City Cathedral, the biggest of the Americas, whose comprehensive study and critical catalogue has been recently completed.


Musicologist, professor and music festival manager. Born in Úbeda (Jaén) in 1977. He completed his musical studies in the Úbeda, Jaén and Granada conservatoires, and his musicological ones in the last city, where he obtained his PhD in 2007 (Cum laude, European Doctorate) with a thesis on the musical relations between Spain and the New World through Mexico Cathedral during the colonial period: “Music and Musicians Between Two Worlds. Mexico City Cathedral and Its Polyphonic Choirbooks (XVIth–XVIIIth centuries)” (3 vols.).

He has received fellowships of the Consejería de Cultura of Junta de Andalucía, Ministries of Education, Foreing Affairs and Innovation of Spain, Secretary of Foreign Relations of Mexico and Caja Madrid Foundation. He has published articles in journals such as Historia Mexicana, Sacred music, Heterofonía, Early Music, Música y Educación, Revista de Musicología and Eufonía, among others, as well as several chapter books in collected monographs edited by La Rioja, Granada, UNAM and Cambridge universities presses. Nowdays, he is writing a book on the vernacular repertoire of Peninsular origin in the Collegiate Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Besides, his two-volumen study and catalogue of the music books of Mexico Cathedral has recently been coedited by the Sociedad Española de Musicología and Universidad de Jaen Press.

Dr. Marín has completed several research stays in Mexico (Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa and Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información Musical “Carlos Chávez” of Mexico City) and, as Visiting Scholar, in the cities of Cambridge, UK (University of Cambridge, Faculty of Music, 2006), Dublin (Trinity College, 2008) and Chicago (Northwestern University, 2010). Recently, he has presented his work in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, United States, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and United Kindgom, apart from Mexico and Spain. He is artistic director of the Festival de Música Antigua de Úbeda y Baeza, which has been turned into a space to transfer of musicologicqal research specialized on the recovery of the musical heritage of Spain and Latin America. From the festival the cooperation among musicologists, researchers, and performers is promoted through the preparation of new programmes and recordings of ineditous repertoires. He is part of two I+D+i research projects of the Spanish Government and he is member of the Spanish Association of Americanists, Spanish Musicological Society -being vocal of the Governing Board since February 2011-, American Musicological Society, and International Musicological Society.

Recently he received the 2010 Latin American Musicology Award “Samuel Claro Valdés” from the Instituto de Música of the Catholic University of Chile.

Personal website http://www4.ujaen.es/~marin/


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