Last updateFri, 19 Aug 2016 9am

Famed Mexican curandera inspires new musical work

For a unique musical experience head over to the Casa Museo Lopez Cotilla on Tuesday, August 23 for a free concert featuring local U.S. mezzosoprano Kimball Wheeler singing a world premiere piece inspired by legendary Mazatec curandera (native healer) Maria Sabina.

The author of the work, 35-year-old Tapatio Demian Galindo, says he wrote the piece after reading about the 1962 expedition organized by Gordon Wasson to research Sabina, as well as the book by Alvaro Estrada, a fellow Mazatec, who recorded her life and work and translated her chants.  

Galindo says as a starting point he took an extract from one of Sabina’s chants, working “phonetically” because he doesn’t speak Mazatec.

The length of his work, titled “Bi”, is dependent on the audience, who are encouraged to participate, adding “humming around the singer,” he says. “It’s important to establish an environment for the mezzosoprano to sing.”

Galindo hopes to read a text prior to the premiere of his piece, explaining something of Sabina and her impact. 

Known for her healing powers through the use of the various species of native “magic” mushrooms, Sabina gained international attention in the 1960s after celebrities and rock stars visited her home in the Sierra Mazateca of southern Mexico.

Galindo, a bass player, says he is dedicating the piece to Wheeler, who has been a “close  friend” and helped him considerably with his career.

As part of his master’s degree in arts, which he hopes to finish this year, Galindo is working on another piece based on the festivities of the Huicholes and their use of peyote. He has spent time in the Jalisco Sierra Madre and will present the project as his degree thesis.

For next week’s concert, Wheeler will be joined by Spanish pianist Javier Vazquez Grela and Ecuadorian cellist Orlando Idrovo. As well as “Bi” they will interpret Con che soavita by Monteverdi, Che faro senza Euridice? by Gluck, Where shall I fly? (Hercules) by G.F. Handel, Solo un Pianto (Medea) by Cherubini, Dido’s Lament by Purcell.

The concert starts at 8 p.m. The Casa Museo Lopez Portillo is in the Guadalajara historic center, at Liceo 177, corner of San Felipe. Free entrance.

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