It was around Thanksgiving 2005 that I first visited Bahia de Los Angeles. Mission San Borja, up in the San Borja mountains and surrounded by its original orchards with hot springs from its founding days. I heard about Indian rock art nearby, about lava-strewn hillsides, and the pristine beauty and serenity of this remote place, founded by the Jesuit Wenceslaus Linck.
These stories were too intriguing to leave without checking so, Thanksgiving 2005 was spent at “San Francisco de Borja Adac” (which turned out to be the mission’s full name). “San Francisco”, named after St. Francis of Assisi, lover of all creation, champion of justice, patron saint of animals and the environment. “Borja” because of the endowment by a wealthy Italian noblewoman, Maria de Borja, who funded the foundation and building. “Adac”, the name given to this place by the native Cochimi whose place it was before Europeans arrived.
Born and raised in The Netherlands but having lived in the US since 2001 might explain my craving for buildings that take you back to times long gone but hard to find at this side of the world. San Borja definitely fed into that need and I felt myself dreaming about singing up there.
On the way back into Bahia de Los Angeles I mention my plans to an Italian from Rome, who now lives in Mexico permanently with his family. As true Roman, who craves culture, his reactions to the concert plans are enthusiastic and encouraging. He suggests talking to Father Gabriel, who according to him is from Rome too. At least that is the way I understood it. When I meet this priest, months later in his hometown with the beautifully fitting name “Jesus Maria” and I complement him on his perfect Spanish, all I get is an astonished look. Father Gabriel was born and raised in Mexico. Oh well…
Father Gabriel serves espresso while we talk about the possibility of organizing a concert, or even a string of concerts at all the missions of Baja California. Since 2005 I have visited Bahia de Los Angeles numerous times and have met so many wonderful and interesting people. Every time we go back people ask us about the concert at San Borja and when it will be happening. A lot of times they are people I have never met before. The rumor has spread and the rest is history.
The Concert that lead to Musica Sacra
After many months of planning and preparation, a concert took place on Sunday, March 18th, 2007.
Sung in Latin, Spanish, German and English, the music was composed both in the Old and New World. For this benefit concert, the mission was filled with people from all over Baja California and the US, and all donations went toward the restoration of the beautiful mission of San Borja. The idea for this concert was to bring music to places of beauty and inspiration, and resulted in the recording of Musica Sacra.