Ave Maria is a universal greeting of respect and recognition of spiritual powers that tap into realms of unity, oneness and inter-connectedness. In these realms, body and mind reconnect to higher frequencies, where, just like in music, the soul is allowed a meditative rite of passage to enter a higher state of consciousness. Caccini’s Ave Maria, has traveled the world with me and is connected to a myriad of memories. Memories such as performing at the remote mission of San Borja, in the middle of the Sonoran desert in Mexico’s Baja California, or performing at a Christmas concert in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Caccini’s Ave Maria also brings back memories of performing at numerous weddings and funerals in beautiful old churches in Europe, the US, and last but not least at a celebration of life for a dear friend in San Diego, California.
“Two Hundred Years later – Sacred Music at Mission of San Borja”
– Dutch Mezzo-Soprano Christel Veraart offered an Angelical Concert in the Central Desert
When the Jesuit missionaries established the missions of old California, one of their fundamental intentions was to develop in the Indians a taste for the arts, including Music. Thus several of the missionaries formed choirs of sacred music, with indigenous voices, mainly with the cochimí of the central region of the peninsula. The most famous choir was the one of the mission at Mulegé, thanks to one of its missionaries who had a strong interest in music. According to some missionaries, the indigenous Californians had an interest and talent for the sacred song, and after some music education their voices sounded wonderful. The return to the sacred With the departure of the Jesuits in 1768, the indigenous choirs of sacred music practically disappeared. More then two hundred years had to pass until this sacred music , in the form of a perfectly trained voice, would return to the missions. This historic event took place last Sunday on March the 18th at the mission of San Francisco de Borja Adac, thanks to the mezzo-soprano Christel Veraart.
(Translation by Christel Veraart of an article written by Carlos Lazcano, journalist for “El Vigia”, Ensenada and writer of numerous books on Baja California, Mexico)
Another precious memory of this particular Ave Maria is the one of performing at Brazil’s Convento do Carmo in Angra dos Reis. It was during an important celebration of some kind that was being filmed and the church was packed with hundreds of people. A little four year old girl I knew escaped the pews in mid performance, recognizing me from many play dates we had on nearby beaches, and just wanted to connect. For lack of a better solution in mid performance, I stretched out my hand and held Yuyu’s hand until the song ended.
This famous version of Ave Maria is often credited to Giulio Caccini, a sixteenth century composer from Florence. However, it was not known to exist before 1970, when an obscure Russian composer, Vladimir Vavilov, recorded it anonymously in 1972 . It was later attributed to Caccini, although no one really knows its true origin. Since then, it has been included in almost every classical crossover singer’s repertoire.