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The poems of Saint Teresa of Ávila made into songs

2015-05-02

Saint Teresa of Ávila turned her poems into melodies to help bring as many people as possible closer to God. She used music that was popular during her time, changed the words, and inserted her own verses. 

Five hundred years later, the mezzo-soprano and researcher Sonnia Rivas has reversed the process. She found that almost forgotten music and has used the poems of Saint Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross and Anne of Saint Bartholomew to turn them into songs. The result is this.

SONNIA L. RIVAS
Mezzo-soprano
"I laid out the words and what I did was narrow them geographically and by the times which Saint Teresa could have heard them. From there, I used hundreds and hundreds of melodies to find the first tune, which was "'Colloquium of Love.'”

That first song also became the title of the first album, which was released in 2003. The project was a resounding success. It was even nominated for a Grammy for classical music. However, another honor was hard to forget.

SONNIA L. RIVAS
Mezzo-soprano
"We met the Papal Nuncio in Madrid and he suggested the possibility of me presenting the album to His Holiness, John Paul II. It was quite exciting to meet him and have the chance to sing a capella for him.”

Melodies, texts and instruments from the sixteenth century. Another one of the stars from the recital is the vielle, an instrument from the same family as the guitar, which was popular in Spain at the time.

JESÚS SÁNCHEZ
Vielle player
"It's a delight to play this instrument and accompany the voice. This instrument was created to go with singing mainly. It is one of its most important functions.”

Mystical music, along with walls of stone at a Spanish church in Rome, make the teachings of the saint resonate stronger than ever.


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