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The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade and Musical Globalisation

For two and a half centuries, between 1564 and 1815, the Manila galleons brought luxury goods such as spices and porcelains to America in exchange for silver, fostering cultural exchanges that shaped the identities and cultures of South-East Asia, Spain, and the Spanish Americas. Along this global trade route, people and music flowed freely, making for some surprising influences and results. We present a selection of music that would have been heard at places along this journey from Madrid to Manila to Mexico. 

Music written for and favoured by Spanish monarchs of the Golden Age features heavily in our programme, such as Josquin’s chanson Mille regretz and Morales’ Missa Mille Regretz written for Emperor Charles V. Spanish-themed music also appears - the Bassadanza ‘La Spagna’ and Heinrich Isaac’s Missa La Spagna, as well as dance music from the guitar books of Gaspar Sanz and Santiago de Murcia, secular songs from the cancioneiros (song books), and harp dances from Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz’ Luz y Norte collection of 1677. Naturally, there is music on a theme of sailing and exploration: the barzeletta ‘Ayo visto lo mappamundo’, Cornago’s Missa de Mappamundi based on it.

As the Spanish Empire was a multilingual and multiethnic entity, we include works not only in European languages, but also works by native composers in Quechua and Nahuatl. 

Accompanied by period instruments such as renaissance and baroque guitars, viols, recorders, and percussion, Cappella Martialis will be pronouncing the texts as closely as possible to how they would have been performed in the 16th and 17th centuries, making for a musical time machine evening. Full texts and translations will be provided.

15 June 2024

Christ Church, Malacca

More details to follow