By Angelina Jahn
Grand Rapids Community College’s choral students will be honoring Latin American culture with a concert celebrating Dia de los Muertos Friday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at St. Cecilia Music Center.
Originating in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos, meaning “Day of the Dead,” is a two day holiday that spans from Nov. 1-2 and celebrates the life of deceased loved ones. The first day focuses on children that have died while the second day focuses on adults. The holiday is often celebrated with parties including food, drinks and offerings to those that have died.
The GRCC Choir will be performing songs in Nahuatl, the native language of Mexico, Quechua, the native language of Peru and Castilian Spanish.
“The classical vocal music is an exceptionally beautiful body of creative work that spans a dazzling array of languages and expressive topics,” stated Director of Choral and Vocal Activities Caleb Wenzel. “It’s also a very influential body of music in the broader world of American classical music. Aaron Copland, probably the most well-known American composer, cited the music of Mexico as one of the most important influences on his “Americana” sound. So, we are performing this program first because it is just fantastic music.
“It deserves to be regularly performed and known among classical musicians, music school students, and the broader music-loving community,” he continued. “By specifically celebrating Latin American music, we have a chance to challenge stereotypes about Latin American music as well as raise an awareness of the vibrant musical life that comes from across the vast American continents!”
“In future concerts, I will be programing Latin American music alongside the already well-known canon of choral literature, which is where this repertoire rightly belongs,” Wenzel said.
In between these performances, there will be readings of poetry and short stories, in both English and Spanish.
Primarily, the reading selections have been chosen from the works of Sandra Cisneros. Cisneros is best known for her novel “The House on Mango Street,” which explores the realities of a Mexican-American girl growing up in Chicago. She has gone on to write many novels, poems and short stories in both English and Spanish, resulting in her receiving the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.
Tickets for this event are available here. Current GRCC and Grand Rapids Public Schools students that present a valid school ID are able to attend free of charge. Masks will be required for the duration of this event. The St. Cecilia Music Center is located in downtown Grand Rapids at 24 Ransom Ave NE.