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Fall is in the Air

Danny Johnson Conducts

Ah, October! My fave! Occasional hints of cooler weather, there are pumpkins at the grocery stores, there are pumpkin flavored drinks everywhere, the pumpkin bread tastes fresher, pumpkin pies are baking in the oven, and someone has at least hinted that she will bring some pumpkin beer bread to one of rehearsals this week?

Yes, in addition to ubiquitous pumpkin sightings (UPS) and it being my fave month, we have more yummy action: TEMP’s Sephardic concerts at First Presbyterian and Congregation Agudas Achim! Annette Bauer is here during her two-week hiatus from Cirque de Soleil and Peter Maund, Therese Honey, and Kit Robberson will all be arriving Thursday to join forces with all the Austin-based TEMP musicians for our first Sephardic concerts since May, 2011.

We hope to see you there!

See http://early-music.org/index.html for more info and tickets!



Danny’s Dispatch from the Amherst Early Music Festival

Greetings, TEMP-ites!

I’m in New London, CT for the Amherst Early Music Festival and, looking at the weather in Texas, I was feeling a bit guilty, what with the temperature being in the mid-70s last week and dropping at night… but it warmed up substantially for a few days and we had the same kind of rain that’s being soaking Austin. Summer has its way with us no matter where we are….

All of that takes a backseat to the energy, excitement, and profound musicality that we’ve enjoyed at the workshop. San Francisco’s Farallon Recorder Quartet (with Annette Bauer, a frequent TEMP guest artist) opened the concert series last week and charmed us all. The Baroque Academy Faculty concert was an eye-opener and ear-pleaser with some music and composers I had never heard of; knocked my socks off!

The Baroque Academy opera Der geduldige Socrates (The Patience of Socrates) by Telemann revealed a side of Telemann I had only dabbled with.  I’ve performed and taught his secular cantatas, but knew nothing about the opera.  It has some very nice arias, which were sung by some really good students. Quite fine!

Saturday was crazy with 6 concerts.  My Baroque Academy ensemble of 3 singers and continuo, hailing from Connecticut, Arizona, and Winnipeg, performed Schütz and did very well!  On the faculty concert, I performed 2 of my favorite things with some of my favorite people: “Da Jakob nu das kleid Ansah” by Senfl which I first learned as a junior in college, and “Anima mea liquefacta es” by Schütz, which has been a favorite for decades; TEMP regular Cayla Cardiff and TEMP guest Temmo Korisheli were some of the stars of the all-workshop Collegium’s performance of “Musikalische Exequien”.

The second week of concerts started with an exquisitely beautiful concert of viol and lute music, performed by Italy’s Vittorio Ghielmi and Luca Pianca. Life-changing performances of Forqueray, Marais, and others, including a sonata by Andras Lidl who was previously unknown to me.  Simply amazing.

In the midst of this are classes, rehearsals, administrative duties, and an expected lack of sleep. Still, it’s wonderful and I love it; this is my 32nd Amherst Early Music festival; I’m hoping for at least two more handfuls of them….

And, somehow at the same time, there is planning the upcoming TEMP season, working on the season brochure with TEMP Board president Wendy Brockett, who is here also, and scouting for some new guest artists to join us for concerts in Austin.

Off to the next event – more soon!

Danny Johnson Bares All!

As we work through our week of rehearsals for TEMP Goes the Full Monteverdi, I recognize a familiar bifurcated feeling:

It’s our last concert of the season, so I’m happy that we enjoyed a good season, got to work with splendid musicians performing splendid music, and seem to have pleased the audiences!

But: It’s our last concert of the season, so we won’t get to experience the excitement of concert week again for four and a half months!

But: It’s our last concert of the season, so in addition to summer workshops, I’ll be spending lots of time researching, picking music for 2012-2013, inputting the winning music into my computer (yay Sibelius!), and enjoying other music nerd things. I admit it. [n.b. Sibelius is a music editing software, not just a composer!]

So, you see, it’s a confusing time of the year! I am very much looking forward to our Monteverdi concert, though. It’s such wonderful music, exhibiting the full palette of emotional colors. It’s fun for performers and audience alike!

And speaking of fun, here are some questions that the office elf Janey submitted to me about this concert and the answers I cribbed off someone else’s paper….

>  What’s your favorite piece on the program?

There are about 10 of my very favorite pieces on this concert! “Lamento della ninfa” and “Zefiro torna” are probably in the upper tier…

>Why those?

Those were among the very first pieces of Monteverdi that really knocked my socks off when I was a sophomore in college. We performed those and others in the Collegium Musicum at Texas Tech. Unforgettable. My love affair with the passacaglia bass line of the “lamento” began immediately and hasn’t waned in all these decades!

>What pieces by Monteverdi do people know that might be on the program?  Or that might remind them of pieces on the program?

Most will probably recognize “Lamento della ninfa” and “Zefiro torna” and “Beatus vir” – but the thing that they will recognize about “Beatus vir” is that it sounds like some other piece they heard in Music Appreciation class: “Chiome d’oro”. That trickster!

>Why do a Monteverdi retrospective like this?

Partly because of Monteverdi’s ability to live in two eras, so it’s not just a concert of Renaissance madrigals or Baroque continuo songs, but is inclusive of just about every important and lasting aspect of both eras.

>What does the audience get out of it that they wouldn’t get out of a wider spread of composers?

Concerts with repertoire by a variety of composers are equally valid, of course, to represent a particular “school” of composition or national or linguistic aspects of creative art, [but] witnessing the progress and process of one genius/master/creator is a powerful experience.

We hope to see you and fifteen of your best friends at one of the two performances this weekend! Or come to both of them!

You can purchase tickets here in advance, or at the door on concert day!

Photographs by Cecily Johnson

Changes to Annual “Laurie Young Stevens and Friends” Performance

Oh my gosh, it’s February.

We’ve been preparing for our two concerts this month and now they are really upon us. Here’s a little extra info about the first of the two.

This weekend is the annual (since 2006) concert by “Laurie Young Stevens and Friends” (aka Fleurs-de LYS) with guest stars from Europe and the US. This year’s guests include German violin virtuoso Henning Vater, founder of the Göttingen Baroque Orchestra, and Dutch recorder maestro Paul Leenhouts, now director of Early Music Studies at University of North Texas in Denton.

We are very sad to announce that, due to an injury, Laurie Young Stevens will not be able to perform this weekend. She’s following doctor’s orders and giving it time to heal, but she will be at the concerts as chief MC. In her stead, prize-winning violin and viola player Veronika Vassileva, from Bulgaria and Germany will be our third special guest artist.

Austin’s stellar Jenifer Thyssen, soprano, heads up the cast of the remaining ensemble members, who come from around the US.

If you were at the concert in 2010, you might remember the encore. There’s a *chance* you could hear it again this weekend. (Here’s a hint for those who weren’t there: coming to our concert on Friday night won’t completely deprive you of hearing music by Andrea Bocelli.)



‣ Friday, February 10, 8PM, St. Mary Cathedral

‣ Sunday, February 12, 3PM, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

Friday night parking at St Mary’s: concert patrons will be able to park in the garage immediately to the south of St Mary Cathedral. Access to the garage is from San Jacinto St. Concert patrons can exit the garage for free between 9:45-10:30. After 10:30, please see Daniel Johnson for tokens.



For this & other TEMP performances

 ‣ purchase online

‣ by phone (512) 377-6961

‣ or at the door.

See you there!

See http://www.early-music.org/index.html for more concert info.


More (very) soon about our second February concert!



Q & A with Jane Leggiero

In celebration of the Christmas spirit, and in hopes of entertaining you, I posed a few questions to our performers.  What we learned from this endeavor is that TEMP has more than its fair share of amateur comedians and smarty-pantses.  Without further ado, I’ll let the performers speak for themselves.

Look for additional upcoming Q& A posts & happy holidays!

Jane Leggiero (official TEMP office elf)


What is your favorite holiday music?

Danny Johnson: Still working on that one …

Claire Daniels: It is hard to pick favorites but I don’t ever tire of Handel’s Messiah. Sorry to be cliché! This is my first Christmas with TEMP though, and I really love the music Danny has picked for us to sing.

John Walters: I like lots. I like the old classics. I like new original music if it’s good–my definition of what’s good of course!  I loved finding new arrangements of Christmas for my school orchestras to play.

Cayla Cardiff: French carols, medieval English carols, Ariel Ramirez’s “Navidad Nuestra”, and Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols.”

Meredith Ruduski: 1940s and ’50s crooner/jazzy stuff.

Scott Horton: Early 17th century like Gabrieli, Biber, etc.

Becky Baxter: The Chieftains recording entitled “The Bells Of Dublin” and that old Hershey’s Chocolate kisses TV commercial where the animated kisses are pretending to be handbells ringing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” I still get a kick out of the last little kiss saying “Whew!” because it reminds me of how I will feel at the end of December after all the gigs are over!


What is the worst holiday pop song?

Danny: “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus”

Becky: Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer

Cayla: UGH that hideous “Do They Know It’s Christmas” monstrosity.  I know they meant well but the lyrics are so pathetic.  (“Where nothing ever grows/no rain or water flows/do they know it’s Christmas time at all” – about AFRICA?!?!?  SERIOUSLY?!?!?!)

Scott: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

John: I don’t know. I’m too fast at tuning it out if I think it’s going to be bad.

Meredith: That 1980s “Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart” atrocity

Claire: I don’t really mind the Christmas pop music. However, I HATE any version of We Wish You a Merry Christmas and the 12 Days of Christmas. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any version that I liked, so why bother?

Jeffrey Jones-Ragona: Without a doubt, “Christmas Shoes.”  The first time I heard that song, I no longer believed in puppies, the laughter of children, or anything good.


How many concerts do you have during the month of December?  Does your spouse/significant other/cat remember what you look like by January 1?

Abby Green: Mid-December is finally when I have some time off.  My tour/travel/festival season is July thru December.  I hardly stop at all.  December is my light at the end of the tunnel.  I finally get to breathe and relax!

Cayla: Including school work: 10, not counting the three I’m supposed to be at but am sending a sub, and not counting church.

Claire: If I counted correctly, I will sing 10 concerts, even more than that if you count informal short concerts and short performances for school. My boyfriend is actually in LA filming a movie for almost all of December. I won’t really see him until after Christmas so I guess I’ll have to let you know…

Jeffrey:  Typically, one (different) one each weekend, and some weekends, I have had as many as three different concerts– not the same concert given three times, but three *different* repertoires/events/ensembles.  Although one year it was all Messiah– just three different orchestras, conductors and Choruses.  Of course, the weeks before are occupied with rehearsals.  It’s not unusual for December 26th to be my first full day off since Halloween or earlier.  And no, I have to get reacquainted with my cats right after Christmas.  They are definitely inquisitive and mildly distrustful when I spend an entire day at my house.  Although I spend most of that day like they do–sleeping!

John: My wife gets more than me.  [She’s in the symphony]

Meredith: Regarding pets and loved ones: after they get through the initial barking and smell my hand, they remember that I feed them and do the “recognition wag,” though my husband still acts a little weird if I make sudden moves or go around his food bowl.


You get invited to a white elephant gift exchange.  What do you bring?

Claire: A white elephant, you say?!

Meredith: A white elephant, duh! [Y’all are a bunch of literalists! – ed.]

Danny: Another white elephant? Wait, they didn’t say this was gonna be on the test.

Scott:  Silver picture frame.  [Care to explain, Scott?  Are you secretly a werewolf? – ed.]

Abby: A sleeve of saltine crackers wrapped in really pretty paper.



What’s the weirdest gift anyone ever gave you?


Danny: A paisley elephant.

Abby: I can’t think of any that stick out in my mind.  I have given many odd gifts…  my favorite this year is a fuzzy pink monster puppet.  The recipient is 30 and she is going to LOVE it.

Meredith: A box of tampons.


What do you like to do in Austin at this time of year?

 Cayla:  Shop for local stuff on South Congress!

Claire: Sing Christmas music! Especially descants!

Danny: Apparently, I like to give concerts! Oh, and I do like the weather, usually, except when it’s 80 or so….

 John: It’s family time.

 Meredith: Take allergy medicine and go on hikes!

 Scott:  Not be hot.


From pipers piping to partridges in pear trees, which of the 12 days of Christmas is your favorite and why?

Abby: FIVE GOLD RINGS!!!!  Because of Miss Piggy’s contribution in the Muppets’ Christmas album.

Claire: I hate to be a scrooge, but bah humbug! Refer to #2. [Question about the worst holiday pop song.]

Scott: The 13th day upon which I rest.

Meredith: I think “seven swans a swimming,” although I wouldn’t want to clean up after them.

Becky: Five gold rings – I’m a jewelry hound.

Cayla:   Three French hens.  I don’t know why.  They sound happy.


On a scale of 1 to 10, how much would you freak out if it snowed right now?

Abby: If by “freak out” you mean throw a temper tantrum because I’m supposed to camp next week…I’d say a level 7 freak out, and a sad face.

Becky: I’m a Texas native. Nothing in Texas weather surprises me or freaks me out. Now, finding a snake or a scorpion inside the house is a whole other story.

Cayla:   2.  I’m not easily impressed.

Scott:  -1, i.e. not at al! Snow, snow, snow!!!!!!!!

Danny: In general, I’d give it a 4.5.

Meredith: 10!!!! That would be so awesome! Especially if the snow actually stuck to the ground. =D [I think Meredith would be freaking out in the good way! –ed.]

John: I love the snow. I’ll be out making snowmen and having snowball fights.


Specifically for out-of-towners:  What do you like about coming to work with TEMP?

Becky: TEMP has quite a few ‘closet’ stand up comedians. [This questionnaire proves that pretty well! – ed.] A great sense of humor in rehearsals is a blessing when you have a lot of music material to cover in a short amount of time. Specifically what I love about coming to work with TEMP for the December concerts is that I get my annual “fix” hearing Stephanie Prewett sing “Balooloo, my lammie.” There is something exquisitely comforting about the way she sings it. At different times all through the year when I am having a tough day, the memory of her singing “Balooloo” will replay in my mind like being wrapped up in a warm blanket.

Abby: TEMP is awesome…no, really.  I get the chance to sing some amazing music with some of the most gorgeous voices I have ever heard.  Not only is the musicianship outstanding, but everyone is so NICE!  It is such an absolute honor to get to absorb some of this music and friendship even if only for a week per year.


What is your favorite thing to do when you visit Austin?

Becky: Wheatsville Co-op, Instep (best shoe store in Texas, if not the world), and Blue Moon glassworks, Austin Flameworks, and Austin Art Glass to see the cool art glass and meet the wonderful artists.

Abby: Eat cheese enchiladas, hang out with friends, drink a margarita or three.

Danny Johnson’s Takeaway: Holidays, Memories & Montserrat Figueras

December is but a few hours away so as I rush to finish this episode of the blog, I realize that I approach December, more than any other month, like a puzzle—a puzzle that provides much delight when finished properly but that is tricky to maneuver when in motion. And it’s in constant motion.

There are three Texas Early Music Project performances to rehearse and present; a variety of services and concerts at St. Mary Cathedral (including the famed “Celtic Christmas at the Cathedral”); the St. Cecilia Baroque Festival at First Presbyterian Church in which I am performing; and, if possible, I might even catch a concert presented by other friends.

As we enter the next phase of the TEMP Christmas performances (the phase in which the performers study their music in preparation for next week’s rehearsals), I can reflect on the pieces that I chose (while mentally writing the concert program notes) and think about the many pieces I opted not to include this time around. I also reflect on the performers I get to work with and the mentors who helped me get to this moment in time. One of the biggest influences on my artistic ventures passed away last week.


 Montserrat Figueras, married to viola da gamba master and conductor Jordi Savall for more than 40 years, was one of the most important figures in the “early music” movement in the 1970s and 80s. Because of her and others like her, early music hasn’t been a “movement” for quite some time; instead, it is a sophisticated, diverse, and lively art form, that transitioned from being a movement to being essential.


Montserrat, Jordi and other members of their ensemble Hesperion XX were in Austin for two weeks in the summer of 1984 for a workshop masterminded by the late Dr. Robert Snow and Dr. Douglas Kirk. It was an exhausting experience, but Jordi and Montserrat were exquisite professionals: friendly but demanding, encouraging but not too-easily swayed. The attention they gave to the students was spontaneous, human, and life-changing for more than a few of the attendees. The touching thing was that it was also important for Jordi and Montserrat: they made a few lifelong friends through that workshop. Kit Robberson took them to Barton Springs for an afternoon in preparation for the second week of classes and they bubbled for days after that.

I don’t want to dwell on these memories too much, but through that experience I became more aware of the living energy of early music, the endless sources for inspiration, and the necessity of making it available for my generation and those that follow. One of my fondest memories is going to a chamber concert Jordi and Montserrat did in Oxford in 1986 or ’87; they were so surprised and thrilled to see two Texans in the audience they had a hard time suppressing smiles while they were performing. Afterwards, we talked outside the church (I had a train to catch) and they introduced me to their daughter, Arianna, and son, Ferran, who was still a baby. Arianna and Ferran are now both respected performers in Europe. It is difficult not to see or hear Montserrat in their timbres and gestures; in fact, it is reassuring.

Thank you, Montserrat.

And thank you for following along here—I hope to see you at our Christmas concerts! See early-music.org  for more info or just look at our blogspace here at texasearlymusic.wordpress.com.



TEMP’s Upcoming Performance — Yule, Britannia! Christmas Music in the British Isles

When imagining the Christmas season in Britain, scenes of Victorian period sleigh rides, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Ghosts of Christmas probably dance through your head. But the Texas Early Music Project will celebrate wonderful earlier Christmas traditions in Britannia with a sequence of music from the late Medieval period through the 19th century. From haunting Medieval carols and English psalm-tunes to traditional Irish dances and Celtic lullabies, TEMP puts its unique stamp on these beautiful and joyful selections with innovative arrangements for solo voices, small chorus, harps, violin, flute, and mandolin.

Among the Medieval pieces on the concert, TEMP will feature the well-loved “Ther is no rose of swych virtu” and also a lesser-known gem “Lullay, lullay: Als I lay on Yoolis night” with Scottish provenance, (although its source is from Cambridge University), and a hauntingly beautiful melody and story. The Christ-child, as a baby, asks his mother why she doesn’t sing to him as she rocks him and why she doesn’t tell him what his life will be like when he is older. Her response is that she knows very little about him except what Gabriel told her. The dialogue is bookended by a narrator who relays what she saw on that Yule night.

The Renaissance portion of the concert will feature a rousing psalm-tune, “While shepherds watched their flocks by night,” the 16th century predecessor of Handel’s popular setting, as well as the very popular “Good people all, this Christmastime” (“The Wexford Carol”), arranged for solo voice, strings, and flute.

The English traditional music and Celtic music will include a few favorites from past years, such as “Baloloo my lammie,” and “Ye Sons of Men.” Newly arranged pieces include a lively instrumental by the 17th century Irish harpist Turlough O’Carolan, (“The O’Rourkes Christmas”) for plucked and bowed strings and an Irish traditional song, “The seven rejoices of Mary” for solo voices and instruments. Throughout the years, the English traditional song “Drive the cold winter away” maintained its popularity and will be featured for the first time in a TEMP concert.

TEMP is pleased that Abby Green, a specialist in Gaelic songs, will be joining as a soloist and ensemble member, and TEMP again is proud to feature nationally acclaimed historical harpists, Therese Honey and Becky Baxter. Featured soloists include Jenifer Thyssen, Stephanie Prewitt, Meredith Ruduski, Abby Green, Cayla Cardiff, Jeffrey Jones Ragona, Daniel Johnson, Paul D’Arcy, and Chaz Nailor.


Join Texas Early Music Project for a splendid evening of music encompassing 500 years of festive beauty that will delight your ears and heart!


of Yule, Britannia! Christmas Music in the British Isles



for Yule, Britannia! Christmas Music in the British Isles & other TEMP performances

 – Last chance to get discounted Partial Season Subscriptions! –

‣ purchase online

‣ by phone (512) 377-6961

‣ or at the door.

See you there!

TEMP’s Upcoming Performance — They Might Be Giants: Josquin and the Renaissance

Renaissance polyphony can be sublime, suspenseful, moving, and exhilarating! We hear the interweaving voices, the imitative entrances, the artfully prepared dissonance along with the excruciating sweetness of the resolution, and we simply know we are listening to the music for a master who could control the notes, rather than the other way around. Texas Early Music Project’s upcoming concert of music by Josquin des Prez and three of his Franco-Flemish colleagues will display the skill, precision, imagination, and variety available from the best of the generation of composers who lived from c.1440-c.1520 and who set the standards for future composers.

Josquin, the most renowned composer of his day, was really a giant among giants. This concert will immerse listeners in the music of Josquin and three of his Lowlands contemporaries: Antoine Brumel, Loyset Compère, and Pierre de la Rue.  Each of these composers, including Josquin, was named in Jean Molinet’s famous ode “Nymphes des bois,” written after the death of Johannes Ockeghem, their musical father, and each of these magnificent composers contributed his own unique vision to the sacred and secular repertories of the day. Josquin, Compère, and Brumel worked for courts and cathedrals in France and Italy and influenced the next generations of composers all over Europe. Pierre de la Rue lived and worked mostly in Burgundy (now Belgium) where he continued in the footsteps of his predecessors Dufay and Busnois at the Grande chapelle, the musical establishment of the Burgundian-Habsburg court.

Among the featured pieces are some of Josquin’s standouts, including “Nymphes des bois,” and two pieces from the beginning and the end of his career. Beautifully transparent and emulating some of the techniques of earlier composers, TEMP will feature the much-loved “Ave Maria” from the beginning of his career. “Missa Pange lingua,” composed during the last few years of his life, exhibits the powers of a composer who has nothing to prove. Rather than exhibiting new skills, Josquin went deeper and composed with calm mystery, especially in the “Agnus Dei,” which ends the concert. One of the most unique masses composed during the Renaissance was Brumel’s “Earthquake Mass” (“Missa Et ecce terrae motus”) for 12 voice parts.  The Gloria of the mass is perhaps the most celebrated movement and TEMP is excited to bring the splendid and exciting music to the Austin community!

TEMP founding member Christopher LeCluyse will return to perform in this concert. A small chamber choir of 12 voices will perform some of the most splendid a cappella motets and mass movements by the featured composers and will feature some of the best voices in Austin. A trio of viols will present lively secular pieces and solo lute will perform intabulations of sacred and secular music of these Renaissance titans.


They Might Be Giants: Josquin and the Renaissance



for They Might Be Giants & other TEMP performances

‣ purchase online

‣ by phone (512) 377-6961

‣ or at the door.

See you there!

You’ve Never Heard This in Texas

On September 17 & 18,  Tom Zajac and the Texas Early Music Project explored music from the New World: 17th & 18th century selections from Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico.

Make sure not to miss the next performance!

They Might Be Giants: Josquin and the Renaissance

Josquin des Prez was the most renowned composer of his day but he was really just a giant among giants. In this concert we will immerse ourselves in the music of Josquin and three of his Lowlands contemporaries: Brumel, Compère, and Pierre de la Rue, who were mentioned in the famous ode upon the death of Okeghem, their musical father. Each of these magnificent composers contributed a unique voice to the sacred and secular repertoires of the day. A small chamber choir, viols, and lute will perform the music of these titans.

Danny Johnson’s Take on ‘El Mundo Nuevo’

Listen to Danny Johnson, founder and artistic director of the Texas Early Music Project, describe the music that TEMP will perform in the upcoming El Mundo Nuevo: 18th Century Music from Latin America.  In this interview with Sara Hessel, Danny explains how this groundbreaking project—with pieces that have never before been played in Texas—came about with guest director Tom Zajac.


This 6 minute, 11 second clip originally aired on KMFA’s Ancient Voices on September 11, 2011.



for El Mundo Nuevo & other TEMP performances

‣ purchase online,
‣ by phone (512) 377-6961,
‣ or at the door.

See you there!



El Mundo Nuevo: 18th Century Music from Latin America

‣ Saturday, September 17, 8 PM, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

‣ Sunday, September 18, 3 PM, First Presbyterian Church

In collaboration with early music luminary and virtuoso performer Tom Zajac, TEMP explores music from the New World: 17th & 18th century selections from Peru, Bolivia, and Mexico. The color, flavor, and joy of the music from the Trujillo del Peru manuscript are dynamic and exotic. A small vocal ensemble, string trio, guitars, and percussionists will perform selections for Christmas Eve in Trujillo, dances from the jungles, music in the extinct language of Mochica, and motets from the cathedral of Mexico City.