Creole mass


Creole Mass and Our Christmas. Symphonic Version

Latin American folklore and its influence on classical music

Latin American contemporary music is one of the most influenced by the roots of popular folklore.

This influence was exerted mainly by the characteristic dances: the huayno, the Peruvian waltz and tonderos in Peru; Joropo in Venezuela, the old men dance and the Son in Mexico, the Habanera, Rumba and Danzón in Cuba, the Carnavalito in Bolivia; the Chôro and the Samba in Brazil, the Candombe; Tango and Milonga in Uruguay and the chacarera; the zamba, the cueca and the Malambo together with the Tango and Milonga in Argentina.

The vast majority of Latin American composers of the 20th century have taken advantage of this influence by paying tribute to the music of their native land, enriching harmonic elements, counterpoint and orchestration of Western-European classical music.

There are many works that could exemplify the use of contemporary popular music in the art music of Latin America, but in this case we will only cite some examples of the three composers that make up the so-called “basic triangle”, namely:
Carlos Chávez (Mexico) : Antigone Symphony and the Indian Symphony.
Heitor Villa Lobos (Brazil): Brazilian Choros and Bachianas.
Alberto Ginastera (Argentina): ballet Estancia, Fausto Criollo Overture, Ballet Panambí; Argentine dances for piano.

Having said this by way of introduction, we refer to the work that deals with the following project.

Creole Mass and Our Christmas by Ariel Ramírez

The Misa Criolla together with Navidad Nuestra by Ariel Ramírez is the most famous work of sacred-popular extraction represented in the world.
Since its world premiere (Germany 1967), its popularity and success have grown steadily.

It was declared a universal religious interest under the pontificate of Paul VI.
The work (originally written for piano, harpsichord, charango, percussion instruments and Andean aerophones, mixed choir and tenor soloist) was written as a tribute to two nuns encountered by Maestro Ramírez during his stay in Würzburg (Germany) in 1950; Elizabeth and Regina Bruckner.

The Misa Criolla was sung and recorded by many of the greatest lyrical tenors and the great voices of popular music, such as José Carreras; Placido Domingo; The Borders; Mercedes Sosa and Chabuca Granda, among others.
This project aims to spread the work in its symphonic version, written by maestro Daniel Pacitti and for the first time authorized by Warner Chappell-Argentina.

Author’s notes

It is a score for a large orchestra, which on the one hand justifies an orchestration different from that used by the traditional formations that generally perform it, and on the other hand, allows the performance of the work in other contexts, expanding the scope of its dissemination. .

I have limited myself to orchestrating the authentic score of Maestro Ramírez in a philological way, carefully respecting his writing (at least that was my intention) dedicating myself devotedly to the analysis of the Maestro’s piano studies, his music and arrangements, his style and character, within my possibilities.

If you think that percussions have never been written in this way, I have studied Maestro Domingo Cura and many others to put this inexhaustible heritage on paper.
Even the work on the two harps is innovative.

I have had to add an introduction, small intermediate quotations to give the instrumentalists and the voices breathing space, as is customary in symphonic masses (usually the groups that accompany the Creole Mass improvise them).

At some points I have had to do some re-harmonization (naturally without playing a note of the choir), since in the versions with a folkloric ensemble they play with the rhythms and touches, while giving that dimension with a symphonic is not very effective and falls into the monotonous.
Daniel Paciti.


Pacitti’s orchestration gives the large stable orchestral groups the possibility of inserting the Misa Criolla and Navidad Nuestra into their own repertoires, as well as allowing important choirs to perform the works in theaters and auditoriums during the normal artistic season.

Consider that the choir and soloist parts are identical to Ramírez’s originals, so many choirs and soloists already have them in their repertoire.

The works, given their popularity, are presented with this new organic, to be performed on theater stages, open-air concerts, arenas, etc. that is, it can be included in summer festivals or in extraordinary concerts outside the season.

The version for large orchestra would have only one extraordinary musician, who plays guitar, charango and ronroco; and certainly Tenor Voice Soloist (or Popular Voice) and Director.

So, if the artistic direction of a stable orchestra decided to make this program, as an extraordinary expense it would only have:

  • a musician (who plays guitar, charango and ronroco)
  • the solo voice (which can be a lyrical tenor or a popular singer)
  • the music director.

Dedicated to Peace and Pope FRANCIS I
BUDAPEST December 2013

On December 7, in the prestigious “Bela Bartok” Hall of the Budapest Palace of Arts, 400 voices (including 180 children) held a concert dedicated to world peace and Pope Francis I.

Presented during the Advent period, the aforementioned concert was tinged with unprecedented intercultural elements, such as the Misa Criolla and Navidad Nuestra, by the Argentine composer (born in the province of Santa Fé in 1921) Ariel Ramírez.
The novelty lies in the fact that these works were performed – for the first time – in two versions for a large symphony orchestra performed by the Argentine musician, also from Santa Fe, Daniel Pacitti.

The second part of the concert, dedicated precisely to the music of South America, was in honor of Pope Francis I. Music as a universal language; vehicle of emotion and spiritual elevation, it unites peoples in solidarity, fraternity and peace in a moment as sacred as Christmas.

  • Director: Balàzs Kocsár.
  • Tenor: István Horváth tenor
  • Barítone: Zoltán Bátki Fazekas
  • Piano: Dénes Harmath
  • Charango, ronroco, guitars: Amilcar Rafael Soto Rodríguez

Message of thanks from Mrs. Inés Cuello de Ramírez:

… Dear Daniel, I have no words to express the moment of emotion that I have just lived, reading your mail. I confess that even while I write to you I cannot avoid the tears…
I was in Budapest in September last year, and we also visited Brasov, Sibiú, Cluj Napoca, getting to know that wonderful country and better people… So this news goes straight to my heart.
I am very happy for his success and I hope to meet him personally to hug him, as he deserves.
With love, Inés Neck Ramírez.

Comment from the Charge d’Affaires a.i. Argentine Embassy in Hungary:

Last Saturday, December 7, in one of the most prestigious European venues, the famous Bela Bartok hall in Budapest, the Zuglo Philharmonic Orchestra -with the baton of Balazs Kocsár- presented the “Misa Criolla” by Ariel Ramírez in a symphonic version of the also Argentine Daniel Pacitti.

Five choral groups merged to reach a mass of 415 coreutas.
On the debut night the soloists were: Istvàn Horvath (tenor); Zoltan Barki Fazekas (baritone); Zsuzsa Szaloky (piano); Amílcar Soto Rodríguez (charango, ronroco and guitar).

The Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramírez is probably the most famous work of sacred-popular extraction today. Since its world premiere (Düsseldorf, 1964), its popularity and success have grown steadily. Every Advent it is performed, often together with “Navidad Nuestra” –by the same composer-, in dozens of European cities.

The cultured Hungarian public was captivated by the beauty of a great work.
His diaphanous harmonies that reflect the immense aridity of Argentine and South American lands are mixed with rhythms as new as they are contagious (masterfully understood by the five percussionists of the orchestra) enthralled the listeners from the first chord.
A separate paragraph for the excellent work of the soloists Horvath and Barki (tenor and baritone respectively) and the great choral mass that sang with an admirable precision of pitch and diction.

Pacitti’s work is much more than a mere transcription.
His orchestrations and developments are inspired by the thematic material of Ramírez’s original work.

This new orchestration manages to give these two great creations of popular music a legitimate boost, opening the doors of the repertoire of the great symphony orchestras.

At the end of “Navidad Nuestra” the public gave a long ovation to the Argentine composer present in the room.

These works will be presented in various cities in Hungary in the coming years, including a massive open-air concert.

Claudio Giacomino