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MP3 Christel Veraart - Musica Sacra

Composed of eleven resonant interpretations of beloved sacred arias, primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries.

11 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Arias, SPIRITUAL: Praise & Worship

Show all album songs: Musica Sacra Songs

Born in Bergen, The Netherlands. From 1983 to 1991 she studied music at “The Maastricht Conservatory of Music” in the Netherlands, and the “Conservatorio Nacional Lopez Buchardo” in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After receiving her degree, her main focus became voice, studying with Gemma Visser (Eysden, The Netherlands), Wendy Eathorne of Trinity College (London, UK), and Ada Matus (Paris, France). Christel has since performed numerous concerts in The Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, and the U.S. In 1996 she and pianist Judith Wijs recorded the CD “Terra Incognita”, which contains songs based on folklore music from both Brazil and Argentina.

After a successful concert at Baja Californians Mission “San Francisco de Borja Adac”, on March 18, 2007 near Bahia de Los Angeles (Baja California, Mexico) the idea of recording this CD was formed. “Musica Sacra” consists of carefully selected repertory from the time the Baja Californian missions were founded and built. Music that was composed in the Old as well as in the New World, such as an Ave Maria by Charles Gounod and “Ya la naturaleza redimida” by Manuel de Sumaya, is included in the program. Repertory is sung in Latin, Spanish, German and English. Recordings were done at the Carmelite Monastery of San Diego.

How it all came about:
Announcement of the concert at “San Francisco de Borja Adac” on March 18, 2007

It was around Thanksgiving 2005 that we first visited in Bahia de Los Angeles. It was there that I first heard of Mission “San Borja”, up in the San Borja mountains and surrounded by its original orchards with hot springs from the founding days. We heard about Indian rock art nearby, about lava-strewn hillsides, and the pristine beauty and serenity of this remote place founded by the Jesuit Father Wenceslaus Linck in 1762.

These stories were too intriguing to leave without checking so, Thanksgiving 2005 was spent at “San Francisco de Borja Adac” (which turned out to be the mission’s full name). “San Francisco”, named after St. Francis of Assisi, lover of all creation, champion of justice, patron saint of animals and the environment. “Borja” because of the endowment by a wealthy Italian noblewoman, Maria de Borja, who funded the foundation and building. “Adac”, being the name given to this place by the native Cochimi whose place it was before Europeans arrived.

I am a classical singer and pianist, trained in The Netherlands, France and England but also in South America and my journeys have taken me to many a stage to perform. Never though will I cease to be amazed by the power which nature’s beauty or the serenity of a place have over me. Which explains why, as long as I can remember, I feel the urge to make music whenever touched by it. Sometimes that beauty is so overwhelming that singing a song seems to be the only appropriate response. Like one day, years ago now, while walking the famous pilgrim’s path to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. After a long and strenuous day of walking I remember arriving, at this beautiful ninth century chapel, tucked away high up into the mountains. One step inside was all I needed to be convinced a song wanted to be shared here. Maybe it is a sense of sharing, evoked by not only nature’s beauty but by the wisdom embraced by it. There is a soothing quality in spaces like that. The knowledge that nature has seen it all and won’t be surprised or judge anything that I will add.

Born and raised in The Netherlands but having lived in the US since 2001 might explain my craving for buildings that take you back to times long gone but hard to find at this side of the world. San Borja definitely feeds into that need and I felt myself dreaming about singing up there. Sacred music, well known to most of us, but maybe not to people up there. An idea is formed.

On the way back into Bahia de Los Angeles I mention my plans to an Italian from Rome, who now lives in Mexico permanently with his family. As true Roman, who craves culture, his reactions to the concert plans are enthusiastic and encouraging. He suggests talking to Father Gabriel. I met this priest, months later in his hometown with the beautifully fitting name “Jesus Maria”. Father Gabriel serves us espresso while we talk about the possibility of organizing a concert, or even a string of concerts at all the missions of Baja California.

Since 2005 we have visited Bahia de Los Angeles numerous times. Every time we go back people ask us about the concert at San Borja and when it will be happening. A lot of times they are people I have never met before. The rumor has spread.

After many months of talking with Father Gabriel the concert is finally scheduled for Sunday March 18th , 2007, at 2 pm. The program of this Sacred Music Concert consists of carefully selected repertory from the time the Baja Californian missions were founded and built. Music that was composed in the Old as well as in the New World, such as an Ave Maria by Charles Gounod and “Ya la naturaleza redimida” by Manuel de Sumaya, is included in the program. Repertory will be sung in Latin, Spanish, German and English. This is a benefit concert, sponsored by Comanji A.C. and all donations will go towards the restoration of the beautiful mission of San Borja. The idea behind it all is to bring music to places of beauty and inspiration.

What happened next:
Article written by Carlos Lazcano
(journalist for “El Vigia”, Ensenada and writer of numerous books on Baja California, Mexico)

Sunday, March 27, 2007
Two hundred years later
Sacred music in the mission of San Borja
The Dutch mezzo-soprano Christel Veraart offered an angelical concert in the central desert

Ensenada, B.C. - When the Jesuit missionaries established the missions of old California, one of their fundamental intentions was to develop in the Indians a taste for the arts, including Music. Thus several of the missionaries formed choirs of sacred music, with indigenous voices, mainly with the cochimí of the central region of the peninsula. The most famous choir was the one of the mission at Mulegé, thanks to one of its missionaries who had a strong interest in music. According to some missionaries, the indigenous Californians had an interest and talent for the sacred song, and after some music education their voices sounded wonderful.

The return to the sacred
With the departure of the Jesuits in 1768, the indigenous choirs of sacred music practically disappeared. More then two hundred years had to pass until this sacred music , in the form of a perfectly trained voice, would return to the missions. This historic event took place last Sunday on March the 18th at the mission of San Francisco de Borja Adac, thanks to the mezzo-soprano Christel Veraart. Christel visited the missions of San Francisco de Borja and Santa Gertrudis the Magna a year earlier and fell in love with them, as well as with the central desert of Baja California. It was then that she suggested to Father Gabriel Alvarez, Episcopal delegate for the restoration of both missions, the project of singing a Sacred music concert, first at San Borja and at a later date at Santa Getrudis. After months of preparations and with the support of several organizations and people, the first concert was carried out successfully. The Jesuit missionary of Czech origin, Wenceslao Linck, established this mission in 1762. Its temple is of clear quarry rock, which gives great beauty to the building and makes it the most beautiful and historical structure in the State of Baja California. The acoustics of the mission are perfect for such an event, and Christel’s voice sounded marvelously clear and powerful. To several of the attendees it seemed as if they were listening to the voice of an angel.

The Singer’s Background
Christel Veraart was born in Bergen, The Netherlands. It was on her native soil that she began her music education at the "Maastricht Conservatory of Music". Later she continued her studies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she graduated from the National Conservatory "Lopez Buchardo". She continued studying diverse voice techniques with Gemma Visser (Holland), Wendy Eathorne (London), and Ada Matus (Paris). Her singing talents have earned her numerous concerts and recognition in many countries in both Europe and the Americas.

The experience
The mission of San Borja is to be found around 500 km south of Ensenada. It is accessed by dirt road, some 30 km from the small community of Nuevo Rosarito. Its big temple surprises, not only by its beauty but also because of its placement in the middle of nowhere, with only one family living nearby. In the time of the missions it housed more than three thousand natives. By Saturday afternoon many of the guests interested in the concert started to arrive at San Borja. People mainly from the vicinity of Bahia de los Angeles, Nuevo Rosarito, Villa Jesus Maria, Guerrero Negro, Vizcaíno, El Rosario, San Quintín, Ensenada and Tijuana, but also some from Loreto, La Paz and even from San Diego, California. Many of them camped out around the mission; others installed themselves inside the mission, thanks to the support of Father Gabriel, who welcomed everyone. On Sunday the 18th, after the mass that father Gabriel celebrated, the concert began. About 140 people filled the temple. Because there were only one hundred chairs, about forty people had to stand. After Father Gabriel introduced her, Christel appeared in front of the altar; blond, tall, with features characteristic of the northern regions of Europe. She explained that due to the remoteness of the place it had been impossible to bring a piano for live accompaniments, and therefore she brought a pre-recording of the piano. All sound equipment was put together by her husband, who operated as technician and sound engineer. Speaking in excellent Spanish, she explained the pleasure it brought her to sing in San Borja, surrounded by a place as special as the central desert. Commenting about the program, she explained that she carefully selected sacred music from the 18th century, the same time in which the missions were formed. Compositions stemmed from Europe as well as the Americas. Some would be interpreted in Latin, others in Spanish, German and English. The concert started with a classic composition by Mendelssohn "Oh Rest in the Lord". The beauty of the piece, combined with the magnificent voice of Christel, caused people from the beginning to stay engaged as if in trance. The frame of the altar, the original image of San Francisco de Borja, the entire stone wall, and the mystical air, gave a magical touch to the unique moment. "Face me vere tecum flere" by Haydn was next, followed by, an "Ave Maria" by Charles Gounod, "Ya la naturaleza redimida" by Manuel Sumaya, "Ave Maria" by Guilio Caccini, "Haec est Regina Virginum" by Haendel, "Panis Angelicus" by Gounod, "Dignare O Domine" by Haendel, "Litanei auf das Fest Allerseelen" by Schubert," Jesu bleibet maeine Freude " by Bach, and closing with " The Lord Bless you and keep you " by John Rutter. In order to listen to the concert without interruptions, the church was closed and an absolute silence was requested, which was responded to perfectly. Nothing else could be heard but Christel’s singing. It was amazing to hear the fineness of her voice and to see there, sitting in their pews, on the floor, on the stones, enchanted, astonished, the rancheros of the region, but also impresarios, some tourists, scientists, geologists, historians, housewives and people that love this region profoundly. It had been more than two hundred years that in this mission and all the others, God had been praised in this way.
After the concert there was food, during which one could congratulate and talk to Christel and to Father Gabriel, we mixed together and drank good wine. Although the event was free, it was organized to benefit the Organization "Comanji", which is directed by Father Gabriel, and whose objective is to raise the necessary funds for the completion of the restoration of the missions of Santa Gertrudis and San Borja. In the case of San Borja, the proceeds provided an advance for 30% of the restoration work. A lot of attendees and participants also donated money to Comanji, motivated by the excellent concert and the beauty of its natural surroundings.
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