Friday, July 31, 2020

Zipoli's Ignatius.

For today's Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, here are three selections dedicated to the founder of the Society of Jesus by Jesuit composer Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726). Born in Tuscany, Zipoli showed early promise as a composer and studied under Alessandro Scarlatti in Naples and Bernardo Pasquini in Rome before being named organist of the Church of the Gesù at the age of 26. Zipoli subsequently entered the Jesuits with the hope of serving as a missionary in the Paraguayan reductions; sent to Argentina as a novice, Zipoli spent the rest of his life as choirmaster at the Jesuit mission of Santa Catalina near Córdoba. Though Zipoli was only 37 when he died, his liturgical compositions for the use of indigenous choirs circulated widely in the Jesuit reductions in South America. Falling into obscurity after the suppression of the Jesuits, Zipoli's work was rediscovered by musicologists in the twentieth century and later championed by performers like Argentinian conductor Gabriel Garrido and his Ensemble Elyma, to whom we owe this recording of Zipoli's Misa de San Ignacio.

Also performed by Garrido and Ensemble Elyma, this presentation of vespers as they would be sung for the Feast of St. Ignatius makes use of a setting of the common of confessors believed to have been composed by Domenico Zipoli. The participation of the Coro de Niños Cantores de Córdoba helps the modern listener to imagine how Domenico Zipoli's compositions may have sounded when performed by Guaraní choirs in the reductions of Paraguay.

Finally, the opera San Ignacio represents a hybrid work assembled by the Swiss Jesuit Martin Schmid (1694-1772), a missionary in Chiquitos in Bolivia, who wove together a series of shorter pieces by Zipoli and other composers along with material of his own composition to produce a short opera about Ignatius of Loyola destined to be performed in the Jesuit reductions. Once again, this is a performance by Ensemble Elyma under the direction of Gabriel Garrido. These fragments of the music of Domenico Zipoli serve to recall the memory of a composer who remains something of an enigma; on this Feast of St. Ignatius, may they also serve to honor the memory of the founder of the Society of Jesus.


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