Interview with Tomás Luis de Victoria Choire

The Research Center Tomás Luis de Victoria always tries to be a base for materials and posibilities about the abulense composer´s world and music. But, without a doubt, the most important task it´s the performance of his music. It´s trought the choirs that the circle it´s complete, and this digital site´s work became sensible in voice and music, and for that, we would like to start a new kind of relation with those ensambles wich from one or another perspective, are related to our most importante composer´s music.

To open this dialogue and exchange space, we have had Tomás Luis de Victoria choir, from the Pontificia University in Salamanca, and his conductor, Francisco José Udaondo. This choir was founded in 1973, by initiative of a group of students who wanted to start singing, some of them with previous experiencies in other ensambles. The name was given in honour to the abulense, by his national and international relevance and also for some closeness with Salamanca. As a choir from a university, it has a quite big renovation of singers each year, usually around 50 singers between 18 and 22 years.

The repertory it´s very divers, and when we asked to the conductor Udaondo about the early music in the repertory, he confess that always is traying to include some, eventought the group usually has not a big experience in music. “The early music it isn´t easy, it demands a certain level of knowledge and technic that a choir raises with time and experience. Because of that, we are use to work with that kind of repertory in Easter concert (when the group has already some months of work and other performances in the background)". On despite of the challenge, the conductor beleieves that “it´s a way of presenting this kind of music to the young people, who don´t know it traditionally. And I have to say that, when they sing it, they don´t refuse it -as we could think as a preconception- but they enjoy it”. He adds, very certain: “that´s the importance of this kind of choires as a dynamizers and creators of music culture”.

About the cultural position in society that vocal music has right now and the social importance that the ensambles have, Udaondo explains his visión: “the choire gives a technical education but also a humanistic”. From his point of view, the support that this groups are receiving it´s interesting, but would be better to promote more activities like contests or concerts... wich improves a lot this universe. On the case of choirs in universities, from Udaondo´s view, the dificulty can be that many institutions don´t get “the great job behind this emsembles and the education the singers are receiving”. As a proposal for the future, he has it clear: “the choirs shoud have an academic consideration, and not just be an external activity. They shuld be an extraordinary seminar, certify and with recognition”.

When we are talking about the liking for early music in the audience, the diretor explains his doulbe vision about the topic like that: in one hand “it´s usual to consider and believe that early music is elitist. In a way, the musicians create that consideration, because we want an audience who can understand that richness in details and subtleties. And, it´s true, not all ears are used to this kind of pieces”. But on the other hand, he thinks that to bring this music to a non trained audiences, other aspects had to be take in count when we choose repertory, as “the atention that demands this music, the intensity, the depth and richness...”.The responsability with new audiences it´s very high because the choir can be “awakeing the restnessless and the interest” in the audience. For Udaondo, the desing of the concert is essential, “the good music has always an audience, but it´s necessary to know how to choose the songs. If no, we will have a marginal audience and incredibly demanding”.

We also wanted to ask to the conductor, if he already knew the CEV and if he has any suggestin to improve the difusión we do from our work. He told us that his choir have been useing some times the scorse by the New Victoria Edition, and if they could ask, “maybe some seminars or workshops for non profesional singers about Tomás Luis de Victoria´s music”.

Thanks to Francisco José Udaondo for the time and the dedication answering our questions, and specially, for the great job with the Tomás Luis de Victoria choir in the Pontificia University in Salamanca. Victoria´s music moves to who has been singing it or listening it since more than four hundred years, because it was make with mastery for that goal; it´s our job to understand it and perform it to keep it alive many more years.