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A recital of rare Latin American art songs

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New repertoire is the lifeblood of every style of music, but in the case of art songs within the classical music canon, a whole region of the world has been historically neglected.

Soprano Hannah Moreno. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Soprano Hannah Moreno.
Rochester-based musicians Hannah Moreno, a soprano, and Érico Freire Bezerra, a pianist, are hoping to change that one song at a time. Their upcoming recital, “Canciones de Mi Tierra” — devoted entirely to music by Latin American composers — is free and open to the public this Saturday, March 16, in Messinger Hall at Eastman Community Music School.

“Unfortunately, we don’t see enough Latin American composers in our institutions that express that part of classical music,” said Moreno, who is of Mexican and Colombian descent.

She has performed operas and art songs extensively, but rarely gets the opportunity to perform such repertoire by musicians from Latin America, which led her to collaborate with Bezerra on the recital.

Pianist Érico Freire Bezerra. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Pianist Érico Freire Bezerra.
The duo met while pursuing degrees at Eastman School of Music; Brazilian-born Bezerra decided to present a recital consisting of music by his compatriots in 2022, and Moreno performed on the program.

Historically, frequently performed classical works by Spanish-speaking composers feature guitar music. Regardless of instrumentation, Bezerra and Moreno said composers from Spain have been given precedence over Latin American composers.



Both musicians pointed out improvements could be made in academia to achieve a better balance between the accepted standard repertoire and more ethnically diverse works. The key is in drawing from the experience of students.

“We can incorporate and we can learn about and make the repertoire more like a reflection of the students," said Bezerra. "Not only their interests but their cultural background and what they grew up with.”

A contributing factor to the lack of Latin American representation in classical vocal music is publishers’ lack of access to scores. The music of Latin American composers can be hard to find, and is often unedited, handwritten manuscripts. There are also few available recordings of such music.


One of the leading lights when it comes to illuminating this lesser known music is the Colombian-Spanish soprano, musicologist and physician Patricia Caicedo, who has published music compiled from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Portugal, Spain, and elsewhere.

Several of the songs being performed for “Canciones de Mi Tierra” were culled from Caicedo’s books, including songs by Cuban composer Gisela Hernandez, Jaime Léon Ferro from Columbia, and Puerto Rican composer Rafael Aponte-Leedé.

Audiences just aren’t aware of these compositions yet, and concerts like “Canciones de Mi Tierra” could go a long way toward introducing such listeners to new music.

For more information on the 6 p.m. March 16 recital featuring soprano Hannah Moreno and pianist Érico Freire Bezerra, visit facebook.com/RochesterLatinoTheatreCompany.

Daniel J. Kushner is an arts writer at CITY. He can be reached at [email protected].