Saturday, May 7, 2016

[Video On Demand™] The Georgia Boy Choir - Nigra Sum

In 1943, the Spanish composer Pablo Casals (1876-1973) wrote "Nigra Sum," perhaps his most well known choral work. Like many of his compositions, the piece was designed to be sung at the famed Montserrat Monastery in Catalonia, the ancient Spanish city of Casals' birth. It was written as a six-part chorus, with an organ or piano accompaniment.

Rather fittingly, I found a performance of his masterpiece by the Georgia Boy Choir, recorded at the majestic Benedictine abbey on June 14, 2016. The performance took place during the Spain/Portugal International Concert Tour in which the choir participated. Some of the kids look a bit overwhelmed by it all, but the sound of their performance is beautiful.

The video itself is also beautiful, offering us establishing views of the picturesque "sawn" mountains where the Monsterrat Cathedral sits. Rather surprisingly, the video also includes shots of the boys with La Moreneta (The little dark one), a wooden Black Virgin statue whose legendary existence in Catalonia can be traced to the 12th century.


Nigra Sum - Pablo Casals, 1943

Nigra sum, sed formosa, filiae Jerusalem. 
Ideo dilexit me rex et introduxit me in cubiculum suum et dixit mihi: 
Surge, amica mea, et veni. 
Jam hiems transiit, imber abiit, et recessit. 
Flores apparuerunt in terra nostra, 
Tempus putationis advenit 
Vox turturis audita est in terra nostra. 


I am black and beautiful, o daughters of Jerusalem. 
The king has brought me into his chambers. 
We will exult and rejoice in you; 
We will extol your love more than wine; 
Rightly do they love you. 
My beloved speaks and says to me: 
“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; 
For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. 
The flowers appear on earth; 
The time of singing has come, 
And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” 


(Song of Solomon)

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