November 15, 2008

Pueblo oratorio features Indians

'Song of Pueblo' brings history to lifeThe premiere performance of the long-awaited "Song of Pueblo," a secular oratorio by Daniel Valdez, brought an epic story to life on the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center stage Thursday evening.

An oratorio may be described as a musical setting for voices and orchestra of a text based on the Scriptures or an epic theme. In this case, the epic theme is a history of the city of Pueblo up until the great flood of 1921.

Quite unexpectedly, two men in beautiful American Indian costumes, members of the Apache and Sioux tribes, I believe, offered up a touching Indian prayer honoring those who were killed or injured in the Branch Inn explosion on Thursday afternoon. It was very effective and tastefully done.

The show went on. My overall impression was that the "Song of Pueblo" was quite an extravaganza. It covered a lot of territory, including many events and a great number of people. There was a chorus of 30 children and adults; an orchestra of about 10 instrumentalists and a screen above the stage which projected historical still photos and motion pictures. All of this was composed and directed by Daniel Valdez.

The show consisted of 17 numbers, each carving out a bit of history which was especially memorable. These events and the music were narrated throughout by Sendi Peregrino.

Highlights were numbers about American Indians, Spanish and American settlers, the Mexican cultural influences, a romantic ballad sung by Brent Ritter, a fandango dance, Indian flute music, a catchy tune about Cripple Creek gold, Pikes Peak or bust, Gen. William Jackson Palmer, the railroads, the cattle drives and cowboy music prompting the audience to clap along, the waves of immigrants with corresponding folk tunes, and the birth of The Pueblo Star-Journal and The Pueblo Chieftain, and much more.
Comment:  To reiterate, "Song of Pueblo" is an oratorio about the city of Pueblo, not the Pueblo Indians.

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