Misa a Buenos Aires “Misa Tango”– by Martín Palmeri
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Misa a Buenos Aires, known as Misatango, is a setting of the mass in Latin by Martín Palmeri. The music uses the style of the nuevo tango and its typical instrumentation, scored for mezzo-soprano, mixed choir and an ensemble of bandoneon, piano and strings. The world premiere was on 17 August 1996 at the Avenida Theatre in Buenos Aires. It has been performed and recorded internationally, often with the composer as the pianist, and is regarded as his signature work.
Palmeri has often played the piano part in performances, in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Germany, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Litauen, Netherlands, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the U.S. In October 2013, Palmeri took part in a performance of the Kölner Domchor and members of the Gürzenich Orchestra with Bernarda Alba from Argentina, conducted by Eberhard Metternich, at a concert to honor at Sant’Ignazio di Loyola in Campo Marzio. The concert was the opening of the 12 edition of the International Festival of Sacred Music and Art; the 12th edition was dedicated to Pope Franciscus who had been cardinal in Buenos Aires before. The performance garnered the work’s international popularity. Notably, the mass was performed on 18 January 2015 in an international production with several choirs in Carnegie Hall, New York City.
Under the direction of Argentinian-born Dr. Eduardo Garcia-Novelli, (Director of Choral Studies at the University of Kansas), the MSM had the pleasure of performing this piece in the Spring of 2019 and had the distinction of being the first Midwest premiere of the piece. The composer of “Misa Tango”, Argentinian maestro Martín Palmerí, played piano for the performance. Additionally, the mass was accompanied by talented local strings players. The concert also featured the bandoneon, which is similar to an accordion, but with buttons for both hands and no keyboard. The bandoneon is an instrument originating from Germany that is often used in music from Argentina specifically in tango music. The bandoneon player was Maestro Daniel Binelli, an Argentinian who lives in New York and Spain, and who is internationally known for his bandoneon playing being widely regarded as among the best to play the instrument in the world. Binelli also performed solo music for bandoneon featuring the work of Astor Piazzolla.
About the piece:
The unique rhythms of Tango are easily identified but not often used for choral arrangements. Since its first performance in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1996, “Misa Tango” has been performed to great acclaim in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, under the direction of numerous prestigious conductors.
Composer Palmerí has written numerous other choral and instrumental works and operas, including “Tango del Bicentenario,” “Canto de la lejanía,” “Oratorio de Navidad,” and many more. On www.misatango.com, Palmerí is quoted as saying about the Misa Tango,
“…my goal with this composition was to maintain the harmonic language, rhythms, melodic designs, and all of the characteristics of tango within the orchestral score, thus allowing the chorus to have full liberty to just sing the mass text. My decision to use the Latin text could be explained by the place of the Latin language among centuries of choral music and the universal connection to the language. But I have to say that my decision also carries the weight of my aesthetic requirement: Latin gives the work a reserved, esoteric quality which, from my point of view, has much to do with tango—especially progressive tango.”