American Spiritual Ensemble Performs in Quito For Holy Week Festival

Soprano Andrea Jones-Sojola, a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sings “Lord I Have Seen” at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito’s historical center district.

Soprano Andrea Jones-Sojola, a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sings “Lord I Have Seen” at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito’s historical center district.

Concerts in Quito continue to move me to tears. Last night’s was the latest.

I had the great fortune to attend a concert by The American Spiritual Ensemble, a group comprised of some of the finest opera singers in the world. It was the third concert of the four I’ve attended in Quito in recent weeks that left me in tears.

Founded in 1995 by Everett McCorvey (below, snapping his fingers to “When the Saints”), the group’s mission is to preserve the tradition of the negro spiritual, one of the oldest musical forms of the post-colonial U.S., with a repertoire that ranges from spirituals and the classics to gospel and Broadway.

Everett McCorvey, director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, at a concert in the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in the historical center of Quito, Ecuador.

Everett McCorvey, director of the American Spiritual Ensemble, at a concert in the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in the historical center of Quito, Ecuador.

The members are seasoned opera performers and soloists as well as well-traveled minstrels of the art form, performing regularly at the Metropolitan, New York City, San Francisco, Boston and Atlanta Civic Operas, as well as with companies around the world.

The group is in the Ecuadorean capital for a three-performance visit as part of the city’s Holy Week Musica Sacra Festival. The setting for last night’s 18-piece performance, the early 18th century Iglesia de la Merced in the city’s historical center, couldn’t have been better.

Members of the American Spiritual Ensemble perform at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito's historical center district.

Members of the American Spiritual Ensemble perform at the Iglesia de la Merced, an early 18th century church in Quito’s historical center district.

The highlight? Picking one is an impossible chore, so I’ll offer four:

“No More Auction Block / Go Down Moses”, the first to give me goosebumps, performed by Martin Hargrove and Kevin Thompson; Denisha Ballew’s moving rendition of “Soon I Will be Done With the Trouble of the World”; Matthew Truss’s powerful treatment of “There’s a Man Going Round”; and Andrea Jones-Sojola’s uplifting “Lord I Have Seen”.

Kenneth Overton (Left), Larry Hylton (Center) and Sam McKelton (Right), members of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sing

Kenneth Overton (Left), Larry Hylton (Center) and Sam McKelton (Right), members of the American Spiritual Ensemble, sing “Sit Down Servant” in concert at the 18th century Merced church in Quito, Ecuador.

Twenty-three photos in all are on my blog. For editorial use and licensing, check out the images filed for Corbis and Demotix. Enjoy!

 

Como Asesinar a Felipes, Live in Quito – a Nine-Photo Gallery

SebaBala (l) and Koala Contreras of Como Asesinar a Felipes in Quito

I managed to catch and thoroughly enjoy Como Asesinar a Felipes, a popular Chilean band who melds jazz and hiphop in entertainingly innovative ways, along with a capacity crowd at the Plaza del Teatro in Quito, Ecuador, on Sunday, March 8, part of a concert that officially closed the Ecuador Jazz 2015 Festival.

Moody jazz / hip hop fusion are descriptors that really just scratch the surface of the undefinable sound I listened to on Sunday afternoon. Let’s call it experimental hip hop with a cool contemporary urban Latin edge. Gritty and unpredictable but at times calm too, like the Santiago streets where the band was formed.

Koala Contreras, vocalist, Como Asesinar a Felipes

More about the band and a gallery of nine images is on my blog Piran Cafe; for editorial use check out the images I filed for Demotix. Or simply get in touch.

 

Totó La Momposina, Colombia’s Queen of Cumbia, Live in Quito – an 18-Photo Gallery

Totó La Momposina, live in Quito - March 8 2015

Totó La Momposina, live in Quito – March 8 2015

 

QUITO – Ten days after Cassandra Wilson made me cry at the opening of the Ecuador Jazz 2015 Festival, it was only fitting that Colombian national treasure Totó La Momposina would leave me in tears after her performance at an open air concert that officially closed the festival yesterday (March 8) afternoon.

The Latin Grammy Award winner and one of Colombia’s most important musical ambassadors played for more than 90 minutes before an appreciative crowd that packed the Plaza del Teatro in Quito’s historical city center.

I wasn’t the only one moved by the power, emotion and sincerity of her exceptionally beautiful voice, one belying her 74 years. If I have a quarter of her energy, charisma and charm at that age, I’ll be a very happy man.

Much more about the Colombian legend along with a gallery of eighteen images are on my blog Piran Cafe.

All images © Bob Ramsak 2015. All rights reserved. For editorial use, please check out the images I filed for the Demotix Agency. Or simply get in touch. Enjoy!