La Bomba

Mass and Salad


Thousands of different reasons might have encouraged a sixteen-century musician to board a ship in a journey towards the New World, taking with him nothing but his family and the most precious musical compositions of his collection.
So we find around 1598 the Portuguese Gaspar Fernandes and the Spaniard Pedro Bermúdez at Guatemala cathedral as organist and chapel master, respectively. Along with his position as organist, Gaspar Fernandes was entrusted with collecting, organizing and coping into choir books the music that Guatemala cathedral had acquired over the previous hundred years.
The Missa de Bomba by Pedro Bermúdez was included in one of those books that Fernandes copied in 1602. This book has been lost but the piece survives thanks to a copy made by Manuel José de Quirós, chapel master at the same cathedral, in 1760.
Musical parody is a common practice of the Renaissance period and consists simply in employing and varying an existing musical them in a new setting. Thus, Bermúdez’s Missa de Bomba uses the initial them of the Ensalada La Bomba by Mateo Flecha “el viejo” (the elder). The Ensalada (salad) is a poetic-musical form that mixes different rhythms, languages and topics in a, although mostly religious, very humorous way.
Mateo Flecha “el viejo” is considered to be, along-with Pedro Villa, the most important salad composer of the sixteenth century. His salad La Bomba (The Pump) tells the story of a shipwreck whose desperate crew screams and cries seeking divine salvation. Pump! Pump the water out! shouts the first phrase, as they hope to empty the boat.
Our program includes both La Bomba salad and the Missa de Bomba, along with other works by composers whose music was played in Guatemala cathedral, including Gaspar Fernandes, Francisco Guerrero and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
I Fedeli performs this program with four mail solo singers, four wind instruments (two cornettos, trombone and dulcian), harp and organ, all instruments well documented in Guatemala and Puebla cathedrals where both Bermúdez and Fernandes worked.

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