Art Song has been one of Latin American composers' favorites since the middle of the 19th century; however, it is a genre, which has been studied very little up to now. This fact is a result of multiple factors, the main one being that musical education in the western countries continues to be anchored in the Euro-centered repertoire, mainly the French, German and Italian music. The situation is even more dramatic today when at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, our conservatories and universities in Europe and America continue immersed in this stagnant model. Another very important factor is the difficulty to access the scores, many times because they have not been published in their country of origin, or, if they were, their print run was so small that they did not have a wide international distribution.
Despite this situation there are many works available to the interpreter who has a real vocation and interest to find new and interesting material. Unfortunately, young musicians and teachers will frequently limit themselves to interpret and teach what they find available in music shops, not bothering to delve into archives and libraries. This is why the recent publication of A Guide to the Latin American Art Song Repertoire is an important step towards increasing the interpreters' awareness of the existence of this repertoire. This guide has been designed to facilitate the students' and teachers' access to such rich and interesting repertoire.
The book, published by Indiana University Press and edited by Maya Hoover, presents a catalogue of Art Songs from 22 Latin American countries where the singer or the voice teacher can find the tessitura of the work, the poet, the composer, the publisher, the place where the score can be found and in some cases, the level of difficulty of the piece. In the preface the editor mentions the aims of the work, being the first one to create [End Page 144] awareness within the musical community of the existence of this repertoire to which she refers to as new. Although we know that this repertoire is not, by far, new, since it has been written since the middle of the 19th century, this catalogue is certainly a new tool which will contribute to unveil this important vocal repertoire; an entrance door for the interpreter with a sincere interest in beginning his/her discovery voyage through the Latin American Art Song territory.
The book contains a chapter about published works, which drifts away from the objective of introducing sources and resources exclusively within the Latin American Art Song field. Perhaps due to being an introductory guide, the editor mentions some of the most well-known works of Latin American musicology, most of which are cornerstones which, for us who devote ourselves to the study of this music, have known for a long time. The impression one gets from this chapter is that the study of Latin American music is an incipient and new discipline of which very little has been written, impression which is very far from reality. However, this section will be useful for the interpreter who has never had any contact with the Latin American repertoire. The most valuable and relevant part is the one that mentions previous Latin American Art Song musicology works. This part is limited and reflects the lack of knowledge about this repertoire, fact that enhances the importance of this guide.
The guide dedicates a chapter for each of the 22 countries included. Each chapter has a small introduction, which provides a context for the gender, followed by a list of songs for each composer giving the year of composition, tessitura, poet's name and publisher of every song. At the end of each chapter there is a list of publishers, collections and titles of books where one can find the works. All this practical information will be very useful for both interpreters and teachers.
The format is interesting but...