As an additional note, members of this group felt the need to expand its repertoire outside of Christmas themes and perform year-round with the additional aim to include music from the rest of Latin America as well.
The idea gave birth to several additional groups:
Fusion Latina, Vancouver’s First Latin American Choir: It aimed at promoting music from all over the Latin America region. Sadly, Fusion Latina is no longer performing.
Grupo Asi Somos, a quintet performing Afro-Venezuelan music and whom most recently appeared at the Opening Gala for the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival (VLAFF) 2014.
Some of our members also perform in other similar groups, which we want to acknowledge and give a shout-out:
Viene Sonando, under the direction of the magnificent Marianella Ramos. This smaller choir has performed in smaller venues in Metro Vancouver and are not to be missed.
SongPati Latin Band, Vancouver’s own Gaitas ensemble whom recently (2015) performed in Calgary as the opening artists for the legendary Latin music band Guaco.
WHAT WE DO
We sing “Aguinaldos”, “Parrandas”, and “Gaitas” – Venezuelan Christmas Carols.
Aguinaldo is a folk genre of Christmas music, which began as a derived form of the Spanish “Villancicos”. In Venezuela, aguinaldos are often performed by people called parranderos—a casual group of people, often family or friends, who go from house to house. Also, in Venezuela the word “aguinaldo” is associated with a gift during the Christmas season.
Of ample dispersion in the country, the aguinaldo song is interpreted not only to religious motives, but also to the humanity of the Joy of Christmas. Also, and according to the various regions of the country, it is sung with the support of diverse musical instruments. The aguinaldos are generally comprised of six verses which can be specially composed, or improvised in agreement with the circumstances.
In many communities of Venezuela it is customary for the musicians sing in front of the cross and the mangers (nativities scenes) which can be found in almost every home.
The aguinaldos, in many cases, maintain melodies in which old carols are recognized, but the rhythmical factor and the use of numerous instruments create differences from them. It is for that reason that can be spoken of an evolutionary process in the aguinaldo that includes the presence of síncopas, (great metrical freedom) as well as some fusion with contemporary lullabies and modern musical genres.
Aguinaldos can comprise a complete instrumental set of “Parranda Navideña”: the violin, clarinet, bandolín, and until the end of the late 1800s accordion-like instruments, that are in charge of the prelude and interlude and are used to duplicate the melody of the song if wished. Nevertheless, the richest aspect conforms the support of instruments such as “charrasca”, “chineco”, the triangle, drums, tambourines, maraccas, “furruco”, “cuatro”, “requinto”, sometimes the guitar and tiple.
The Gaita is the name of a Venezuelan folk music from Maracaibo, Zulia state. It is a genre associated with Christmas all over the country. The themes addressed by the interpreters of this genre range from love songs to religious figures and even humorous subjects of complaint. The political element is also the protagonist of many issues interpreted in Gaitas.
The style became popular throughout Venezuela in the 1960s, and it fused with other styles such as salsa and merengue in the 1970s.
Parrandas are an Afro-Indigenous musical form played in various coastal states in Venezuela. They can also refer to a traditional carnival-like street party with origins date back to the 18th century.
In general terms, we refer to Parrandas as musical festivities in the Christmas season holidays.