Tribute: Missa Dos Quilombos



Slideshow honoring the powerful Missa dos Quilombos, music by Milton Nascimento, presided over by Archbishop Hélder Câmara,  recorded in  “O Santuario de Nossa Senhora Mae dos Hommes” (The Church of Our Lady Mother of Men), Caraça, Minas Gerais, Brasil, in February 1982. It was banned by the Vatican.
Some background, here’s a superbly written review by Ted Gioia, in
Quilombos were settlements by runaway Brazilian slaves and free-born natives of African origin. They first appeared in the first half of the sixteenth century, and the most famous group of quilombos, Palmares, lasted for almost a century as a self-sustaining political entity. Milton Nascimento celebrated the resilience and independence of these colonies in his mass Missa dos Quilombos, recorded in 1982. The combination of African-style percussion with liturgical singing is mesmerizing here—but this mixture eventually contributed to the work’s prohibition by the Vatican, which had long battled against assimilation of Candomblé elements into Roman Catholic ritual. On this recording, however,  Archbishop Hélder Câmara participates, and it is not hard to link Nascimento’s composition with Câmara’s liberation theology. The “Ofetório” is my favorite part of this vibrant work. The large chorus, which might weigh down a lesser rhythm section, makes the most of Nascimento’s expansive melody.

 Santuario do Caraca

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