Cantigas Women's Choir makes its international debut in Argentina
by Rachel Chang for Vocal Area Network
Posted June 29, 2016

Cantigas Women's ChoirHudson County’s Cantigas Women’s Choir will make its international debut in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with two major concerts during a week-long visit to the South American capital. With 30 singers from the area (including residents of Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken and New York City) ranging in age from 18 to 70, the group will perform a solo concert at Primera Iglesia Metodista de Buenos Aires at 7:30 PM on July 5, and will participate in a choral festival with some of Argentina’s most prestigious choirs at the Iglesia San Carlos at 8 PM on July 7.

“Cantigas has a longstanding relationship with Argentine choral life,” explains Cantigas artistic director Joan Litman. “It began with our North American premiere of Argentine composer Leonardo San Juan’s Magnificat in 2010, which the maestro traveled to guest conduct in both Hoboken and New York City. Two years later, San Juan returned with an Argentine choir, Coral Femenino de Caballito, whose members Cantigas hosted both in our homes and on our stage with a joint concert. In 2014, San Juan returned again to conduct yet another concert to a lively packed crowd in Hoboken.”

Renowned Argentine composer San Juan adds: “I feel like Cantigas is part of my musical family.”

Thus, this trip is a culmination of the seven years of collaboration between the groups, not just musically, but culturally as well. “As singers of songs from the Americas, we will present a face of the United States that is interested and joyful about joining in solidarity with our neighboring countries. Each member recognizes her presence is a diplomatic one, as well as personally enriching one,” Litman says. “I hope the trip will solidify our ensemble and expand our collective imaginations.”

Cantigas Women’s Choir, named after a medieval Spanish song form called a “cantiga,” is composed of 50 women of varying ages and backgrounds, and brings women of the community together to explore the rich tradition of women's singing. The group performs a broad spectrum of global music. In addition to its own biannual concerts, the group performs for community groups, including at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton and Alaris Health at Hamilton Park in Jersey City, and on behalf of the Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City. Litman founded the group in September 2002.

Director Joan Isaacs Litman is a native of Los Angeles and has been a choral director in the New York metropolitan area for 36 years. In March 2009, she was awarded the prestigious “Educator of the Year Award” by the Organization of American Kodaly Educators in Washington, DC. She also directs the Mothers Chorus at the United Nations International School. With a longing to stimulate interest and appreciation of less-understood cultures, she has focused her research on the music of the Middle East. In the past few years she has taught and guest conducted in Argentina, Spain, Syria, Lebanon, Japan, Hong Kong and the Dominican Republic. Litman is a founder and music director emerita at the Mustard Seed School in Hoboken.

For more information, visit Cantigas on the web at www.cantigas.net.

Rachel Chang handles publicity for Cantigas Women's Choir.