Opening Voluntary: Three Verses – Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726)
Choral Introit: Salus populi – Translated and transcribed from the Gregorian Graduale Simplex
Today’s opening voluntary presents three sections of a larger Sonata for organ and harpsichord composed by Italian-born and later South American, Baroque composer, Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726). Zipoli was born in Prato, Italy and studied under several notable Italian composers of his day, including Alessandro Scarlatti in Naples and Bernardo Pasquini in Rome. In the year 1715, he was appointed the organist of the great Church of the Gesù in Rome, the mother church for The Society of Jesus, known most commonly as the Jesuits. In the following year, he travelled to Sevilla, Spain where he formally entered the Jesuit order as a novice on 1 July 1716. A year later, in July 1717, he left with a group of 53 missionaries for service in the Reductions of Paraguay in Spanish Colonial America. The Reductions were settlements for indigenous peoples created by the Jesuits in Latin America in the 17th and 18th centuries for the purposes of evangelization, government and taxation of the indigenous peoples. These settlements were located primarily in a region that roughly corresponds to modern Paraguay and were mostly populated by the Tupi-Guarani peoples, although some later settlements were established in areas now in Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. A fragment of the controversial history of these communities was dramatized in the popular 1986 film, The Mission, which narrates some of the events of the events following the Treaty of Madrid of 1750 in which Spain ceded portions of Paraguay, including a number of the mission Reductions, to Portugal and which culminated in the Guarani war of 1754-1756. In 1767, the Jesuits were expelled from the Spanish Realm including holdings South America and the mission towns of California, Sonora and Arizona, where they were largely replaced by missionaries of the Franciscan order.
Zipoli studied at the Jesuit seminary in the Americas in Córdoba, in what is now Argentina, from 1717-1724 in preparation for the priesthood, but sadly, due to the lack of an available bishop, he was never ordained. All through those years, he served as musical director for the local Jesuit church until his death from an unknown infectious disease in 1726. The work performed this morning as our opening voluntary dates to the year 1716 and was composed most likely in Italy just prior to his departure for the Spain and the Americas. Today, it is his European music for which he is most remembered and which forms the larger portion of his surviving works, it having been assumed that his later works in Colonial America had been irretrievably lost. Recently, however, some of his church music was rediscovered in Chiquitos, Bolivia including two full masses, two psalm settings, several office hymns, a Te Deum and several other pieces.