Coro Cervantes is a unique professional chamber choir. Through its perforamances and recordings it aims to bring the music of Iberia and Latin America to audiences everywhere. This disc of 20th century music for the unusual yet fabulous combination of choir and guitar coincides with the 70th birthday of Brazilian composer Marlos Nobre, whose work Yanomam, inspired by the death rituals of the indigenous Yanomami people, gives the album its title. The choir is accompanied by the Brazilian Fabio Zanon, one of most all embracing talents in the international guitar scene.

Julian Stocker Fabio Zanon Carlos Fernandez Aransay

The Yanomami

The Yanomami are one of the largest relatively isolated tribes in South America. They live in the rainforests and mountains of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela, and today their total population stands at around 32,000. At over 9.6 million hectares, the Yanomami territory in Brazil is twice the size of Switzerland. In Venezuela, the Yanomami live in the 8.2 million hectare Alto Orinoco – Casiquiare Biosphere Reserve. Together, these areas form the largest forested indigenous territory in the world.

The Yanomami live in large, circular, communal houses called yanos or shabonos. Some house up to 400 people. The Yanomami believe strongly in equality among people. Each community is independent from others and they do not recognize ‘chiefs’. Decisions are made by consensus, frequently after long debates where everybody has a say.

Like most Amazonian tribes, tasks are divided between the sexes. Men hunt game, often using curare (a plant extract) to poison their prey. Women tend the gardens where they grow around 60 crops and also collect wild honey nuts, shellfish and insect larvae.

The spirit world is a fundamental part of Yanomami life. Every creature, rock, tree and mountain has a spirit. Sometimes these are malevolent, attack the Yanomami and are believed to cause illness. Shamans control these spirits by inhaling a hallucinogenic snuff called yakoana. Through their trance like visions, they meet the spirits or xapiripë.

During the 1980s, the Yanomami suffered immensely when up to 40,0000 Brazilian goldminers invaded their land. The miners shot them, destroyed many villages, and exposed them to diseases to which they had no immunity. Twenty percent of the Yanomami died in just seven years. After a long international campaign led by Yanomami spokesman, Davi Kopenawa, Survival and the Brazilian NGO, the Pro Yanomami Commission (CCPY), Yanomami land in Brazil was officially recognized as the ‘Yanomami Park’ in 1992 and the miners expelled.

However, the Yanomami still face many threats. Cattle ranchers are invading and deforesting the eastern fringe of their land. Over 1,000 gold- miners are now working illegally on Yanomami land, transmitting deadly diseases like malaria and polluting the rivers with mercury. The Brazilian congress is debating a draft bill which, if approved, will legalise large scale mining in Indian lands, a move which is bitterly opposed by the Yanomami.

As a result of their increasing contact with outsiders, the Yanomami, CCPY and Survival, set up an education project. Yanomami are being trained to teach reading, writing and maths in their communities.

In 2004, Yanomami formed their own organisation, Hutukara (the part of the sky from which the earth was born), to defend their rights. Survival International has been working with the Yanomami for 40 years.

To support the Yanomami join Survival International at www.survival-international.org


What people are saying

“…the group sings with exceptional purity and brings a real idiomatic sensitivity to this repertoire”


Coro Cervantes
Carlos Fernandez Aransay, Conductor
Fabio Zanon, Guitar

Release date:27th Apr 2009
Order code:SIGCD166
Barcode: 635212016626


The pairing of solo guitar with chorus might not sound like the most felicitous combination; given the guitar’s restricted dynamic range, it seems like it would be easy for it to be swamped by the volume of a chorus. This album demonstrates, though, that a guitar can hold it own, with a fine balance. This is due in part at least to the skill of the composers, who frequently give the guitar a murmuring accompanimental role while the chorus is singing, reserving more intricate solo work for moments when the guitar is playing alone. Coro Cervantes, the only British chorus dedicated to Hispanic and Latin American music, has only 17 members, but it has an unusually full and sumptuous sound, warm and beautifully blended. Conducted by its founder, Carlos Fernández Aransay, the group sings with exceptional purity and brings a real idiomatic sensitivity to this repertoire. The works they have chosen are for the most part very attractive. Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s warmly romantic cycle, Romancero Gitano, settings of Lorca texts, reveals a more sensual side of the composer’s work than is usual and is a real revelation; this is a work that deserves to be widely performed and heard. It would be difficult to identify the five Piezas Sacras by Argentine Fernando Moruja as having Hispanic origins, but they are lovely examples of contemporary choral writing, similar in style and tone to the work of Morten Lauridsen. They are a cappella, which seems to make them out of place on this album, but the album’s subtitle, “Music for choir and guitar,” leaves open the option that some of the music is for choir, and some for guitar. The album’s most unconventional piece is Yanomami by Brazilian composer Marlos Nobre, which invokes the ceremonies surrounding the death of a tribal chief. The guitar is the element that binds together the mix of chanting, shouting, extended vocal techniques, conventional singing, and twelve-tone choral procedures into a work of compelling dramatic unity. Carlos Surinach’s English setting of the Via Crucis is the least effective selection; its brief movements are episodic and prosaic, lacking a distinctive compositional voice. The sound is clean, clear, and nicely ambient.

  1. Ba ladilla de los tres rios – Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco –
  2. La guitarra – Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco –
  3. Pu?al – Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco –
  4. Procesi?n, Paseo Saeta – Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco –
  5. Memento – Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco –
  6. Baile – Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco –
  7. Cr?talo – Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco –
  8. Allegretto – Carlos Suri?ach –
  9. Andante – Carlos Suri?ach –
  10. Allegro – Carlos Suri?ach –
  11. Pontius Pilate – Carlos Suri?ach –
  12. Scarlet Robe – Carlos Suri?ach –
  13. Crown of Thorns – Carlos Suri?ach –
  14. Via Crucis – Carlos Suri?ach –
  15. Golgotha – Carlos Suri?ach –
  16. Crucifixion – Carlos Suri?ach –
  17. Eli, Eli… – Carlos Suri?ach –
  18. The Ghost – Carlos Suri?ach –
  19. The Earthquake – Carlos Suri?ach –
  20. Arisen Saints – Carlos Suri?ach –
  21. The Son of God – Carlos Suri?ach –
  22. Mary Magdalene – Carlos Suri?ach –
  23. The Angel – Carlos Suri?ach –
  24. A Parable – Carlos Suri?ach –
  25. In Heaven – Carlos Suri?ach –
  26. Ave Maria – Fernando Moruja –
  27. Pater Noster – Fernando Moruja –
  28. O Bone Iesu – Fernando Moruja –
  29. Lux ?terna – Fernando Moruja –
  30. Hodie Christus Natus Est – Fernando Moruja –
  31. Yanomami Op. 47 – Marlos Nobre –
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