Coral Cantigas (“Cantigas”), is the only chorus of its kind in the Washington, D.C. area and most of the nation. Our mission is to increase awareness and appreciation of the many rich styles of Latin American, Spanish and Caribbean choral music, and unite communities through the joyful and transformative power of music. Cantigas provides artistic excellence in creative programming; educational workshops; and bilingual, cross-cultural and collaborative performances to national and international audiences. The chorus performs in Spanish, Portuguese, and a variety of languages and dialects of the Americas such as Nahuatl, Quechua and Creole, with bilingual concert program notes and texts.
Local and national arts and media organizations have consistently acknowledged Cantigas’s accomplishments. In 2011, 2010, 2008 and 2006, Cantigas was nominated for a Wammie (Washington Area Music Award.) Cantigas was also featured on award-winning Montgomery County cable television show, Que Pasa in 2010 and 2011, and featured on a 2009 Telemundo television news story about the presidential Latino Gala. In 2008, Diana Saéz and Coral Cantigas were featured on Hispanics Today, a nationally syndicated television program sponsored by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
In 2012, Cantigas was commissioned to perform what is believed to be the premiere of Clotilde Arias's translation of the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Spanish, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The Smithsonian commissioned Cantigas's live performance and recording of the song for a new exhibition Not Lost in Translation: The Life of Clotilde Arias, a biographical look at the Peruvian-born composer, copywriter, translator and citizen’s contributions to U.S. history. In 2009 Cantigas was a featured artistic group in the 2009 presidential inaugural celebrations Out of Many at the National Museum of the American Indian, and at the Organization of American States (OAS), one of the prominent Latino inaugural balls in DC.
In 2011, Cantigas celebrated its 20th Anniversary Gala at the Organization of American States (OAS) and presented the Cantigas Awards to opera singer and conductor Maestro Plácido Domingo for Talent & Lifetime Achievement; choreographer Septime Webre for Pioneer in the Arts & Culture; pianist, composer and conductor Dr. Alejandro Hernández-Valdez for Talent; and Dr. Diana Sáez for Pioneer in Latin American Choral Music.
Cantigas has appeared in prestigious concert halls across the region including The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Mexican Cultural Institute, Strathmore Hall, Washington National Cathedral; and performed under the auspices of the Washington Performing Arts Society, In Series, National Council of La Raza, Smithsonian Institution, American Choral Directors Association and American Guild of Organists. Cantigas has also performed in collaboration with the Washington Chorus; Pan American Orchestra; American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra; Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia; Cathedral Choral Society; New Century Singers; Class Acts Arts/Carpe Diem Chorus; Andes Manta, world-acclaimed quintet from Ecuador; VOCE Chamber Choir; Alturas Duo; Hesperus; Cantaré; Coro Feminino de la Universidad Catolica de Perú; Mario Loiderman Middle School Choir, Washington Girls Chorus; Zemer Chai, DC’s Jewish community chorus and Ramón Tasat; and The Beltway Brass Quintet, among others. In addition, the choir has hosted area performances by Coral del Banco Industrial de Venezuela; Argentinean groups Opus Cuatro and Los 4 de Córdoba; and Cuban choir Desandann” (co-sponsored with WPAS); and hosted workshops led by outstanding Latin American scholars and performers such as María Fernanda Pereda (Venezuela); Emilia Díaz Chávez (Cuba); and Egberto Bermúdez (Colombia).
Cantigas has presented the regional and U.S. premieres of numerous works including Enrique Bayoán Rios Escribano’s Andanza, commissioned for our 20th anniversary; Sonia Morales Matos’s Lamento Negro; Paco Peña's Misa Flamenca; Antonio Mir's Misa Coral; Luis Morales Bance's oratorio Berruecos; and Javier Farias’s Oceana (Chile). In 1996, Coral Cantigas represented North America at the IV Encuentro Coral José Antonio Calcaño, one of the premier international choral festivals, held in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2001, the choir opened its 11th season with a tour of Puerto Rico, and in 2006 its 16th season with a tour of Argentina.
The chorus takes its name from the word cantigas, Spanish monophonic songs of the 13th Century that developed from both folkloric music and sacred chant. Coral Cantigas’s repertoire ranges from folk music and popular songs performed with folkloric instruments to classical works with orchestra. The chorus performs sacred and secular music of many traditions. Our audience is roughly half Latino and half Anglo, thus diversity is also reflected in Coral Cantigas singers, board and staff members.
Coral Cantigas has been awarded grants by the Maryland State Arts Council, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Hispanics In Philanthropy, Bank of America Foundation, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The MARPAT Foundation, the Freddie Mac Foundation, The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, The Montgomery County Partnership Grants, the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, and the WGMS 103.5 Performing Arts Fund.