Los Cantantes del Lago, invited to perform at the 9° Festival de Coros de La Inmaculada (9th Annual Choral Festival sponsored by the Church of the Immaculate Conception) in Morelia, combined their singing tour with a tour of churches and artisan villages in the states of Michoacán and Guanajuato.
Late last winter, Los Cantantes del Lago, a marvelous chorus based in Ajijic, Jalisco, (on the shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest lake) contracted with Mexico Cooks! to plan, organize, and guide them during their Central Mexico Tour 2009. The members of the chorus, nearly all of whom live in the Jalisco municipality of Chapala, range in age from 18 to over 80. They are natives of countries as diverse as England, France, Canada, and the United States, as well as Mexico.
The chorus director, Timothy Welch, is a native of Wisconsin who has lived in the city of Guadalajara for the last 10 years. Under his direction, Los Cantantes del Lago have sung throughout Mexico, they have toured in Greece, Turkey, and Ecuador, and they have produced two recordings of multilingual Christmas music.
The Calzada de Fray Antonio de San Miguel is one of the most beautiful streets in Morelia. The tree-lined street runs from Morelia's Las Tarascas fountain to one of the city's 18th Century gems, the Santuario de Guadalupe.
For the last nine years, Morelia's Templo de la Inmaculada Concepción (Church of the Immaculate Conception) has hosted a choral festival. From its inception as a recital event for that church's chorus, the festival has grown into a vibrant and important showcase for choruses from all over Mexico. Hernán Cortés, director of the festival, invited Los Cantantes del Lago to participate in the 2009 Festival del Coro. The idea for Los Cantantes' Central Mexico Tour 2009 sprang from that invitation.
Los Cantantes del Lago enjoyed a marvelous welcome dinner at Morelia's Fonda Marceva. The magnificent Trio Los Caracuaros de Serafín Ibarra provided live music from Michoacán's Tierra Caliente (the hot inland lowlands). After the meal and in spite of being stuffed to the gills, Los Cantantes stood up and sang Pilgrim's Hymn from the opera The Three Hermits for the musicians who had been singing to them. Tim Welch directs in this casual setting.
Within the framework of the chorus's five concerts in Morelia and the surrounding region, Mexico Cooks! set up day trips to artisan villages and culturally important historical sites for Los Cantantes del Lago.
Morelia's Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe). Although Los Cantantes did not sing at the Santuario, its beauty made it a favorite destination during the week the chorus spent in Morelia. (Photo: Mexico Cooks!)
Los Cantantes visited various locations in Morelia, Pátzcuaro, and Cuitzeo, Michoacán. They were inspired by the restoration of the Ex-Convento de San Francisco de Ásis and shopped at the artisans' market in Tzintzuntzan. They were awed by the 16th Century Templo de Santiago Apóstol in Tupátaro.
Los Cantantes del Lago stayed in Morelia at the Hotel de la Soledad. Public areas as well as guest rooms at the hotel are magnificently decorated and filled with flowers.
A hand-and-foot-powered bellows makes the fire leap high in the copper workshop at Casa Felícitas in Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán.
Visiting the copper smiths of Santa Clara del Cobre was one of the highlights of Los Cantantes' week in Michoacán. Several of the singers took sledgehammer in hand to join the smiths in hammering a red-hot copper ingot at internationally known Casa Felícitas.
The real joy for Los Cantantes was meeting festival choruses from all over Mexico. All of the singing was marvelous! Beginning with the very first performance in Zamora, Michoacán, loud cheers and standing ovations followed every Los Cantantes' concert. It was the first time a chorus composed primarily of retired foreigners sang in the Festival del Coro, but it's not likely to be the last time.
The twelve invited choruses were so ecstatic with performing that even after their full week of performances in many different venues, after the long and beautiful closing Mass at La Inmaculada Concepción, they met one last time to sing a few more songs, just for one another.
Next week, travel with us as Los Cantantes del Lago leave Michoacán and head for San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. Please join Mexico Cooks! for the second leg of their 2009 Central Mexico Tour.
Except as noted, all photos are courtesy of Robert Kelly. Robert, the designated photographer for Los Cantantes del Lago, has posted many additional photos of the 2009 Central Mexico Tour in these files:
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