Unpublished interview with Maria Felicia Pérez



Cuban audience could enjoy María Felicia Perez’s performance during the Misa Cubana (Cuban Mass) by the master José María Vitier, transmitted by the Cuban television. María Felicia Perez is the director of the choir Exaudi

Today I want to share with our readers this conversation about her participation in recognized Album productions in the Cuban isle.

María Felicia, Esteban Salas has an important place in the musical activities of the choir Exaudi. What is your opinion about this Cuban musician and composer?

 When we refer to Esteban Salas we always qualify him as our first musician with a career as composer. The career starts since he takes the position as the master of the choir of the cathedral of Santiago de Cuba.

In Latin American music his name has a great repercussion. We have the honor to count on this figure whose music opened the path to all composers of the XIX century, who also did much religious music, as well as Salas did.

He was a priest; he composed for the Villancicos office, as well as with music that is part of the liturgics music that has salves, mass and litanies. All his production is very interesting. There are works not to be conserved in museums, but to take the path many choir have given them to spread his work.

When did you enter Salas´s legacy?

 Since I was very young, as part of the women choir Amadeo Roldán Conservatory. After that, when I could study his music and get in contact with it and understood the reality expressed in books about his great value that honors us, because he was born in Cuba. To spread his music is the task of musicians.

There are various albums dedicated to the work of the master of choir Esteban Salas among Exaudy production. 

Yes, that´s right. We recorded a first album called Esteban Salas, a Cuban Barroco of the XVIII century, which includes a selection of villancicos. I only knew some of them.

After that we did a disk called Música sagrada en Cuba, where Misa en sol menor, requiem and salves are included.

The third disk is called Cantatas de Santiago de Cuba, because it contains some pieces with the style or structure of Italian cantatas.

 How do you feel as singer and director of choir with three dicks dedicated to Esteban Salas´s work?

We have never dedicated to outstand or develop one style in the trajectory of the choir Exaudi. We do renaissance polyphony, music of baroque, romantic, contemporary, Cuban, Latin American. We move into a very wide repertoire. 

But during recordings and tours we could do with Salas´s music I have good memories. I think it is very important to be messengers of this music in Cuba and abroad.

I think it has been a very valuable moment in the career of choir and I feel very proud of it.

In 1992 the Cuban discography acquired prestige with a disk of poems by Mirta Aguirre set to music by José María Vitier. Tell me about that experience.

We recorded in the special period. I remember that for me it was very hard to walk to Egrem Studios in San Miguel every day.

This work was very important for me. I have not made many things as a soloist. That was an opportunity Vitier gave me. He thought I could do these sons. He didn´t want a lyric voice, that is, an opera singer. He wanted a voice closer to a children voice. Then he called me and I started to work that music.

Everything was made with keyboard. There are not acoustic instruments, I think there is a violin in one habanera, but the rest was made by José María Vitier in his house. In the studio we put the voice over the background he had done. 

In this production, musical pieces are performed by you and Pablo Milanés. How was your work experience with Pablo Milanés?

Pablo and I have a couple of duos in the album If I were born again. But we never coincided to do it. They were songs Pablo recorded and I put the second voice afterwards.

Occasionally I sing two, three voices alone. There is a piece called Quíntuples, which is made for quintet.

 What meant for María Felicia Pérez her participation in this production dedicated to children?

 I have never done children music in the choir. In fact, I never thought I would do it. I felt happy because my work came to children, because they are very intelligent and active and they can understand the message of that music.

 It was a very pretty work, very different to what I ever do. My work is with the choir, where I have a great responsibility: mounting and singing. The work I do as soloist is as an oasis, a quiet piece.

I thank José María Vitier for thinking of me. It was the beginning of a path together, because I worked with him together as a soloist in the first recording of the Cuban Mass to the Virgin of la Caridad del Cobre, where also Exaudi sung.

 I also worked with Vitier recording the Salmo de las Americas, a monumental work bigger than Misa. La Misa is another camera work. Salmo is a symphonic work.

The choir also participated and I was one of the soloists called to sing.