Latin Inspirations


Vocalist Biella Da Costa

FANS OF CONTEMPORARY music will find huge bang for the buck at the Collegiate Chorale’s performance next week at Carnegie Hall.  On the program are two major choral works inspired by cultures of Latin America: the New York premiere of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 7, known as the “Toltec,” and Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov’s 1996 Oceana, also a New York premiere, a work the composers says reflects “water and longing, light and hope, [and] the immensity of South America's nature and pain… transmuted into pure musical symbols.”

The vocalist in question is Venezuelan jazz star Biella Da Costa, who though classically trained also performs rock, blues, and Venezuelan and other Latin music, in additional to jazz and contemporary classical music.   We caught up with Da Costa recently.

CLASSICAL TV:  Biella, you command so many styles—jazz, rock, and blues, as well as more so-called “classical” forms.  Can you say why you like to maintain such a broad range—how it benefits and pleases you as an artist? 

BIELLA DA COSTA: I am inspired to sing music, beautiful music, powerful music--no matter if it's rock, jazz or classical. I wanted to sound good and have freedom to express my feelings through the different sensations when I sing. I also like the connection with spiritual aspects.  

CTV:  When you consider a “classical” work or project, what kinds of qualities do you look for in it?

BDC: Well, I like beautiful melodies and interesting harmonies, and powerful texts or stories.

CTV:  What is it Oceana that you like so much?    What special qualities do Golijov and his work bring the contemporary music scene?

BCD: I am proud to collaborate in Osvaldo's works. Oceana is so powerful-- you can feel South America and its people, the loneliness, the sea, the beauty, the joy and the sadness.  Osvaldo is a gifted and dedicated composer. And he is not afraid to create a demon or an angel with his music.

For more about the Collegiate Chorale and its upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall, go here.