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The Folger Spotlight

ENCORES: Selections from ‘Christmas in New Spain’ performed by Folger Consort (2013)

Folger ENCORES, red theater seats fading into darkness
Folger ENCORES, red theater seats fading into darkness

Folger Public Programs is pleased to present ENCORES, a weekly online series highlighting past performances and recalling the rich history of programming on the historic Folger stage. As many arts and cultural institutions remain closed during this time, these ENCORES provide a way to connect and revisit the breadth of Folger offerings with a wider audience.

ENCORES presents

Folger Consort
“Dennos lecencia señores” and “Niño il mijor que y logrado” sourced from the Trujillo Codex
Performed as part of Christmas in New Spain: Early Music of Mexico and Peru
Recorded December 2013
For more information, including text and translations, visit Folgerpedia

Performed by

  • Robert Eisenstein, Viol/Violin
  • Risa Browder, Violin
  • Paula Fagerberg, Spanish Double Harp
  • Anna Marsh, Bassoon
  • Mary SpringfelsViol
  • Charles Weaver, Guitar
  • Tom ZajacPercussion


  • Cathedra, the Washington National Cathedral’s chamber vocal ensemble

The full digital album is available to purchase on Amazon Music and iTunes.

Beginning today, you can stream this year’s virtual holiday concert on demand through January 5.

A beloved seasonal tradition and “the best Christmas concert in Washington” (DCist), our 2020 concert features German holiday favorites, paired with traditional English and American Yuletide songs from the early music period.

Access to this joyous program starts at $25. Click here to purchase your ticket, or call our Box Office at 202.544.7077.

Read the introduction by Folger Consort Manager David Mozur:

Hello and welcome to Folger ENCORES. I’m David Mozur, Folger Consort Manager. We’ve been sharing selections from our plays, music and other programs with you in this ENCORES series.

This week, we’re revisiting music from the December 2013 Consort performance of Christmas in New Spain.

This performance is an excellent example of how the Folger Consort’s programming can embrace all types of early music to reflect different cultures. The music we performed at this concert comes from the nuanced, and in so many ways, unjust, society during this era of Latin American history. Sacred music, including music celebrating Christmas, was an important tool for European evangelism and colonialism throughout the Americas.

The two excerpts from our Christmas in New Spain we are sharing come from the Trujillo Codex, also known as the Codex Martinez Compañon. The Trujillo Codex is a thoroughly indexed document, compiled in Trujillo, Peru, in the 1780s. It’s a remarkable historical source— it includes the sheet music of 20 songs, as well as over 1,400 watercolors that depict what colonial life was like in this large Peruvian city, including the lives of the more than 100,000 people of African descent, both enslaved and freed, the indigenous populations, and Spanish colonialists.

The images in the Trujillo Codex show that everyone in this diverse society made music, on imported instruments from Africa such as the marimba, and also Baroque European instruments that are still a part of South American music. It is one of the most important sources of dance music from the various cultures that were coming together in Peru. This is music that would have been heard in the streets of the cities in the 18th century, music played by all and music that shared and built community.

You’ll hear the dance-like characteristics in our two excerpts, “Dennos lecencia señores” and “Niño il mijor que y logrado.” We include the original written music from the Codex in the slideshow that accompanies the music, and you might notice that both were written “al nacimiento del Christo” – for the birth of Christ. The text of the first song, “Dennos lecencia, ” asks for permission to dance and sing in celebration of Christmas.

Just as in the images in the Trujillo Codex, our arrangement includes fiddles, guitar, Spanish double harp, lively percussion, as well as vocalists. Although nearly 250 years old, the chord progressions, melodies, and infectious dance rhythms sound entirely contemporary and show just how timeless this music is.

We hope that you will enjoy this small sample of Christmas in New Spain – if you are interested in hearing more, the Christmas is New Spain CD is available online on Amazon , iTunes, and Google music. Please join us again for these weekly episodes of ENCORES, highlighting all that the Folger has to offer.


Encores LogoCheck back each Friday for a new “from the archives” performance, introduced by some of our favorite artists, showcasing the best of Folger TheatreFolger ConsortO.B. Hardison Poetry, and lectures.


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