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California Mission Music, Santa Barbara’s de la Guerra Family Topics of Local Lectures

Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation provides closer look at key eras in California's past

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation will present the Sounds and Stories from Early California Lecture Series. Professor Craig Russell Ph.D. will present “California Mission Music: An Exploration of Styles and Musicians” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8 in the Presidio Chapel at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, 123 E. Canon Perdido.

At 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16, Louise Pubols Ph.D. will present “Becoming Californio: Jokes, Broadsides and a Slap in the Face” in Casa De la Guerra, 15 E. De la Guerra St.

Russell, author of the Oxford University Press publication, From Serra to Sancho: Music and Pageantry in the California Missions, will share tales and music from his research on this fascinating epoch in American music history. Russell explores the exquisite sacred music that flourished on the West Coast when it was under Spanish and Mexican rule; it delves into the historical, cultural, biographical and stylistic aspects of California mission music during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

From Serra to Sancho reveals how mellifluous plainchant, reverent hymns, spunky folkloric ditties, “classical” music in the style of Haydn, and even Native American drumming were interwoven into a tapestry of resonant beauty. Russell draws upon hundreds of primary documents to bring the mystery of California’s mission music into sharper focus.

Russell, a professor in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Music Department, is steeped in the music of the Hispano-American world, having published more than 100 articles in the field. He collaborated with Chanticleer on four compact disks — two of which received Gramophone Award nominations. His compositions have been performed worldwide, including major orchestral concerts in Carnegie Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Sydney Opera House and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Author of the University of California Press publication, The Father of All: The de la Guerra Family, Power and Patriarchy in Mexican California, Pubols will present stories from her rich and nuanced study of a key family in California’s past: the de la Guerras. Amid sweeping economic and political changes, including the U.S. Mexican War, the de la Guerra family continually adapted and reinvented themselves.

This absorbing narrative is much more than the history of an elite and powerful family, however. Pubols analyzes the region’s trading and provisioning economy and clarifies its volatile political rivalries. By tracing a web of business and family relationships, Pubols shows in practical terms how patriarchy functioned from generation to generation in Spanish and Mexican California. This is the first of a series of books on western history to be co-published by the Huntington Library and University of California Press.

The cost of each lecture is $10 for Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation nonmembers and $5 for students. The lectures are free for SBTHP members.

Click here for more information on the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, or call 805.965.0093.

— Christa Clark Jones represents the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

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