Update March 16, 2020: In light of current state restrictions as well as OHA and CDC recommended precautions to keep our community safe and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak in the region, we will be postponing this project with hopes to reschedule for later this spring.
This project, EL AGUA DE MI SER, is a collaboration between Latin folk artist Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba, the Camas High School Choir under the direction of Ethan Chessin, and arts education nonprofit Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington.
The choir will be performing all new music, composed by Mendoza specifically for this collaboration. Building on the success of a composer-in-residence partnership Young Audiences has fostered between contemporary artists working in the music industry and the Camas High School Choir since 2016, Mendoza has been working with Chessin and his students this school year to create an original performance for a rock band, woodwinds and 200 high school singers.
EL AGUA DE MI SER will draw from themes explored on Y La Bamba’s MUJERES, including the complexity of bicultural childhood — from summers in California and strict Catholicism to mariachi and machismo. The piece is certain to be informed, too, by its context in the Eurocentric choral music world (as well as the predominantly white Pacific Northwest). For Mendoza the collaboration is an “invitation” to students to work towards understanding her roots and modes of expression through music and Spanish language. Through the creation process and this sharing of cultural history, Mendoza also hopes to inspire her collaborators (and audiences) to show up for oppressed communities.
“This body of work is about the traumas in Mexico’s history and the US and how classism affects the value of the people in both countries,” says Mendoza.
About Luz Elena Mendoza
Luz Elena Mendoza is a songwriter, guitarist, and frontwoman of Latin folk group Y La Bamba, based in Portland. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she infuses American folk with elements from the traditional Mexican music that soundtracked her childhood, producing songs that are as culturally rich as they are affecting. National Public Radio named Y La Bamba’s OJOS DEL SOL one of the ten best albums of 2016. Y La Bamba’s most recent album, MUJERES, which Mendoza produced, is on the top ten of the Billboard Latin Pop Albums Chart and is widely acclaimed for its “formal inventiveness” (Pitchfork).
About the Camas High School Choir
The Camas High School Choir, led by Director Ethan Chessin, has collaborated with Luke Wyland of AU, Kelly Pratt of Beirut, and now Luz Elena Mendoza of Y La Bamba to produce unique musical projects over the past four years through Young Audiences’ custom program.
About Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington
This collaboration is one of many arts education programs facilitated by Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington. Young Audiences offers a full range of educational arts programming in multiple disciplines and cultures and serves over 70,000 students in more than 200 schools and community sites each year. The organization supports a roster of talented teaching artists, bringing them into collaboration with schools for artist residencies, workshops and performances; and partners with local schools, arts organizations, artists and community members to inspire young people and expand their learning through the arts.
This project is sponsored by The Standard and Biamp Systems, and supported by a Creative Heights award from the Oregon Community Foundation.
Mendoza and the choir will perform at Revolution Hall in Portland on April 17, 2020.
Friday, April 17
Doors 7:30 PM, Show 8:30 PM