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Wednesday@Noon Lecture by Daniel Castro Pantoja: From Europhilia to Indigenísmo: Uribe Holguín’s Bochica

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
12:101 p.m.


Arts Building , Music Rehearsal Hall, ARTS 157
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Wednesday@Noon Lecture

Daniel Castro Pantoja, PhD candidate in musicology, UCR Department of Music

From Europhilia to Indigenísmo:
Uribe Holguín’s Bochica and the Construction of an Indigenous Imaginary in Colombian Art Music

On August 3, 1923, during a public lecture at the national conservatory of music in Bogotá, Colombian composer Guillermo Uribe Holguín (1880–1971), a student of Vincent D’Indy and then director of the national conservatory, embarked on a diatribe against his detractors. Leading the other side of the contention was Emilio Murillo (1880–1942), a composer who understood Colombian music as derived from the essence of the peasant—a metonymy for indigeneity. Unlike his critics, Uribe Holguín set out to “discard, once and for all, the outlandish hypothesis of the indigenous origins of Colombian music, finding it even infantile to discuss such matters.” What Uribe Holguín did not anticipate at the time, was that this lecture, and not his body of work, would grant him a permanent place in the Colombian imaginary: he was judged an enemy of folklore, an unredeemable Europhile.

Nearly two decades after his infamous lecture, however, Uribe Holguín conducted the premiere of his symphonic poem Bochica (1939), a first attempt at representing indigeneity in music. Inspired by a local legend, Uribe Holguín drew from a bag of exotica to depict the story of how Bochica, the civilizing god of the Chibcha-speaking people (personified by an elderly “white” man with a snowy beard who came from the Far East) saved the Chibchas from the flooding of the savannah they inhabited. Filled with allusions to the primitive and the oriental, however, the representational strategies in this orchestral work parallel the discourse that Uribe Holguín had once vehemently criticized.

Based on archival material from the Centro de Documentación Musical and the Fundación Guillermo Uribe Holguín in Bogotá, I will show the complicated cultural landscape in which Colombian, mestizo (racially-mixed) musicians constructed an indigenous imaginary in the early twentieth century. Specifically, I analyze Bochica in relation to discourses about indigeneity by the Colombian elite, which I argue were partially built upon Latin American orientalist practices. Finally, I explore the manner in which scholars have fashioned Uribe Holguín’s persona into that of an anti-nationalist composer, and look to understand the role of Europhilia in the creation of a national postcolonial project.

Daniel Castro Pantoja is a PhD candidate in musicology at the University of California, Riverside. His research interests revolve around Latin American art music and its relation to nationalism, indigenism, folklore, and popular music. His current research deals with the life and work of the Colombian composer Guillermo Uribe Holguín (1880–1971) and his role in the formation of a national music identity in Colombia. Daniel, a native of Colombia, has published in the Trans-Revista Transcultural de Música journal and in Latin American Research Review. He was also part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Museum Studies Program, where he worked for both the Latino Center and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. While conducting his dissertation research, he taught in the graduate music program at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, and he is currently finishing his degree with the support of a grant provided by the Colombian Ministry of Culture.

• The Wednesday@Noon Series offers concerts, lectures, and presentations of academic research by Department of Music faculty, postdoctoral researchers, students, and international guest artists and scholars. Ian Dicke, coordinator for Fall 2017

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