CANTIGA has delighted visitors to Renaissance Festivals across North America with their magical music for almost 30 years.
The word CANTIGA means 'song' in the language of Alfonso X, the 13th century Spanish king whose royal court was a haven for Christian, Muslim, and Jewish musicians.
We are dedicated to the spirit of musical improvisation which has flourished in such cultural crossroads throughout history and continues to be celebrated in today's Global Village.
"I must say you've outdone yourselves with "Martha's Dragon." Every CD by Cantiga and the NWRB has simply captivated me! And the delight grows with each listening."
WDVR FM, Sergeantsville, NJ
"Their music is fresh enough to listen to in any setting, yet it gives that warm, old world feeling of times gone by...of loves lost and gained...of celebrations...of the taming of dragons! Martha's Dragon is history and freshness all wrapped into one beautiful musical package! Bravo!-"
Overall Rating - 10 out of 10
Notes for the tunes on "Martha's Dragon":
1. CANTIGA 108
This cantiga, a 13th century song from Alfonso X's 'Cantigas de Santa Maria' tells a bizarre story involving Merlin the Magician, a Jewish wise man and Santa Maria.
2. MARTHA'S DRAGON
St. Martha is known for taming, not for slaying her dragon. This tune was written by Bob Bielefeld in the early 1990's.
A medieval Andalusian melody brought to light by Julián Ribera y Tarragó (1858-1934).
Part of our legacy from Cantiga fiddler Malcolm Smith (1951-1996), this tune began life as a playful response to too many choruses of 'It's a Long, Long Way from Clare to Here', and morphed into our favorite jam tune.
5. VALLE DE LO ALTO
We first heard this melody performed by the Andean band Pachacamac and were delighted to discover that it was written by Conrado "Charry" Garcia, our newest member. Charry wrote this tune in Chile in the 1980's. Valle de lo Alto means 'High Valley'.
6. WHITE PETTICOAT A LA TURK
Mark became fixated on odd time signatures after borrowing Bob's book of Bulgarian tunes, and an innocent Irish jig in 6/8 slipped into 7!
These two bourées were published by German composer Michael Praetorius in his collection of French court and country dance music 'Terpsichore' (1612).
A well-known ancient air also published in 'Terpsichore'. We dedicate this dance to the Court Dancers of Scarborough Faire.
9. BRANLE DE BOURGOGNE
This 16th century French dance tune by Adrian Le Roy alternates four and six-measure phrases. Mark discovered it on a recording of Early Music from the '70s.
10. ERES AGUEDA GLORIOSA
We learned this Spanish Renaissance melody for Jeff Baldwin of the Texas Renaissance Festival, who chose it for his production 'Masque of the Conquistadors'. This song is a serenade of love to the beautiful Agueda, who appears to her suitor as radiant as an angel in the midst of her nine sisters.
A tarantella, popular with whistling Sicilianos. The fischietto is the Italian version of the penny-whistle. Fischiettando means 'whistling'.
This perky little tune is from John Playford's 'The English Dancing Master' , in print from 1651 to 1728.
The Members of Cantiga are:
Wood Flute, Fife
Charango, Percussion (Birimbao, Caxixi, Semilla, Triangle), Toyos (bass pan-pipes)
Also featured on this album,
special guest artist Jamal Mohamed,
Percussion: Doumbeks (Middle Eastern Goblet drums), Djembe (West African Goblet drum) Riq (Egyptian tambourine), Mazhar (Egyptian Frame drum).
Original Cover painting for Martha's Dragon by illustrator Richard Hull.
A Review from Ted Young, New York:
"For those not familiar with their work, Cantiga brings together music from all over medieval and renaissance Europe.
Cantiga¹s fourth CD continues to preserve their enchanting sound while bringing us new and exciting songs. Conrado Garcia, Cantiga¹s newest member, and guest star, Jamal Mohamed, add a new dimension to the group with their subtle additions of charango, toyos, doumbek, and more.
As with their past works, 'Martha¹s Dragon' is full of lively, upbeat music from long ago played with amazing skill. The title track comes to life with a vibrant bass and rhythm. Conrado¹s beautiful Andean composition, Valle de lo Alto, is combined with Cantiga¹s style creating an inspirational fusion. And White Petticoat a là Turk is a traditional Irish jig performed in 7/8 giving it a Turkish flare and providing another example of Cantiga¹s remarkable creativity.
I would highly suggest treating yourself to these twelve lovely songs,especially if this is your first Cantiga CD. And if you don¹t own a CD player, it is worth buying it just for the stunning cover art."
Reviewer: Ted Young, who enjoys Cantiga performances each summer at the Sterling Renaissance Faire in Oswego New York.