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New Mexico mezzo-soprano melds Spanish, Celtic heritage

Cantigas d’Amigo.

Cantigas d’Amigo.

A hybrid of Spanish and Celtic heritage, singer Drea Pressley wanted to piece together a tapestry of both traditions.

Her mother’s side of the family is Spanish. Her father’s is Scottish, Welsh and Irish. It seemed like a collision of opposites.

But, after talking to family members, the New Mexico-born-and-raised musician learned the Spanish side of her lineage came from Galicia.

“Galicia is Celtic from the 4th to the 7th centuries,” said the mezzo-soprano, now based in the Bay Area. “When they were fleeing from the Anglo Saxons, they ended up all over the place.”

Pressley will pair those songs with those of the Spanish Baroque at Chatter Sunday on April 24, at the Las Puertas Event Center.

Her research unveiled a catalog of music set to poetry from Galicia. She designed the arrangements.

“They are all haunting,” she said. “They’re chant-like. They’re all written from the point of view of a woman – a woman waiting for her lover to return. I get the feeling he’s a sailor and a soldier.”

The medieval poetic genre is called cantigas d’amigo or songs about my boyfriend.

Pressley also chose music from the Spanish Baroque by Juan Hidalgo, José Marin and Manuel De Falla.

Pressley will play the harp and the hurdy-gurdy, a wheel-turned fiddle.

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