Diana will be presenting the following interest session at the ACDA Eastern Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on Friday, March 9th: “Crossing South of the Border: Expanding our Choral Repertoire” 
Our jobs as choral conductors and music educators is more relevant now than ever. In times when cultural walls are being built around us we must do our best to help tear them down with love and understanding. When presenting music from other cultures to our singers, we have a responsibility to avoid stereotyping. To avoid stereotyping, conductors need to acquire a deeper understanding of the music beyond the musical notation. It is important to understand the circumstances in which it was created, for whom it was created and for what purpose.
Just like the birds, music migrates from place to place picking up elements from different continents and cultures. This session is for choral conductors who want to cross borders and expand their repertoire. Participants will learn about the interconnectedness between music from a Latin American point of view. How do we define Latin American music? How can we move beyond the Spanish – English binary view of the U.S.A.’s relationship to Latin America? How is it that a chant created in Cuba is performed in Yoruba, a language from Nigeria?

To better understand the diversity and complexity of Latin American music we will explore the concept of ‘tranculturation’, a term proposed by Fernando Ortiz, a Cuban ethnologist, in 1947 to describe the process of converging cultures. Transculturation “refers to the encounter between or among cultures in which each culture acquires or adapts elements of the other(s) or in which new cultural elements are created.”

In addition to learning about the history of the music, participants will get a chance to sight read music from different styles, composers and historical periods. Conductors will come out encouraged to build new bridges of understanding between imposed borders.

For details, visit the ACDA Conference website.

These days Diana is working as Visiting Choir Director of the Knox College Choir and Madrigal Singers at Knox College in Galesburg, Il.

Diana conducting the Knox College Choir during the Martin Luther King Convocation on January 15, 2018

Diana was a guest presenter at the 1st American Symposium of Choral Music in San Juan, Argentina. She presented the lecture From Puerto Rico to Argentina: the challenges of teaching folkloric music to your choir and led a sight singing session as part of the forum, which was attended by choral musicians and conductors from all over the Americas.

I’m happy to announce my new website. Please browse it and let me know what you think!

This traditional Venezuelan children’s song is arranged in the joropo style-a ¾ Venezuelan rhythm from the plains. The singers imitate the sounds of the Venezuelan harp and the cuatro (a four-stringed guitar). The piece is sung in the native language with a translation and pronunciation guide provided.

The “Plena” is an early twentieth-century Afro-Puerto Rican rhythm that was also a popular musical form among sugar-cane workers. The rhythm has its roots in West Africa, and in Diana Sáez’s engaging original work, the singers establish the rhythm in a clever introduction. The piano accompaniment employs salsa rhythms, hand percussion adds to the textures, and the singers alternate between dance-like melodies and rhythmic improvisations.

Diana Sáez has become one of the leading arrangers of stylistically authentic music from South America, and this traditional song from the Andes Mountains of Peru is another fine example. With a piano part that beautifully captures the spirit of a Latin American guitar and vocal lines that are both tuneful and rhythmic, young singers will be delighted by this lovely folk song.

This chant melody was brought to America from West Africa and is meant to be sung as a meditation. Pedal notes should sound like a drone that supports the melody. It all leads to an experience for the singers and listeners that is fully grounded in its origins and ethnic roots.

The text is:

Yemaya Assessu
Assessu yemaya
Yemaya olodo
Olodo yemaya.

In English, it means:

A celebration of the moment when the river meets the ocean.
Yemaya is the goddess of the ocean and the mother of all goddesses.

Niños y jóvenes se presentaron en el III Festival Distrital de Coros, bajo la dirección de Diana Saez y músicos de la Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá.