Move over, Ennio Morricone. While the master Italian film composer provided a moving and memorable score to Roland Joffé’s 1986 film The Mission , the story of Spain’s imperial and religious ambitions deep in the heart of South America has its own authentic soundtrack.

El Mundo

Whether it was in the Bolivian rainforest or in larger cities of the new world, music from the old world exerted a considerable influence, particularly in the religious sphere. Take, for example, Guatemala, where the city’s cathedral boasts a musical archive containing hundreds of compositions by Spanish and local composers. 

Amongst the native composers were Manuel José Quiroz and Rafael Antonio Castellanos, who both served as maestro de capella of the cathedral during the 18th century. These composers took inspiration from the xácara dance form with its own catchy rhythms and harmonies. The results are sprightly, charming devotional pieces, some dedicated to the Christ child, sung with obvious affection by members of El Mundo. 

Of the Spanish...