The term “Euskal Herria” defines the people who have “Euskera” (Basque) as their language. However, we prefer to use “Euskel” rather than the conventional “Euskal” because the fact that it appears in that form in the 16th century manuscript penned by Juan Pérez de Lazarraga somehow invites us to reflect on how words change over time, whereas the underlying reality to which they refer – in this case, the people whose common language gives expression to a particular socio-cultural world – remains unchanged.
Basque art, incomparably rich in its influences, has given us above all a great quantity of popular music. The Basques are an eminently musical people, and this is one of the reasons why early music can be be a valuable vehicle for conveying the Basque legacy to the world – a world of disparaging labels which have failed to fairly represent many peoples with a rich cultural heritage, but who have been sidestepped by the world’s mainstream classification systems. This new window on the world of culture called “early music” gathers together the music and literature of other ages, revealing how high culture and popular culture often to a large extent shared a common space as well as the fact that so-called early music is the natural heir to popular music. The breadth and variety of the Basque songbook, and the country’s art forms such as literature, dance, painting and bertsolarismo, as well as classical music, of course, is in stark contrast to its presence in the artistic circles to which they naturally belong. Contrary to the opinion held in some quarters, Basque culture has always played a pioneering role in the field of art. In music, for example, as early as the 14th century it contributed to the development of musical notation, and in Renaissance times the Basque Country boasted some great composers, including Antxieta and Bizkargi, among others. In literature, there is a little-known but nevertheless substantial and varied body of Renaissance poetry in Basque (Etxepare, Lazarraga, Leizarraga…)
We wish to thank all the artists without whose talent and personal commitment this project would obviously not have been possible. The members of Euskal Barrokensemble have been overwhelmed by the selfless enthusiasm that each artist has brought to the enterprise. A totally altruistic art devoted to the pursuit of happiness. Eskerrik asko.
Izaskun, Klarita and company, from the Chapel of San Blas de Tolosa.
To amama, aitite, amona, Kontxi, Irene and Juantxo.
To Kristina Martija, Patri Urkizu, Jon Bagües, Eresbil (Basque Music Archives), the Etxepare Institute and the Basque Government.
And to all those whose help and collaboration have made this Project possible.
ENRIKE SOLINÍS & MIREN ZEBERIO
Translation: Jacqueline Minett