"Cortejo" for brass quintet by Kerry Turner has been added to the IHS Online Music Library.
The word "cortejo" means cortege or funeral procession in Spanish. A passacaglia is a musical form that originated in early seventeenth-century Spain and is still used by contemporary composers. It is usually of a serious character and is often, but not always, based on a bass-ostinato. It was however in contemplating the meaning of the word "passacaglia"- pasar (to walk) and calle (street), that the composer drew upon the idea to incorporate the old U.S. Western folksong "Cowboys Lament" or "As I walked out on the streets of Laredo."
The story of this folksong is about a young and handsome cowboy in the old Texas-Mexican border town of Laredo, who after a night of wild living and drunkenness, gets shot in the chest, and wrapped in white linen, is paraded through the streets. The locals would have called it a "Cortejo" (pronounced korteho.)
The piece begins with a characteristically tragic passacaglia theme, which is heard in some shape or form almost throughout the entire work. The "Cowboys Lament" is subtly introduced in the stopped horn. The secondary theme arrives after the fourth repetition of the passacaglia theme, and is declamatory in nature. This sets the stage for the adventurous third section of the piece marked "allegro vivo." At this point in the work, the listener may draw on his or her imagination to create the scenario, which leads to the cowboy's death. The various themes and motives are woven together to create a sort of narrative, the climax of which is the dramatic and bitter cortege- cortejo.
"As I walked out on the streets of Laredo. As I walked out in Laredo one day, I spied a young cowboy, so young and so handsome, wrapped up in white linen and cold as the grave." (first verse of "The Cowboy's Lament".)
"Cortejo" was commissioned by the Ni Ensemble, with a grant from the Ministry of Culture of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and was composed in September 2011.