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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Covington

Salve Regina

In this season of social distancing, I'm offering a series of virtual micro-concerts for anyone to enjoy. Every Wednesday, I’ll post one fine performance of notable music for women’s voices. The selections and performing groups will be varied and eclectic. Most will be in the 3-5 minute range. Each post will include an audio recording, brief notes, text & translation and, when practical, a PDF copy of the score in case you want to follow along.


Listen to this week's music and see the score in the Listening Room.



This week we return to the late 20th c. with this little gem by Spanish composer, Javier Busto.

About the Composer

Javier Busto was born in 1949 in Hondarriba, Spain. He was trained as a medical doctor at Valladolid University and taught himself music. In 1995 he founded the Kanta Cantemus Korua women's choir and became known internationally as a composer and choral conductor.

Busto has presented his compositions at the Fourth World Symposium on Choral Music in Sydney, Australia in 1996, and was guest conductor of the Tokyo Cantat in 2000. His choirs have won first place awards in France, Italy, Austria, and Germany. Busto has served on the jury of composition and choral competitions in Spain, France, Italy and Japan.

About the Text

Salve Regina is one of four Marian antiphons sung at different seasons within the Christian liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. It was written during the Middle Ages and is regarded as anonymous by most musicologists.

About this Performance

This performance is by the superb Cantemus Children’s Choir from Nyíregyháza, Hungary, conducted by Denes Szabó. With this performance, the group was awarded the 23rd European Grand Prix For Choral Singing at the Tolosa International Choral Contest.

About the Composition

Like much of Busto’s music, this piece uses constantly shifting meter, mostly alternating between 3/8, 5/8 and ¾. This gives the work a chant-like quality. Salve Regina opens with a tone cluster built up one note at a time with each pitch receiving one syllable of the words, “Salve Regina.”

This introduces the opening section, a lilting call and response, with each phrase being sung first in unison and then repeated, fully harmonized. Busto makes much use of chord streams—sequences of parallel triads—in this section.

After an intermediary slow section which includes a very careful setting of the words, “fructum ventris tui,” the lilting theme returns. The piece concludes with a return of the building tone cluster, this time using the text, “O dulcis Virgo.” So, the overall plan of the piece is a “mirror” or “arch” form:

For more…

Other Works for SSAA by Javier Busto:

· Magnificat

· Populae meus

· Laudate Dominum

· Bustapi

· Ave Maria gratia plena

· Hodie Christus natus est

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Mitchell Covington is an award-winning composer and conductor who lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent adjudicator for choir competitions and festivals and workshop clinician. He has led choir tours and festivals throughout Europe. Mr. Covington has several choral compositions in print with major U.S publishers and his music has been performed by choirs throughout the U.S and Europe. Mr. Covington is the Founding and current Artistic Director of Voci Women's Vocal Ensemble.

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