NEW ARTICLE (ENG): "Contemporary Organs in Panama City”, in: "The Organ”, No 403, February-April 2023
Szostak Michał, "Contemporary Organs in Panama City", in: "The Organ”, No 403, February-April (Winter) 2023, Musical Opinion Ltd, London, ISSN 0030-4883, pp. 6-19.
Following the path of describing some of my musical experiences and impressions from South and Latin Americas gained during a 17-day recital tour in June of 2022, this article describes two contemporary organs I met in Panama City. Admittedly, the organ landscape in Latin America is not broad, but the topic is worthy of consideration from organ building and organ music perspectives. The historical Spanish influences, domination of the Roman Catholic church and equator-type weather are the main determinants of the Panamian organ landscape and our considerations. The Republic of Panama is a transcontinental country traversing the southern part of North America and the northern part of South America. Costa Rica borders it to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the south, and the Caribbean Sea to the north. Its capital and largest town is Panama City, with the metropolitan area being home to nearly half the country’s population, estimated at 4.3 million citizens in total. Around 65% of the population is Mestizo (mixed white, Native American), 12% Native American, 9% Black or African descent, 7% mulatto, and 7% White. Spanish is the official and dominant language, although the language spoken in Panama is known as Panamanian Spanish. The culture of Panama derives from European traditions brought by the Spanish in the 16th century (this is the first factor determining the Panamian organ landscape). Hegemonic powers have created hybrid forms merging African and Native American cultures with European culture. European musical traditions belong to the Iberian Peninsula and then to the population who were brought over, first as enslaved people from West Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries and then voluntarily (from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Trinidad, Saint Lucia) to work on the Panamanian Railroad and Canal projects between the 1840s and 1914. The local folklore can be experienced via many festivals revealing dances and traditions handed down from generation to generation. In addition, local cities host many live music festivals and performances, and audiences participate in cultural events with great interest and warm emotions.