Today we bring you this interview in exclusive with Moisès Sala, conductor of The Gospel Viu Choir, that will give one of the Masterclasses of the 2nd edition our Gospel Weekend, that will be held in Malgrat de Mar (Barcelona) from 12th to 15th October 2017.
We made him 7 questions that will allow you to know a little bit better this great musician, pianist, conductor and peron, on of the big referents of the Gospel Music in Spain.
1) When did you initiate in the Gospel music?
Since I was a child the religious music was part of my life, thanks to the culture that my parents teached me. I was organist at the church where we habitually assisted for many years, and there I discovered the first adapted Negro Spirituals.
By then I conducted the first Children Choir at Santa Maria’s church, that performed in every celebration and cult. I could also assist to religious singing courses in Montserrat with the monk Gregori Estrada, that allowed me to go deep into this kind of liturgical compositions. It was in a later period, in 1995, where I started to work deeply in the gospel culture, its meaning and form, its esthetic and harmonic richness. But it was at the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York where I absolutely connected with this style, for its potential and message.
This journey was a turning point, where I improved in my arrangements, compositions and dig deeply in the liturgical music fact to be able to bring it to a general, global and universal area, not marked by the rituals or dogmas of faith, but only by the power of music, by the universal language of love and of common sense, humanity and solidarity. I believe this amalgam of liturgical and musical influences was the origin of TGV CHOIR, without a doubt.
2) What made you start to teach workshops and masterclasses?
Moisès: Some choirs of the area liked the work I depeloped with TGV CHOIR and asked me for some classes and extraordinary sessions to know better the Gospel music. In a very short time, what began as something anecdotal finally has crossed borders, becoming an aliquot part of GOSPEL SENSE FRONTERES (Gospel Without Borders, his solidary project to help children in disadvantaged situation), in addition to conferences, classes in different Universities, to national and international choirs in Europe, Africa, India, and in a few days, in Georgia (Tbilisi) in an international competition.
3) Tell us a Gospel song that means something special for you and why.
Moisès: Don’t Cry, by Kirk Franklin. This song was released in 2002 and was the last boost to create TGV CHOIR. It is the emblem of TGV CHOIR since the group had enough experience not only to perform it, but to live it in first person. I believe that this way is how gospel arrives and impacts in the peoples hearts: when the background comes to the front page, when the emotion gives trembling to the voice, when the soul fills with the necessary vocal technique to universalize itself through music. The gospel music, like the music in general, without heart is just pure math. The magic arises when you humanize it. If you make this math imperfect, you create art and emotions.
Don’t Cry, in the version of The Gospel Viu Choir (arr.Moisès Sala)
4) What fills you more, to work with spirituals and the classic Gospel or experiment with the new Gospel music of the 21st Century?
Moisès: I could not understand ones without the others. They are not different styles, but the evolution of the origins and its adaptation to the modern times. There is not an actual gospel and an old gospel. Each period was actual in its moment, reaching the inside of the people in the ways that prevailed in each time. The same message has changed its rhythm, enriching itself with new harmonies and improvisations. But the root is the same. Like a tree that could not give its fruits without a powerful root, we could not understand the the actual gospel without a deep study and knowledge of its evolution to the first african tribal songs, the Protestant liturgy and its natural fusion in the negro spirituals in North American plantations. Actually at TGV CHOIR we perform what we call URBAN GOSPEL, modern music and rhythm according to the last international trends. But our work comes from the origins: from 2002 to 2004 we were two complete years working in the culture of gospel music, away form stages when the “fashion” of this genre started in Spain. In 2004 we first performed with the show MARCHIN’ TO FREEDOM, completely a capella, integrated by african themes and negro spirituals. It was first in 2006, after our work with the legendary GOLDEN GATE QUARTET, when we made a step more into the 20th century gospel, the popular, the one that the people know. Then we added our five musicians, when we performed with SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR, JOYFUL GOSPEL SINGERS, NORTHERN KENTUCKY BROTHERHOOD SINGERS and others that enriched us and helped us in this evolution. In 2010 we made a step more with SPIRITUALS, an a capella and piano show, very far from gospel, that went deep into the work of composers like MOSES HOGAN and others that work in a very special way the new trend of spirituals, the natural evolution of those far away negro spirituals from slavery. And in 2012 we continued our evolution with NON STOP GOSPEL, our URBAN GOSPEL, new music, from the 21st century, risky, unknown at this moment and tremendously thrilling. This natural evolution brought us in 2016 to RELOAD, pure funky, frenetic rhythm, impossible chromatisms and high voltage connection. As you can see, every show is an evolution of the previous one and becomes part of a GLOBAL EVERYTHING. What began in 2002 with IPHARADISI, a ritual song used in the South African ceremonies has evolved to Donald Lawrence in its TGV CHOIR version.
5) Who are your gospel composers of reference?
Moisès: Many authors have influenced me in my way of arrange and compose, and as I told you before, the amalgam of all this natural evolution has become the URBAN GOSPEL style in my workshops and in TGV CHOIR. Maybe my most important influence was Kirk Franklin, whom I rediscovered with DON’T CRY, released in 2002, and that somehow created TGV CHOIR. Actually authors like DONALD LAWRENCE, BYRON CAGE, KURT CARR, DONNIE McCLURKIN are the ones that are influencing me in those last projects. l
Without any doubt MILTON R. BRUNSON from Chicago, his particular form of understanding the choir, prioritize the little details, to unite music with the most primitive human sense. As well CAROL CYMBALA, from Brooklyn NY. Two ways very different but so brilliant and unique to give life to a choir.
7) What brings gospel music to your life?
Moisès: It is complex, because the gospel music doesn’t understand of mid terms. It is a style that with the limits and overpasses them. Not only in its musical esthetic, also in its melodies and harmonic constructions, and as well in the personal life, feelings and emotions. In the gospel music doesn’t exist an arithmetic mid term: it brings you to the highest or it makes you close in yourself. The great challenge of gospel is adapt it to your daily life, live it in first person, be coherent and give common sense to all your acts. The mistakes that we make, the ones that I make in my life are huge; we fall over and over again and suddenly the gospel music itself is the one that doesn’t let you see any further, the one that locks you away. And this happens because gospel speaks about life, about death, the everyday routine, love , pain and hope. Gospel is a part of you, but not because of this is special. You are the one that can make it special with your acts, your emotions, your pain, your break-ups, your reconciliations, in your family and friends circle, in your entire life.
If you want to join us in this 2nd edition of the Gospel Weekend from 12th to 15th October 2017 in Malgrat de Mar (Barcelona) and know Moisès Sala in first person and learn with him, you’re still on time! You can get your ticket online at www.gospelweekend.com or drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.