The Inspiration for Misa Azteca
When people ask me “where did you get the idea to compose Misa Azteca?”, I can give them a definitive answer - on the 5 freeway around Fort Tejon in Central California’s Los Padres National Forrest.

Sometime in the early 90’s, I was driving up the 5 freeway in my Honda Accord and started hearing music in my head. It was a complete symphonic choral piece played with a percussion rhythm that I was familiar with, the aguila blanca (white eagle) dance of the Aztec Danzantes. I knew this from my days at El Teatro Campesino being the music director for a Christmas pageant they performed called “La Virgen Del Tepeyac”. I also knew the text was from the Roman Catholic Latin Mass, the Kyrie, something I learned from my music history professor Dr. Richard Hudson from my days at UCLA. I said to myself, “this is an interesting piece of music because it combines both the music of Meso-America with European music. I wonder who wrote this and where did I hear this before?”. I thought that maybe I had attended a concert of this piece or perhaps it was a listening assignment from being a music major. I thought could this be from one of the Mexican composers, perhaps Carlos Chavez, or Revueltas or a contemporary composer?

As I pondered the composer of the piece I slowly came to the realization that the first movement of Misa Azteca was being delivered to me and being directly injected into my brain. It was so clear. I could hear all the moving choral lines, the orchestral accompaniment and of course the Aztec percussion. I realized that I was the composer of this piece!

With this realization, I became so excited that I began speeding as I was driving. Before I knew it, police car lights went off in my Honda’s rear view mirror. I was pulled over and the policeman said “I clocked you at 94 mph”. My mind was so filled with choirs and orchestras and percussion that I don’t think I said anything - I didn’t want to forget what I was hearing in my head. I just grabbed the ticket, said a quick “thank you, officer” and later that month went to traffic school.

The Journey
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That roller coaster piece of inspiration has led me on a 25 year journey of combining the European Latin Mass and sensibility with native Mexican/Nahuatl beliefs at the time of the Conquest. It combines rhythms, instruments, text, philosophical, metaphysical/existential questions and concerns into a musical concert piece that has now evolved into an 8-movement symphonic oratorio with choir, soloists, orchestra and Aztec percussion. To date, it has performed in some of the most prestigious venues in the world. I could’ve never imagined what that seemingly small kernel of an idea would turn into!!

Here is an important point - I can’t take full responsibility for creating this. I am the co-creator of this with my ever so loyal companion, my “Muse”. Ever since I was young, my Muse has been a faithful and loyal friend. She has always been there whispering great ideas that have led my down some amazing paths. I’ve come to respect my Muse and to heed her whispers, especially the ones I heard on that day driving on the 5 freeway. Following this whisper has led me to the remarkable journey of discovery through the vehicle of Misa Azteca.

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The existential, religious, spiritual ramifications of this small idea are to much to go into now. Just what I have discovered from researching the ancient indigenous poetry of meso-america could fill many blog posts.

The idea of melding philosophies... the way 2 different people and cultures see the world was mind-blowing. However, what the muse was trying to tell me from that flash of inspiration was that there were more things in common then were not and secondly, that with a little bit of effort and inspiration… things that theoretically shouldn’t go together, can actually do so …and in fact, complement one another.

We’ll be updating this website regularly with new blog posts, as well as new pages so check back regularly. Welcome to the world of Misa Azteca… Sincerely, Joseph Julian Gonzalez

Misa Azteca

A Modern, Symphonic Oratorio