California mission music
- William J. Summers
The colonization of Alta California (now the state of California, begun in 1769 by Franciscan missionaries, resulted in the establishment of a chain of 21 missions (the first of which was at San Diego) by 1823. These missions, each centred on a church, were the most prosperous and populated settlements in northern New Spain. Every one had a library and undertook the schooling of Indian residents. Collections of string, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments were amassed at each mission. Choirs and orchestras, some of significant size, were trained, often to a level of considerable proficiency. The surviving sacred-music manuscripts constitute the most extensive and diverse body of plainchant and polyphony from any of Spain's colonies in the contiguous 48 states. Research has shown that much of the polyphonic music was brought to California from Spain and Mexico....