As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at GIA, we are delighted to highlight some of the wonderful music from gifted composers who have shared their talent and culture with us and the world!
SERIES & COLLECTIONS
Tu Pueblo Canta
Meaning “Your people sing,” Tu Pueblo Canta celebrates the fundamental elements of community, faith, and song in Latino/a culture. The series explores the rich musical gifts found within the Hispanic Church, highlighting the work of today’s leading Spanish-speaking and bilingual artists and composers.
Caminemos con Jesús
Caminemos con Jesús is a liturgical celebration of the beauty, passion, and vitality of Cuban music. Fusing lyrical Spanish melodies and complex African rhythms in a distinctive call-and-response form, in this groundbreaking project, Tony Alonso creatively and faithfully imagines the liturgical rites, seasons, and texts through the prism of his own Cuban heritage.
ARTISTS & COMPOSERS
A native of Mexico with an international following, Rafael Moreno is one of the most widely recognized Latino artist/composers of religious music today, particularly within the charismatic movement. His songs are sung in masses, retreats, concerts and gatherings all across the U.S. and Latin-America, among them “Sáname,” “Dime, Señor,” and “Con las Manos Vacías,” an offertory song popular among Spanish choirs. From meditative ballads to vallenatos and mariachi boleros to catechetical children’s tunes for the classroom, Rafael has helped an entire hemisphere of Spanish-speaking faithful to pray through song.
Mary Frances Reza
Lovingly referred to as the “godmother” of modern-day Hispanic liturgical music in the U.S., Mary Frances Reza’s contributions to the church are too numerous to count. Hailing from Albuquerque, NM in the heart of the Southwest U.S., her legacy of service as composer, liturgist, and teacher has inspired generations of liturgical music composers. Because of her
dedication to the advancement of bilingual sacred music and unrelenting appreciation for the gifts of the Hispanic community to the church at large, in 2015, the Southwest Liturgical Conference named its award for outstanding contribution in the area of Hispanic music in her honor. GIA is proud to publish several of her works.
The late Eleazar Cortés, who passed away this 5 years ago this month, was indeed one of the great Spanish-language and bilingual liturgical music composers of our time. With an uncanny gift for assembly melody and a keen theological sense, his numerous songs are a staple of the Spanish-language repertoire across the U.S. In 2001, he made an album with WLP, featuring some of his most memorable tunes, including the infectiously exuberant title track, “Alabemos a Dios,” and the vallenato-inspired “Por Tu Misericordia.” His musical setting of Psalm 137, “Si No Me Acuerdo de Ti,” is especially noteworthy for its exquisite art-song treatment of this text of lament. Eleazar was a native of Mexico, a talented mariachi band leader and orchestrator, and spent the bulk of his ministerial career serving in the Bay area of California, including San Juan Bautista mission.
Born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado, Michelle Abeyta is a liturgical songwriter with a lifetime of experience in music ministry, having served as music director in parishes around the Colorado Springs diocese and at Saint Mary’s Cathedral. In addition to her formidable vocal talent, she plays guitar and violin, and in 1994 formed a mariachi to perform before Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day in Denver. Her bilingual compositions reflect a lived reality of bicultural prayer and worship. True to her Hispanic roots, in addition to her liturgical compositions, she has a special love for the golden-era classics of Latin-America, frequently performing these outside of church settings. Her lead vocals may be heard on the compilation collection of bilingual psalms, Aclama Tierra Entera/Sing, All You Lands.
Al Valverde is one of the pioneers of modern bilingual liturgical music, having contributed greatly to the repertoire of the church since the 1980s. His prayerful music is known throughout the Southwestern United States and especially within the Cursillo movement. Retired after 38 years as a band director in the Deming public school system in New Mexico, Al leaves behind a legacy of musical instruction for generations of students and an award-winning mariachi program. In 2015, Al was recognized with the Mary Frances Reza Award for outstanding contribution to Hispanic liturgical music. His songs exhibit a gentle humility and simple prayerfulness, as heard on his 2001 album “Vamos a la Casa del Señor” (Let us go the house of the Lord), and his psalm settings in the collection “Aclama, Tierra Entera/Sing, All You Lands.”
A native of Santa Ana, El Salvador, Mauricio Centeno (1957–2021) enjoyed a long and impressive musical career, much of it in Southern California, where his extensive talents positively impacted the Hispanic music community in lasting ways. A gifted pianist, composer and arranger, Mauricio was known for his ability to unite the faithful through language and style, and for his devotion to mentoring newer generations of artists and music ministers. At the time of his death, Mauricio served as music director for St. Linus Catholic Church and for the U.S. Air Force Base at Fort MacArthur in El Segundo, California. He was also a prolific producer, creating dozens of albums, ranging from liturgical to popular, at his recording studio under his own label, MC Productions, including for the collection “Aclama, Tierra Entera/Sing, All You Lands.” GIA is proud to publish two of his pieces, an exquisite bilingual setting of the Magnificat, “Bienaventurada Eres,” and his bolero-style setting of the Lord’s prayer.
Israel Martínez is the Text Editor for Spanish and Bilingual Worship Resources for GIA Publications. A native of Mexico, he brings over 24 years’ experience to his work in Catholic publishing. In his editorial role at GIA’s WLP division, he oversees the publication of the bilingual missalette “Celebremos/Let Us Celebrate,” the Spanish-language worship insert “Misalito Parroquial,” the presider’s planning guide “Palabras Pastorales,” and various other periodical and stand-alone projects. Israel is also an expert translator, with a formidable linguistic grasp of the complex liturgical lexicon, as can be found on his many translations appearing in marketing and promo material in addition to published editions. GIA is proud to have Israel as part of its team and recognizes the valuable contribution he regularly makes to the Spanish-speaking church of the U.S. through these resources.
Norma Garcia is the Music Editor for Spanish and Bilingual Worship Resources for GIA Publications where she oversees the music selection and layout of the WLP branded bilingual missalette “Celebremos/Let Us Celebrate” and the Spanish-language worship insert “Misalito Parroquial.” Norma has extensive experience as a music director and cantor, serving in the archdiocese of Chicago for over thirty years. In addition to her talents as a flautist, her solo voice is featured on several WLP albums and recordings, among them Eleazar Cortés’ “Alabemos a Dios,” the psalm collection “Aclama, Tierra Entera, and the complete recording of the “Celebremos/Let Us Celebrate” Spanish/bilingual accompaniment. Norma is of Mexican-American descent and brings a passion for Spanish-language and bilingual liturgy to her work. GIA is grateful for the enormous contribution she has made to Spanish-speaking communities over the years.