A children’s choir from Tlaxcala that sings in a dialect of the endangered Otomí language has received an invitation to perform for Pope Francis in Vatican City. But there’s a catch: flights are not included.
Voces Yumhu (Yumhu Voices) is made up of 26 boys and girls from the municipality of Ixtenco, the only place in the country where the dialect is spoken. But so far the choir only has enough money for 10 tickets.
Choir representative Eloy Romero Vázquez explained to the newspaper Milenio that Mexico’s ambassador to the Holy See extended an invitation to perform at an event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the Vatican. It will take place on September 21 at the Basilica of Sant’Andrea.
In the invitation, the ambassador described the presence of the choir as an opportunity to show “another face of our rich Mexico . . . our children and one of its roots, the indigenous one.” But the Mexican government representative at the Vatican sent neither airline tickets nor funds with which to purchase them.
Initial excitement among choir members has now turned to concern as the date approaches.
“I don’t know if I’m going because they’re not raising [the money] for the tickets,” sobbed one choir member.
His mother said that most people in the area work in agriculture, making it difficult for them to finance the trip, and that they were looking for ways to raise money such as holding raffles.
The Tlaxcala government has offered the free use of a theater in the state capital for a fundraising concert while the Mexican community in Rome has offered accommodation and food to the visiting party, should they manage to make the journey to represent their community and country on an international stage and in the process, breathe new life into a dying language.
“The intention of this choir is to rescue the Otomi language through a series of traditional Mexican songs . . . the youngest speaker I know is 70-something years old so it’s in serious danger of being lost,” said 13-year-old Uriel Ángel, a choir member who is also its chief translator.
“It doesn’t feel like . . . singing in Spanish, you feel something very different . . . every language has its tonality.”
On the repertoire of more than 30 songs the choir performs — all translated into Otomí — are Besáme Mucho, Solamente Una Vez and a version of John Lennon’s Imagine.
Source: Milenio (sp)