Donna Peña

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Many parishes and schools have jumped into bilingual liturgies without much agita because they included a bilingual item that has become popular in the music programs of American parishes. That composition is, of course, "Digo Si, Señor/I Say Yes, Lord," the appealing Spanish and English piece with one of the most singable melodies in the GIA catalog. Its composer, Donna Peña, exhibits a strong understanding of melodic construction that is attractive and endurable. "Digo Si, Señor/I Say Yes, Lord" has been sung by thousands of musicians at national conventions and by a third grade class at a prayer vigil. No matter the size of the group, the music and the text provide a contagious faith acclamation.

Donna Peña resides in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. Speaking strongly to and for the Hispanic community in the Midwestern church, she provides a leadership founded strongly on her Mexican and Cherokee heritage. While at the University of Minnesota, she took part in the Chicano Studies program. As she unites formal education with high communication skills, she is able to produce music that serves well the needs for multilingual worship. In addition to "Digo Si, Señor/I Say Yes, Lord," her recorded collections Alma Mia and Against the Grain as well as the most recent offerings A New Heaven, A New Earth, Mass of the Nations and the collaboration with Marty Haugen We Come Dancing, provide a broad range of music and texts for inclusive worship. "El Amanecar," which is the first cut on La Tierra, La Gente, is a masterpiece of Hispanic rhythms and instrumentation. When one sings it, one dances it. Her setting of Psalm 25, "Levanto Mi Alma/I Lift Up My Soul," has become a staple in the Advent repertory for many parishes. She stands at the forefront of new composers who are able to express ethnic richness with such accessible music. With such new music the Church now possesses a unique and broad power to express its diversity. Donna Peña's compositions have the ability to unleash that power.



Hispanic Music: Covering the Basics
A learning session that will introduce participants to the most basic popular Hispanic music styles such as ranchera, huapango, bolero, etc. Participants will also learn to read a music chart. This workshop can be offered for guitar or as an all day workshop for piano, guitar, vocals, and percussion.

Hispanic Music: For Those Who Want to Know More
This advanced workshop is for musicians and directors of parishes who have Hispanic liturgies and want to learn more about playing the various styles of music. This workshop can highlight one of two options: folkloric styles of music (guitar, guitarron, violin, and vocals) or a focus that examines popular styles involving piano, percussion, vocals, and bass. Again, this is an advanced session for those who already play their instrument but now need the techniques for playing these particular styles. This workshop is presented by Donna and a team of guest musicians (3-4 musicians, depending on the focus).

Hispanic Music: Music in the Liturgy
This workshop is designed to foster a clear understanding of how music and liturgy work together. While examining the parts of the Mass, participants will experience a variety of musical settings appropriate to the various parts of the liturgy. We will also examine ritual music for different seasons.

Hispanic Music: Basic Music
Learning how to read music to get through a liturgy. Basic skills taught such as time signatures and reading through charts (mainly for guitar and other chord instruments). For vocalists, understanding a vocal chart and learning the basic skills to read one; techniques for sight singing.

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