Cesar Favila

Nuns, Chant, and the Voice of God in New Spain
Sep 13, 2022 at - | Penn Music Building - Lerner 101, 201 S. 34th Street Philadelphia, PA 19104

Cesar Favila

Nuns, Chant, and the Voice of God in New Spain

September 13, 2022 (Tuesday) — 5:15 pm to 7:00 pm

Lerner Center
Penn Music Building
201 S. 34th Street, Room 101


This talk brings to voice and sound studies the music and devotional sources of New Spain’s cloistered convents. Starting with reflections on the Magnificat antiphon O Sapientia, located in a Mexico City chant book for the ancient Marian Feast of Our Lady of the O, I investigate the phenomenon of Mary’s characterization as sound, and, more specifically, as the voice of God. We will observe how these resonant circumstances might have had musical and other consequences for women wishing to become the Virgin Mary’s closest imitators, cloistered nuns. The gendered and racial politics of the Hispanic Church in the “New World” will also come to the fore, complicating our understanding of vocality in religious practice and of the sensorial qualities of women’s personhood in early modernity.



Cesar Favila is a native of rural Northern California and was a first-generation college student. After receiving a BA in music from UC Davis, he earned an MA and PhD in the history and theory of music at the University of Chicago. His research and teaching focus on Mexican music from colonial New Spain to the contemporary Chicano experience. His work resides at the intersections of music, religion, gender, and race. Favila’s work is published in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, the Bulletin of Spanish Studies, the Journal of the Society for American Music, Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, and Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture. His book, Immaculate Sounds: The Musical Lives of Nuns in New Spain, is under contract with Oxford University Press’s Currents in Latin American and Iberian Music Series. It will be the first book on women’s contributions to music making in colonial Latin America.

His research has been supported through generous funding from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Academy for American Franciscan History, the American Musicological Society, the American Philosophical Society, the Hellman Fellows Program, the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, the Society for American Music, the Fulbright Program, and UC MEXUS among others. In 2018, Favila was a Thoma Visiting Scholar in Latin American Colonial Art at UT Austin’s Blanton Museum and Benson Latin American Studies and Collections. In 2021, UCLA Undergraduate Education honored him with an Undergraduate Faculty Mentor Award.
Favila is affiliated faculty member of the UCLA Latin American Institute. He serves on the faculty advisory committees for the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Center for 17th& 18th– Century Studies, the Chicano Studies Research Center, LGBTQ Studies, and the Center for the Study of Women. He is an elected member-at-large of the American Musicological Society Council and was appointed to the AMS Committee on Cultural Diversity.



This lecture is part of the 2022-23 Penn Music Colloquium Series. The Department of Music's main Colloquium Series showcases new research by leading scholars in music and sound studies and composers both in the United States and internationally.  All Music Colloquia will take place in Room 101 of the Lerner Center on Tuesdays at 5:15 PM.

We ask that you join us in person if at all possible, but for those of you who are unable to physically attend we encourage you to participate via Zoom. Registration link to attend virtually is below:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.