Pequeña suite, for orchestra
Mejía’s prize-winning Pequeña suite received its first performance in 1938 at the Festival Iberoamericano de Música Fundación Bogotá, organized by Gustavo Espina Grau to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the founding of the city. The “Little” Suite consists of three movements all based on traditional Colombian dances. The first movement is in the style of a bambuco, an Andean song and dance, typically sung as a duet in thirds to guitar accompaniment and characterized with advance-and-retreat dance steps symbolizing courtship. Here the atmosphere heats up considerably in the final section.
Also representing the Andes, the slow second movement draws on the torbellino, a moderately paced song and dance in strongly accented triple meter. The opening features a flowing flute solo, which returns after a livelier middle section.
In his third movement Mejía boldly incorporates popular music from the Atlantic coast for the first time in Colombian symphonic music, despite conflicting views about its value and its perceived threat to Andean culture. The traditional cumbia is a purely instrumental dance, performed by couples dancing with exaggerated hip movements in a circle around an ensemble of seated musicians—usually by the light of candles held by each dancing woman. Mejía begins with layers of rhythmic patterns, which become accompaniment to a prominent flute melody. The faster second section features playful interplay between instrumental groups and a dramatic lull before the exuberant sign-off.