I was first introduced to Modesta Bor (1926–1998) by my friend, Dr. Nicholas Miguel. I was looking for public domain works that were written by women for treble or equal voices and that would fit the educational goals and skill level of the ensemble I was programming for.
Modesta Bor was born in Venezuela, and studied in both Caracas and the Moscow Tchaikovsky Museum (a place I did some research when I was working on my dissertation). She returned to Venezuela and worked as the head of the music department at the Central University of Venezuela, composing, teaching, and conducting choirs. Her oeuvre includes music for orchestra, chamber groups, solo piano, piano and voice, incidental music, and choral music for mixed and equal voicings. Her music incorporates a Venezuelan folk style as well as traits she learned in her formal studies of Western European classical music. Her music, moreover, “elevates the llanero, the common rural laborer, and comments on the social issues of her people,” writes Dr. Miguel in his dissertation (v). In fact, her music was strongly influenced by her political beliefs, and she often chose topics and poetry that coincided with her beliefs in equality and social justice.
You can find her most completed catalog here: https://fundacionmodestabor.wordpress.com/catalogo/. This includes a catalog of her choral works. The music is published through Ediciones ARE, and you can find her published music here. If you would like to perform something you find, I recommend contacting Ediciones ARE (and the editor, Armando Nones). When it came to cost, the company shared it at no cost (although, it does have a link to a donations page that you should consider if you use music from them, which is a new and needed addition to the website). I began by exploring the music in the Obra coral Original de Modesta Bor. There are a variety of pieces for both mixed and equal voices, but all were possible for my college choir. Many of these pieces would be suitable for high school, and even middle school depending on your access to rehearsal time.
Some links to sample music for you to listen to:
Enjoy the exploration of this composer! I found the most difficult part of looking through her music is that I didn’t know the content of the text, since there are no available translations. Since I always consider the text in addition to the music performance concepts, not having translations made the music selection process significantly longer. Still, this music is worth the time and effort it takes.