Archive for June, 2010

Paco Peña at Sadler’s Wells

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London’s many flamencophiles and Hispanophiles have a lot to look forward to this coming week, since Paco Peña’s latest show, Flamenco sin fronteras, will be on at Sadler’s Wells as of June 30th. Cordobés by birth, Paco Peña started off as a guitarist and is now better known as the creator of a series of shows that have appeared annually for some years now and that combine carefully controlled choreography, very high quality performance and lyrical narratives that catch the imagination. His signature style is one that combines a traditional approach with artistic sophistication. There is also a very clear rigour about his approach to flamenco, a close attention to detail combined with stylish performances by top dancers and musicians and, always, his own presence on stage that seals the show with an auteurist stamp. Paco Peña sees himself as having many roles; that of el cordobés, that of the company director, the mentor and much more. What is clear is that he is in many ways a maestro of the arte.

In a sense, Paco Peña is a diasporic flamenco artist. While his roots are in Córdoba, he has nevertheless lived outside of Spain for many years now and so it is not suprising that his dance narratives often carry an element of longing or nostalgia. Flamenco sin fronteras promises to be about travel. It revolves around the cantes de ida y vuelta or forms of flamenco that emerged from intercourse between Spain and Latin America, when Spaniards took their music across the Atlantic in their travels as colonizers, hybridized it with forms of music they found there and then returned,as indianos, to Spain to add new dimensions to the repertoire of flamenco… and so we find touches of Cuba in guajiras and habaneras, of Colombia in colombianas, of Argentina in tangos and tanguillos. This music, which has a lilt that undulates ocean-like, is a beautiful evocation of centuries of connection and movement to and fro between Andalusia and Latin America.

June 26, 2010 Posted Under: General   Read More

Paco de Lucía: Doctor in Honoris Causa

‘When I was a child, flamenco was only the music of my people, of Andalusian people, of patios and late nights, wine and poverty…’

With these words, Paco de Lucía received an honorary doctorate from the prestigious Berklee College of contemporary music in Boston, Massachusetts a few months ago. Thanks largely to artists like him, flamenco is no longer relegated to Andalusia or to poverty. This is the first such degree to be awarded to a flamenco artist and the first major acknowledgement of the contribution made by Paco de Lucía, and by extension by flamenco, to contemporary world music. Of course, Paco de Lucía has rightly earned this accolade. Not only is he one of the great guitarists of our times, but he also has played an incredibly important role in steering flamenco away from the grip of the purists, without ever losing the rigour that is part of his musical ethic.

Although Paco de Lucía started his career very early, he was noted outside of Andalusia, in Madrid and other parts of Spain only in the 1970s, when he became part of the unforgettable duo that he formed with Camarón de la Isla. Shortly before that, his album Almoraima had come out and taken Madrid by storm, so that RTVE, Spanish national radio and television, came to showcase his work and so spread flamenco around a Spain that remained largely ignorant of the music of its south. Here, in nostalgia’s name, is what is surely one of his signature pieces that we all recognize, Entre dos aguas:

And here, also in nostalgia’s name, is a photo of the young Paco de Lucía on the jacket of Almoraima, as he was when he first encountered fame, a collection that threw open so many possibilities to flamenco and to its aficionados:

Almoraima

June 19, 2010 Posted Under: General   Read More