Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Queen Symphony in Las Palmas

I hever heard about Tolga Kashif’s magnum opus, Queen Symphony (2002), until the concert of GCWO earlier this year. And there you go, two months later they’re back to Auditorio Alfredo Kraus together with the Choir and the Children’s Choir of Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria. Timur and I went to see the show. (Tamara excused herself saying that “It won’t be real Queen anyway”.)

As symphonies go, this is on a longer side, about one hour. It is as epic as one would expect, to the degree that at times I wished it was less so. Who Wants To Live Forever appears in three movements. The first time, in the third movement, as a beautiful interplay of violin (Preslav Ganev) and cello (Marisa Roda). It comes back in the fifth movement and lasts, well, forever (or so I thought). Then, when you’d think you’ll never want to hear it again, it is reprised in the final movement.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

El desorden de los números cardinales

by Vicente Marco

I blame Francesc Miralles (the author of Wabi-Sabi) whose praise graces the cover of this slim volume of short stories for the fact that I read it in the first place. It took me a couple of months. No, this is not difficult reading per se, but I find all the stories here at least mildly disturbing. So I took breaks because I wanted to sleep some nights. And I am still not sure what to make of it.

The first (Rob y el conserje) and the last (Los cimientos frágiles) bookend the rest of the stories into some sort of conceptual whole although do not work on their own. El ojo y las vidas extintas, Los almacenes Tonyhebe and Su otro padre seem to be three rather inventive variations on the same theme; once you read one, you can predict how the others will end. Un plato demasiado frío almost made me sick. The title story and especially Un sobre para Rández are simply brilliant.

I spy many influences of, and references to, other masters of short fiction, from Borges and García Márquez to Bukowski and Nabokov, however what this collection reminds me most is Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected.

Strangely enough, I can’t find a table of contents anywhere in the book. So I made it myself.

Vicente Marco
El desorden de los números cardinales
  1. Rob y el conserje (p. 9)
  2. Un sobre para Rández (p. 21)
  3. El desorden de los números cardinales (p. 35)
  4. El peluquero (p. 45)
  5. Los almacenes Tonyhebe (p. 57)
  6. Por gentileza del Sr. Midas (p. 71)
  7. La mujer de la clínica (p. 81)
  8. Su otro padre (p. 93)
  9. Un plato demasiado frío (p. 101)
  10. El ojo y las vidas extintas (p. 111)
  11. Invadiendo el hemisferio vertebrado (p. 123)
  12. Los cimientos frágiles (p. 137)

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Vinila Von Bismark and Flor de Canela in Las Palmas

I first saw Vinila alongside La Mari at the Chambao farewell and loved her performance. And what a stroke of luck, she makes a detour from her Motel Llamado Mentira tour to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria!

I’m sure Ms Von Bismark could easily fill the whole Plaza de Santa Ana with dancing and singing crowd. Anywhere else, one might think, this concert would be sold out in hours. But not here. (On the bright side, that means, I was able to get in!) Is it a lack of publicity or what? The show started just after midnight and the venue was half (or more) empty. The little audience that was there looked like they came here as an afterthought, or were too tired after a week, or something. Little by little though, Vinila got them energised.

Now Motel, released last November, is an eclectic collection of well-crafted songs; my favourites are Sólo Para Mí, Vinila Masagua and Quiero Decirte al Oído. But it just did not sound as a coherent album to me, at least on the first listen. You have to see Vinila live to appreciate what powerful voice and stage presence she has. Then it all starts to make sense, as she flows quite naturally from rock’n’roll to cumbia, from reggae to blues, from ¡Ay, pena, penita, pena! to La Llorona, in her marvellously singular style.

As for the venue: this is the second time I am in The Paper Club (the first time was a year ago, to see Mr. FeedBack) and must say that the acoustics of the place leave much to be desired. OK, I expect there is a sweet spot somewhere, it’s just me who was consistently not there.

After the show, at half past one I reckon, I spotted a tiny merchandise table with, like, one CD, a couple of vinyl(a)s and some T-shirts. The sole CD was immediately bought by a fan in front of me. Luckily, I came prepared because I brought my own copy (to sign).

And now for something completely different and yet very much related.

Isleta Sunset is a series of open-air music events organised by Fabrica La Isleta. They take place on Sunday afternoons, predictably enough, in La Isleta, so people could enjoy the music and sunset. Tonight I came there to see in action Flor de Canela, a project of our very own (where “our”, you understand, refers to all places where I ever lived) Grancanarian drummer and percussionist, Xerach Peñate. Apart from her, this band features Núria Balaguer (vocals and percussion), Marta Bautista (bass, vocals, percussion) and Paula Vegas (keyboards, vocals, percussion), all of them young and almost frighteningly talented. I couldn’t see much of a sunset, what with all this drizzle, but the concert was well worth braving the elements. Their music ranges from Latin folk (like the song that gave its name to the band) to jazz and swing, with tasty bits of salsa and samba throughout. A bit more chamber act than Vinila’s perhaps but as happy and inspiring.

Why do I write all this? Because the country should know its heroines, and this weekend I just met five of them.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

The Hole Zero

created by Iñaki Fernández

Does anybody remember the New Year’s Eve of 1980? I do. It was nice and cosy enough and... not like The Hole Zero at all.

I missed The Hole 2 when it was in Las Palmas two years ago. Now, finding myself in rainy Valencia in the run-up to Las Fallas, I was not about to miss this one (Teatro Olympia, Calle de San Vicente Mártir 44, Valencia). The Hole Zero mixes song, dance, stand-up comedy and circus and is quite unlike any live performance I’ve seen so far. Then again, I’ve never been to a burlesque show before. To shock or, at the very least, to embarrass is a part of the deal. The girls are beautiful, to quote Emcee from Cabaret. The jokes are way beyond risqué. The acrobatic numbers are breathtaking. And es de traca! I can’t honestly say I understood everything: for example, “La Terre” was chatting away too fast. It matters not: it was funny all the same.

I know, it was just a coincidence, but The Hole Zero shares a lot with Las Fallas: fun, irreverence, exaggeration, and — no way to get around it, but why one even should? — boobs.

The Hole Zero

Created and produced by Iñaki Fernández
with Félix Sabroso, Víctor Conde, Ferrán González and Pepa Charro


    MC: La Terremoto de Alcorcón
    La Diva: Lorena Calero
    Conchi: Noelia Pompa
    Salomón: Axe Peña
    DJ Santera: Bilonda Mfunyi-Tshiabu
    Bola Disco: Julio Bellido
    Bianca: Alexandra Masangkay
    Lady 54: Carla Díaz
    Lucy: María Garrido
    Dios Caballo: Daniel Sullivan
    Golden Boy — Aerial Pole Dance: Oleg Tatarinov

Guest Artists

    Bungee Trapeze: Diana Sapronova, Ruslan Gusarov, Andrei Bogodist and Nikolai Gavryushev
    Rueda de la Muerte: William Torres & Andrés Daza
    Meleshin Brothers: Vadim & Anton Meleshin
    Trio Bokafi

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Las Fallas 2018

According to my old Rough Guide to Spain (this book served me well but I left it to my flatmates three years ago), Las Fallas are one of the Spanish “Big Four”, together with Semana Santa, Feria de Abril and San Fermín. Strangely enough, the Carnival is not among them.

Now it so happened that I, quite intentionally, stopped in Valencia en route to Boston and back, being able to see some of the festival and even take some pictures of it. For the benefit of those who never heard of ​Las Fallas, I allow myself to explain what’s going on here.

La Falla Convent de Jerusalem-Matemàtic Marzal

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Battle of the Sexes

a film by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

What happened to the art of movie trailer? It is as if they don’t care any more. If I were to judge a film by its trailer, I would never watch Black Panther or The Last Jedi, let alone Battle of the Sexes. This latter was offered as in-flight entertainment on a transatlantic flight to Boston. I don’t care much about tennis and whether or not anything is based on a true story, and my, this trailer is boring.

The only reason I watched this movie was because I heard from a friend that it was good. So I gave it a try and wasn’t disappointed.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Gran Canaria’s Women Band live

Women sing.
Women dance.
Women play harp.
They also play piano.

According to Lise Karin Meling, “The foundations for which instruments women and men should play are laid already in the Middle Ages”. The flute, the violin, the oboe the horn, the cello, the double bass, the bassoon, and the trumpet all were considered unsuitable for women. And guess what, they still are. Can you name any female bassist/drummer/saxophonist/trombonist/trumpeter? I can, but all of them are jazz players, and also are exceptions, for jazz remains a men’s world. And what about women conductors?

Yesterday, Timur and I went to see this all in the shape of the Gran Canaria’s Women Band in the Auditorio Alfredo Kraus.

GCWB was founded in 2016 by Pilar Rodríguez and consists of fifty Canarian women. According to La Provincia, this is the first all-female symphony orchestra in Canarias (and second in Spain). In fact, just like Gran Canaria Wind Orchestra, GCWB is a concert band: no violins or violas (and a good thing too), just one cello and two double basses. Also, neither piano nor harp. But plenty of percussion, including a drumkit.

It was an interesting and varied programme, starting with world permière of Atman by Canarian composer Nisamar Díaz. I liked Second Suite for Band by Alfred Reed and Ruckus by Randall Standridge the most. In my view, there was not enough chemistry between the guest vocalist Eli Guillén and the band during the first two songs. The choir Coral Chelys Odalys, directed by Maite Robaina, came to the rescue. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You sung by Eli and a choir was a success. And then there were encores: a paso doble (I don’t know the name) and I Will Survive!

It looked like the show was sold out: I bought the tickets on Thursday and there was just a handful of seats left. Now how great could it be if the band could perform not just once a year, to celebrate the International Women’s Day...

Unfortunately, the programme booklet does not list the musicians of GCWB. Also, for a few songs, they credited the arrangers but not the composers.

Gran Canaria’s Women Band

Musical director: Pilar Rodríguez
Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Sunday, 4 March 2018, 12:00
Part I
  • Nisamar Díaz (Gran Canaria, 1980)
    Atman (world première)
  • Steven Reineke (Tipp City, Ohio, 1970)
    Main Street Calebration
  • James L. Hosay (Nashville, Tennessee, 1959)
  • Alfred Reed (New York, 1921 — Miami, 2005)
    Second Suite for Band (Latino Mexicana) (1978)
    1. Son Montuno
    2. Tango
    3. Guaracha
    4. Paso Doble
Part II
  • Randall D. Standridge (Little Rock, Arkansas, 1976)
  • Justin Hurwitz (Los Angeles, California, 1985), arranged by Michael Brown
    Highlights from La La Land
  • Mecano, de Germán Arias
  • Germán Arias
      Eli Guillén: vocal
  • Arr. by Frank Bernaerts
    What I’m Feeling
      Eli Guillén: vocal
      Coral Chelys Odalys
  • Bob Crewe, Bob Gaudio, arr. by Johan de Meij
    Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
      Eli Guillén: vocal
      Coral Chelys Odalys
  • Franck Pourcel, Paul Mauriat, Norman Gimbel, arr. by Jan van Kraeydonck
    I Will Follow Him
      Coral Chelys Odalys