The great events and landmarks of 2013
The last day of 2013, flamenco fans the world over had to assimilate the unexpected and untimely passing of Jerez singer Juan Moneo Lara “El Torta”, possibly the single event that most marked the flamenco year.
But let’s go back to the beginning of the year… Throughout these twelve months “box-office!” was the war-cry of many flamenco artists who have refused to throw in the towel despite growing economic problems that each sector managed as best they could. Many decided to accept this challenge of paying their own production expenses, then sit back and hope the general public would respond. Being a flamenco artist the way things are now, requires dedication, sacrifice and creativity, which in turn has leveled the field and caused many young hopefuls to test the waters.
FESTIVALS AND SHOWS
When the Nimes Festival of 2014 is about to get underway, we look back to January of 2013 when this major event opened the flamenco calendar with the performances of Javier Barón, Carmen Linares, Olga Pericet and Marco Flores. That same week in Barcelona the show “Abolengo” debuted, and the dynamic new flamenco dance couple of Farrquito and Karime Amaya was born.
The well-established Gira del Norte presented its program in honor of Carmen Amaya for the dancer’s centennial, with the participation of Tomatito, Arcángel, Manuela Carrasco and José de la Tomasa among many others, while in Holland the Dutch Biennale was celebrated with Carmen Linares, Tomasito and Israel Galván the main attractions. Still in the month of January, the series Catalunya de Arte Flamenco featured the contemporary flamenco of Diego Cortés, Chicuelo and Mayte Martín.
In the month of February, pianist David Peña opened the series of concerts Flamenco Viene del Sur, and shortly afterwards, the prestigious Festival de Jerez got underway with two weeks of shows including those of Rocío Molina, Rosario Toledo, Antonio el Pipa, Javier Barón with Esperanza Fernández, Farruquito, Yerbabuena and the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía among many others.
In the spring, the Ciutat Vella festival of Barcelona again presented the most experimental and interdisciplinary flamenco projects, and the entire program was dedicated to Carmen Amaya, a Barcelona native herself. Rocío Molina, Duquende, Rafael Estevez and Valeriano Paños and the collaboration of Eva Yerbabuena provided the most flamenco moments.
The extended program of Suma Flamenca, Madrid’s festival par excellence, staged 48 shows at 15 venues within the province. The Nuevo Ballet Español presented a premiere, and there was a joint recital of Arcángel and Antonio Carmona, in addition to performances by José Mercé, Carmen Linares, Javier Barón and Gerardo Núñez among many other stars of flamenco singing, dance and guitar.
Another important annual event is Córdoba’s Festival de la Guitarra which in 2013 featured Paco Peña with his work “Quimeras”, Tomatito and Arcángel with Miguel Ángel Cortés. In Madrid, Miguel Poveda celebrated his 25-year career with an unforgettable mega concert at the Las Ventas bull-ring.
With summer just around the corner, the festival Flamenco en la Frontera in Morón de la Frontera, paid tribute to the venerable maestro Manuel Morao, and at the annual series staged at the Jardines de Sabatini in Madrid, stars such as Estrella Morente, José Mercé, Gerardo Núñez, Eva Yerbabuena and Tomatito were presented.
The classic summer festivals continue to hold their own despite deep budget cuts…the Potaje Gitano de Utrera, La Reunión de Cante Jondo de La Puebla de Cazalla, el Gazpacho de Morón and la Fiesta de la Bulería de Jerez are the best-known and longest-running events of this type. The Jueves Flamencos del Baluarte in Cádiz offered the chance to see a fine performance by Capullo de Jerez, and one of the last appearances of Mariana Cornejo.
The month of August got underway with the festival and competition of Cante de las Minas de La Unión, while in Granada the series devoted to Lorca at the Jardines del Generalife, starring La Moneta and Manuel Liñán, enjoyed great success. Paco de Lucía, Estrella Morente and Raimundo Amador performed at the Pirineos Sur festival.
A new series at Seville’s Teatro Central, conceived to fill in the odd-numbered years when there’s no Bienal, was opened by Javier Barón, and in Ireland the young Dublin Festival had another successful run. The new festival of St. Petersburg took flamenco to Russia where it had been little-known until now.
Successful tours were carried out by Argentina, Marina Heredia, Miguel Poveda and Paco de Lucía, and in Madrid a new flamenco association or “peña” called the Círculo Flamenco was formed. At the Sala García Lorca of Casa Patas, a wonderful series of acoustic recitals was offered with singers Jesús Méndez, Macanita and the great veteran Diego Clavel among others.
PRIZES AND FAREWELLS
Over the course of the year there were numerous acts and tributes for the “centennial” of Carmen Amaya, despite a concensus about her date of birth which may have been as late as 1918. Flamenco fans also remembered the legacy of Diego del Gastor exactly forty years after his death.
In addition to the terrible loss of singer El Torta, flamenco fans have had to assimilate the passing of the beloved Cádiz singer, Mariana Cornejo, and the younger brother of Antonio Mairena, Manuel Mairena. The couple Pies de Plomo and La Tomasa, parents of José de la Tomasa and relics of times past, died within a short space of time and Perlo de Triana, of the same generation, left his neighborhood with no flamenco elders to look up to. Huelva guitarist Niño Miguel, the genius and bohemian praised by Paco de Lucía himself, left the world behind along with his personal demons, and on Christmas Eve the percussionist and dancer known as El Eléctrico, also with Triana roots, passed away at the age of 52.
Happier news was the Premio Nacional de Danza that went to Isabel Bayón, and the Compás del Cante prize for El Pele. Instrumentalist Jorge Pardo received the prestigious prize for best musician of European jazz, and young Karime Amaya was named Best Newcomer of the Festival de Jerez.
At the end of November it was time for the Córdoba National Contest held every three years, and the winners were singer Manuel Cástulo, dancer Mercedes de Córdoba and guitarist Niño Seve. Another traditional competition, the Silla de Oro, was again held in Madrid, and the prize went to Jerez singer Alberto Sánchez “El Almendro”.
In the Flamenco Hoy critics’ choice prizes, DeFlamenco won in the category of Best Dissemination of Flamenco Information. Other prize-winners were the tablao Corral de la Morería, Manuel Liñán, Mercedes Ruiz, Israel Galván, Olga Pericet and José Valencia among others.
NEWS AND INTERVIEWS
Throughout the year, DeFlamenco published many news items of interest, such as the collaboration of dancer Andrés Marín with the French choreographer and director Bartabas in his new work “Golgota”.
We also published interviews with other well-known artists such as Tomatito, Vicente Amigo, Esperanza Fernández and Isabel Bayón, as well as young hopefuls Guadalupe Torres, Juan Carmona, Alfonso Losa, Gema Caballero, Rocío Márquez and Pedro Cintas who talked about their projects and plans for the future.
WHAT’S IN STORE IN 2014?
Flamenco performers continue to find ways to adapt to the new realities, such as the need to travel far from home to reach foreign audiences, or create low-budget shows that depend more on individual talent than elaborate staging or a numerous cast. Recordings of flamenco singing and guitar will finally become promotional items, and only the biggest stars are able to consider record sales a direct source of income.
And once again the Bienal de Sevilla is looming on the horizon…we already have the poster, and know the dates will be September 12th to October 5th. Before long we hope to have the complete program of performances and activities.