FLAMENCO BIENNALE III
Text: Estela Zatania
Cante: El Torta, Jesús Méndez. Guitar: Diego del Morao, Manuel Parrilla, Curro Carrasco. Percussion and palmas: Ané Carrasco, Luis Carrasco, Carlos Grilo, Luis Peña ’Cantarote’. Fiesta dance: Luisa ’Terremoto’, Tía Curra. Guest artists: Miguel Poveda, Diego Carrasco, Joaquín Grilo.
On Thursday, January 27th, with the theremometer on the wall outside my hotel window struggling to get above zero despite unaccustomed sunshine, a large portion of the Jerez flamenco community continued warming up the chilly atmospheric conditions.
But today was a special day. We had all come, artists and audience alike, to remember and honor the charismatic singer Fernando Terremoto who had to hurriedly leave the planet less than one year ago at only 40 years of age. Shortly afterwards, during the Festival de Jerez where he was to have sung, the organization of the Dutch Flamenco Biennale started cooking up the tribute that last night was presented in Amsterdam in all its splendor.
Fernando Fernández Pantoja, son of Terremoto de Jerez, was born into the hermetic world of Jerez flamenco, and started out as a guitarist. He always said that had his father not died early on, he would have been his guitarist. It was nearly inevitable the son would become a singer; he had all the prerequisites. In addition to knowledge of the artform, he had a prodigious voice, a very flamenco sound and a delivery that was reminiscent of his father’s. Fernando was also a product of his generation, he was interested in other kinds of music, and composed and interpreted songs while also conserving an impeccable repertoire of classic cante. But at this point, what we most remember is his humanity, the open smile and the fine person he was.
With a packed house at the large auditorium theater in the heart of the Dutch capital, Faustino Núñez spoke about flamenco in Jerez as a way of presenting the tribute. A series of slides showing scenes from the life of Fernando Terremoto was shown, while the sound of his voice singing siguiriyas, the cante that most identified him, resonated throughout the spacious hall. Miguel Poveda, Jesús Méndez and el Torta sang a round of tonás in which the latter found the thread of his own genius. Jesús Méndez then sang serranas and fandangos with the familiar “ali alianda“ of the Méndez family, and Torta once again demonstrated how well the light airy quality of alegrías de Cádiz can combine with the dense darkness that inhabits the cante of Jerez.
The bulerías dance of Joaquín Grilo is a new wrinkle in the cloth of flamenco dance which is destined to be copied by others. It’s a dance without cante, choreographed specifically for a guitar composition of Moraíto’s which on this occasion was played by his son Diego. A perfect jewel of flamenco, a banquet of compás and good humor based on footwork, intelligence and a lot of personality.
After intermission, another man with his own special style, unrepeatable and inimitable, no matter how much they try to imitate him: Diego Carrasco. After several songs from his regular repertoire, he again broke our hearts, as he did last week in France, but this time with the help of Miguel Poveda. “Se te fue la vida, el demonio ganó la partida, y no pude hacer nada para que te quedaras“ [’The life is gone from you, the devil won out, and I was helpless to do anything so you could stay’], lyrics that hurt just right to help us bear the loss of such an excellent artist and person as Fernando Terremoto.
Alegrías cantiñas de Poveda with Grilo dancing, and then Diego Carrasco returned to the stage to divide time in ever smaller portions and construct the chemistry he shares with Poveda via “Alfileres de Colores“.
The classic fiesta finale was decorated with the symbolic dancing of Tía Curra, and the emotional participation of Luisa Terremoto, sister of Fernando, who danced with tears welling up and a knotted facial expression; eloquent poem of suffering passed through the prism of flamenco that left no one unmoved.