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Inaugural Gala – Homenaje a Manolo Sanlúcar 'Tu oído es más viejo que tu abuelo'

September 11, 2008

BIENAL DE FLAMENCO DE SEVILLA

Inaugural Gala– Tribute to Manolo Sanlúcar
“Tu oído es más viejo que tu abuelo”

Program (PDF)
September 10th, 2008.

SPECIAL REPORT: BIENAL DE FLAMENCO DE SEVILLA 2008

Concert guitarist and composer: Manolo Sanlúcar. Dance: Cristina Hoyos, Israel Galván, Juan de Juan. Cante: Arcángel, José Valencia, Luís el Zambo, Fernando de la Morena. Guitar: Moraíto, David Carmona, Miguel Ángel Cortés, Daniel Méndez. Percussion: Agustín Diassera. Palmas: Chícharo, Carlos Grilo, Bo, Lúa, Bobote.  “El misterio de las voces búlgaras”: Coro Femenino de la RTV de Bulgaria. Orquesta Joven de Andalucía directed by Michael Thomas.  Author and artistic director: Isidro Muñoz.

Text: Estela Zatania
Photos: © Archivo Bienal de Flamenco, Luis Castilla

We humans love to take note of anniversaries.  Last night, in the San Francisco plaza in the heart of Seville, capital of Andalusia, the first night of the fifteenth Bienal de Flamenco was celebrated, thirty years from the time it was created, and in commemoration of the fifty-year career of one of the most important guitarists of the genre, The inaugural gala of the marathon event, the mother of all flamenco festivals, took the form of an extravagant open-air show, with free entrance, to pay tribute to Manolo Sanlúcar.

Many important anniversaries of major flamenco artists have gone unnoticed by the organization over the years; Paco de Lucía himself received no similar treatment the year he received the prestigious Príncipe de Asturias prize two Bienals ago.  But let’s not start the month, with its 55 scheduled shows, on a negative note; here’s a look at what the inauguration was like…

Bienal de Flamenco. Foto Luis Castilla
Bienal de Flamenco. Foto Luis Castilla
Manolo Sanlúcar
Cristina Hoyos & Manolo Sanlúar

A festival of grandiose dimensions requires a grandiose opening.  And as tends to occur with grandiosity, at first you’re impressed, but the overall impression when it’s all over is of more wrapping than content.  The huge plaza was packed, more than two thousand five-hundred people were lucky enough to commandeer one of the folding chairs, and with a quick visual count I’d say another two thousand were able to enjoy the show from the surrounding streets.  For 80 tightly-controlled minutes, about a hundred performers were on the spacious stage erected in front of the plateresque façade of city hall; the Young Andalusia Orchestra and the 22 women of the Bulgarian Chorus, in addition to the main performers.

At one end of the stage, Jerez.  Moraíto, Luis Zambo, Fernando de la Morena and compas-keepers to match.  At the other end, the Bulgarians, twenty-two ladies in folkloric attire.  Manolo Sanlúcar makes his appearance and the numerous audience stands up.  And thus began the well-constructed, but somewhat stiff production.  A lyrical piece from Sanlúcar’s recording “Tauromagia” is followed by the Bulgarian chorus whose hypnotic drone is suddenly interrupted by guitar, voices and palmas, complete with wooden table and knuckled compás to invoke all the aroma of a fiesta flamenca in Jerez.  Moraíto’s little dance, about as far from spontaneous on this occasion as anything can get, leads to a beautiful extract from Sanlúcar’s “Medea” with the dancing of Cristina Hoyos.

Bienal de Flamenco. Foto Luis Castilla
Bienal de Flamenco. Foto Luis Castilla

Juan de Juan

Israel Galván

Once again, the oneiric parallel harmony of the Bulgarian voices serves as a sort of Greek chorus that musically appears to narrate the flamenco goings-on.  Manolo Sanlúcar interprets a composition of soleá with David Carmona on second guitar, and Juan de Juan and José Valencia, respectively,0 decorate the music with dancing and singing.
 
Arcángel, accompanied on the guitar by Daniel Méndez and Miguel Ángel Cortés comes off somewhat better, if only because his modus operandi depends on intricately elaborated and rehearsed arrangements, and the alegrías he offers, half whispered, half trumpeted, suggests the far-off salt-spray of Cádiz bay, without actually getting you wet.  The Bulgarians again, and it’s beginning to get repetitious for Spanish ears.  Another composition from “Tauromagia” is interpreted by Sanlúcar and David Carmona, and this brings us to what was probably the most rewarding moment of the evening.  Because Israel Galván is artistically self-sufficient, his dancing and personality are above any mere musical accompaniment, and he managed to keep us fascinated right down to the last drop.

Singer José Valencia’s brave martinete, a one-man tour-de-force intended to end the show, doesn’t quite tie up this pre-eminently institutional instrumental show, but the rigid format makes no allowance for an encore, much less the fiesta finale the audience was hoping for.

Other photos:
Bienal de Flamenco. Foto Luis Castilla
Bienal de Flamenco. Foto Luis Castilla
Bienal de Flamenco. Foto Luis Castilla