Text: Sara Arguijo
Photos: Adam Newby
Presentation of the Demófilo prize to Pedro Peña Fernández, and tribute with the presence of Dorantes, Pedro Mª Peña, Luis el Zambo, Pastora Galván, Esperanza Fernández, José de la Tomasa.
Tribute to Pedro Peña. Cante: Pedro María Peña, Luis El Zambo, José de la Tomasa, Chiquetete, Esperanza Fernández. Piano: Dorantes. Baile: Pastora Galván. Guitars: Pedro María Peña, Miguel Ángel Cortés, Fran Cortés, Miguel Salado. Percussion: Rubén Vargas. Palmas: Sergio Aguilera, Raúl Aguilera, Pedrito Peña. Sala Joaquín Turina, November 5th, 2015. Sold out.
The magical tribute to Pedro Peña
We were going to begin this article saying that nothing tires an audience more quickly than phoniness, and that by contrast, when things are done with sincerity, the stage seems to become an extension of the audience area, and vice versa. Then, I came upon this sentence from Antonio Machado: “the truth is what it is, and continues to be true although it seems to be just the opposite”, and there doesn't seem to be any better moment to quote those words than in reference to what we're dealing with: the Demófilo Prize 2015 that the Machado Foundation awarded this Thursday to Pedro Peña in an emotional tribute full of genuine feeling.
For anyone who doesn't know it, this Lebrija guitarist (son of María Fernández La Perrata and Bernardo Peña, nephew of Perrate de Utrera, brother of El Lebrijano and father of guitarist Pedro María Peña and pianist Dorantes), is one of those people whose work transcends the artistic realm. In other words, more than becoming a regular at flamenco festivals in the twentieth century, and having accompanied the best singers of his time, he is also a primary school teacher, he is a man recognized for having been an axis of the wheel of flamenco gypsies, for “encouraging the culture and ancestral customs of his people”, as it said on the program, for his social activism and for his defense of fundamental values. In other words, a person everyone talks about, and who does everything well.
For this reason, it's no surprise at all that the Sala Joaquín Turina was filled to the rafters, all tickets sold, and that each of the artists who participated in the show tried to give their best in honor of Pedro Peña. So on this magical night, as so many defined it, there was singing, dancing and guitar-playing that was completely honest, from major stars of every flamenco generation.
His son Pedro María Peña opened the show, and even dared to sing soleá. He was followed by Luis el Zambo who put the Jerez flavor of his cante por soleá and his bulerías. This was followed by the grand José de la Tomasa with soleá, open and luminous, and an impressive toná. Chiquetete, recalling for the occasion the verse “Amigo, ya no hay amigo” to bulerías al golpe, giving his sweetest delivery por soleá. Esperanza Fernández conjured up her voice for cantiñas, and left the audience moved with her song “Di, Di Ana” which she sang with Dorantes on piano. The latter then spoke some emotional words for his father: “I couldn't have had better luck”, he said, and then played an even more moving rondeña. To finish, the majestic Pastora Galván dancing to the musician like a Moorish princess straight from The Thousand and One Nights.
And of course, the official presentation of the prize, and a fiesta finale in which Pedro Peña himself sang, accompanied by his sons for a song based on a poem of his, and which he admitted to only having sung among relatives. And he could actually continue to say the same thing, because the gathering was in a theater, but it felt like a living-room.