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The Culture Vulture

About cultural things: music, dance, literature and theatre.

“Harmony”
Sunday, November 27, 2022

Harmony is a 21st century company. Their recruitment methods raise a number of ethical questions, for they make extensive use of social media to assist them in the selection of employees.

“Harmony” is also the title of a one-act play which deals with this contentious subject.

The Culture Vulture and his wife had the pleasure of attending a performance of this powerful short play on Saturday evening in Ronda (Málaga).

 

This obra de teatro was performed by La Pequeña Compañia del Proyecto Platea in their intimate theatre studio Sala Puerta Amarilla in Calle Bulerías in the San Rafael barrio of Ronda.

As you enter this dramatic space, the atmosphere is already set. Two mysterious figures, both dressed in white, hover around the stark set, tablets in hand. Partly ushers, partly characters in the play, actress Nieves Rodríguez and the play’s director, Marcos Marcell, are there to set the scene against a soundtrack about “Harmony”, the company in question. It is clear that Marcos and Nieves are not to be addressed for they are “in character” and behaving in a somewhat sinister manner.

The set is minimalist, a white table, two chairs, a laptop computer and a white envelope. This is the interview room, the setting for this 35-minute-long piece.

We first see the interviewer dressed in a white suit and played by Charo Carrasco. She leaves the stage and the interviewee, dressed in a conventional black suit, played by Ana Belén Sánchez, enters and, facing the audience, checks her face, hair and clothing in an imaginary mirror. A very effective touch.

The interviewer re-enters, invites the candidate to sit and to present her case for getting the job. Clearly put out by this unconventional start to the proceedings, the candidate proceeds to regurgitate her curriculum vitae. She is stopped abruptly.

“No need. I can read and have read your CV.”

The candidate, clearly off her stride, then starts to describe the company, intending, presumably, then to say why she is the ideal person to fill the position.

This is also not to the interviewer’s taste.

As the interview proceeds the extremely strident interviewer informs the candidate that they have used social media extensively as part of their selection process. Text posts and pictures.

We learn that the candidate’s father died of cancer, that her mother suffered severe depression, that the candidate cheated on her long-standing partner and that she has been unemployed for months – all this purely from what the candidate has posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like.

The company even used facial recognition techniques on her photos to learn more about the candidate, who by now is getting hysterical. Her protestations that this is invasion of her privacy fall on deaf ears. After all, as the smug interviewer points out, all this information is in the public domain, posted voluntarily by the candidate.

On the table is also an envelope containing a job offer and details of the salary. The candidate is invited to open it. She does so and her face registers shock. The salary offered is apparently risible. Deductions have been made for her transgressions, as discovered on social media.

With that the candidate flees the room, hysterical. The play ends. Point made and very well. And very shocking.

This was a consummate performance; pacy with crisp dialogue and extremely thought-provoking. The three actresses are amateurs, yet director Marcos Marcell, a professional actor and director, has coaxed performances of an extremely high professional standard from these three “local girls”.

Brilliant! Well done!

 

Coming soon:

Look out for their next production “Novias” on 6/7 December at the same venue, Sala Puerta Amarilla. Tickets are available at Intersport Cary on Carrer Espinel in Ronda.

 

The Culture Vulture writes:

I’ve seen this brilliantly funny play set in a bridal shop twice before. In the patio of El Convento in Ronda and in the open air in the village of Atajate (Málaga). I shall be going again next month. I’m intrigued to see this play in the small intimate space at Sala Puerta Amarilla.



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Culture or Sport?
Saturday, November 26, 2022

What’s it to be? thought the Culture Vulture. The Beatles Songbook or England v. USA in the Qatar World Cup? Both were on at the exact same time.

The FIFA World Cup only comes around every four years, and after the English team’s pulsating 6-2 win in their first match against Iran, surely this was a game not to be missed.

The concert of Beatle music was for one night only, and it did sound exciting. Six musicians, four strings, one piano and a xylophone, reinterpreting Beatles’ masterpieces.

What did the Culture Vulture choose?

 

I posted my dilemma on Facebook, and to a man and woman, the responses all counselled the concert – and this from football-mad Spaniards!

So, that’s what I decided to do. After all, I could watch the football highlights later on BBC1.

And, boy oh boy, did I make the right choice. The concert was brilliant and, as I was to later find out, the football match didn’t have any highlights. It was a boring 0-0 draw in which England were fortunate to gain a point. USA had dominated the match.

Back to the concert. It was free-of-charge, so I got to the Teatro Vicente Espinel in Ronda half an hour early to be sure of getting a seat. There were only six people there before me! Great. I got my pick of the seats. Third row from the stage, in the middle.

By the time the concert began the numbers had swelled to around 150. Still not many out of a Ronda population of 33,000, however. Perhaps they had all stayed in to watch the footie!

The band came on stage. Cuarteto Granada with special guests Javier Navas and José Carra made up the six musicians, five males and a female. Their instruments were piano, two violins, a viola, a cello and a xylophone. A xylophone? How does that work?

Well, it did! And how! The audience was treated to 90 minutes of great tunes re-arranged as instrumentals to suit the instruments on show. As the only percussion the xylophone really worked well and enhanced the whole performance.

They kicked off with “Eleanor Rigby”, well-suited to strings, of course. By the way, the original Beatles’ version of this iconic song is the only one on which no Beatle plays a note. Fact.

Then we sat back and enjoyed their versions of “Across the Universe”, “Day Tripper”, “Come Together”, “Blackbird” and “Norwegian Wood”, before they concluded with George Harrison’s “Something”, a track from the album Abbey Road, “You Never Give me Your Money”, and “A Day in the Life” from Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

A triumph, even without the moving lyrics of the original.

A standing ovation brought us a triumphant encore, “Let it Be”, one of their last ever recordings.

I had been sitting with my pal Emilio, who is a local lad around my age. We both agreed that this music by the Fab Four from Liverpool represents the classical music of that era, the 1960s. John Lennon, long dead, and Paul McCartney, just turned 80 and still touring, really were the Mozart and Mendelssohn of the 20th Century.

 

©  The Culture Vulture

 

Tags: Abbey Road, A Day in the Life, Beatles, Beatles Songbook, Blackbird, cello, Come Together, concert, Cuarteto Granada, Culture Vulture, Eleanor Rigby, England, Fab Four, Facebook, FIFA, football, free-of-charge, Javier Navas, John Lennon, José Carra, Let it Be, Liverpool, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Norwegian Wood, Paul McCartney, piano, population, Qatar, Ronda, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Something, Teatro Vicente Espinel, triumph, USA, viola, violin, World Cup, xylophone



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Picasso for free in Málaga
Monday, October 17, 2022

Pablo Picasso - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

Málaga City was the birthplace of Pablo Ruiz Picasso, one of the world’s most famous artists. He was born on 25 October 1881. He died at the age of 91 in Mougins, France on 8 April 1973.

There are two museums dedicated to this painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France.

Málaga also has the Carmen Thyssen Museum which is home to many great collections by famous artists. It also hosts visiting exhibitions, currently by Belgian artists including René Magritte. That lasts until 5 March 2023.

There is also the Pompidou Museum in the revitalised port.

The good thing about all of these places is that admission is not expensive; it’s even free on Sundays and some bank holidays.

The Culture Vulture and three friends recently spent a Sunday in this somewhat under-rated city. Here’s his report.

 

Did you know that you can visit two locations in Málaga dedicated to the Málaga-born artist Picasso free of charge? You can also visit the Carmen Thyssen Gallery without paying.

From 4.00 pm on Sundays entrance to Picasso’s Birth House and the Carmen Thyssen Museum is free for all. Entrance to the Picasso Museum is also not charged for the last two hours on Sundays.

 

Pablo Ruiz Picasso

One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Picasso is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), and the anti-war painting Guernica (1937), a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of the Basque town Guernica by German and Italian air forces during the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso's work is often categorised into periods. While the names of many of his later periods are debated, the most commonly accepted periods in his work are the Blue Period (1901–1904), the Rose Period (1904–1906), the African-influenced Period (1907–1909), Analytic Cubism (1909–1912), and Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919), also referred to as the Crystal period.

Much of Picasso's work of the late 1910s and early 1920s is in a neoclassical style, and his work in the mid-1920s often has characteristics of Surrealism. His later work often combines elements of his earlier styles.

Exceptionally prolific throughout the course of his long life, Picasso achieved universal renown and immense fortune for his revolutionary artistic accomplishments, and became one of the best-known figures in 20th-century art.

In the early 1900s, he moved between France and Spain before finally settling in Paris in 1904. He was never to return to Spain, since he was ideologically and politically opposed to General Franco and after the dictator’s death in 1975, it never happened.

 

Culture for free

On our recent cultural day, we decided in the end that the Picasso Museum would be too much and planned to do his Birth House (Casa Natal) and the Belgian Artists at the Carmen Thyssen.

We arrived 15 minutes early for free entry to Picasso’s Birth House in Plaza de la Merced, so we had time for a drink and a tapa. We chose the most authentic Spanish-looking bar and sat on its terrace for around 30 minutes. Out of interest the prices were about double what we would pay up in the mountains around Ronda.

We enjoyed our visit to Picasso’s Birth House. There were a large number of never-before-seen works by him along with photos, furniture, artefacts and explanatory texts in both Spanish and English.

It was very impressive and well worth the admittance charge of 0 euros.

We then set off on foot to the Carmen Thyssen. It was hot and sticky and the old part was choc-a-bloc with tourists.

Image preview

When we got there the queue was massive. Bad timing; the Belgian Art Exhibition was new and so everybody wanted to be the first to see it. We decided to forgo the experience and consoled ourselves in the adjacent museum shop. They had some nice stuff. I particularly liked some cushions depicting designs by Magritte, but as they cost 45€ each I decided not to bother. By the way similar cushions, showing Picasso images in the Picasso shop, cost an eye-watering 95€!

 

Other free stuff

We decided to amble back through the Casco Antiguo past the Cathedral and the Roman Amphitheatre, both free to view.

We popped into Málaga’s most famous old bar, El Pimpi, and admired the décor. We felt lucky to find a free table outside but after waiting for 20 minutes without a waiter coming near us, we decided to move on and found a lovely little place tucked away up a side street in the shadow of the Alcazaba. Cleverly named Alcasabar, we enjoyed a drink and a couple of tapas each. Just 70€ including tip. Blimey! El Pimpi would probably have cost even more!

Image preview

Then it was back to our hotel in Torremolinos for a farewell drink with our two guests before retiring to bed and before their taxi to the airport came at 5.00 am!

Although the day did not turn out quite as we planned, we still had a fabulous time, largely for free. What we saved on admission charges we spent on food and car parking, however.

We’ll be back before long to see if the queue at the Carmen Thyssen is any shorter.

 

Further reading:

https://www.secretserrania.com/2020/11/getting-stuff-for-free-in-the-serrania-de-ronda/

http://www.secretserrania.com/2020/08/working-for-free-why-er-why-not/

 



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The day I met Diana…
Friday, September 2, 2022

 

The day I met Diana…

The Culture Vulture is in nostalgic mood. He’s been sorting out his stuff recently and came across a photo dating back to September 2008. It was a photo of him which recorded the day he met Diana…

 

I’d first heard this remarkable singing voice, as I sat early in January 2008 by an open window in my apartment in Ronda, in Andalucía.  The song was playing on a neighbour’s radio.  I heard it several more times over the following days and discovered that it was a young lady from Málaga called Diana Navarro. 

I checked for the record in the shops locally, but there was nothing doing.  I finally found it a week or so later at Málaga airport as I caught a flight back to the UK, and bought it there and then.  What a buy!

The album24 Rosas, was a pure delight.  Her singing is in a modern flamenco style, but with orchestrated backing music.  I loved it!

DIANA NAVARRO: 14 RosasDIANA NAVARRO: 14 Rosas

DIANA NAVARRO: 24 Rosas

 

Fast forward several months to September 2008 and another visit to Ronda for the Feria de Pedro Romero.  As I always do when I first arrive I check the local paper to see what’s on.  Diana Navarro was scheduled to perform in the bullring at Carratraca (Málaga), an hour's drive from Ronda, on the Saturday night, three nights hence. I must definitely go, I thought. Being single at that time, I tried to find a female companion to accompany me, but failed.  Never mind, I went anyway.

Well, the concert was absolutely fantastic.  It was in the village bullring, which is an old stone affair built into the mountainside outside the village of Carratraca itself.  They’d spelt out the name of the village in candles on the sand of the arena in front of the temporary stage erected for the concert.  It looked beautiful.  As for the concert, it was unbelievably good.  If you think Diana’s voice is good on CD, wait till you hear and see her live!  Apart from being incredibly beautiful, she is quite statuesque and has an amazing presence on stage.  And that voice… well!

Towards the end of the concert I decided I would try and get backstage to speak to her!  Why not? I went round the back where a small crowd had gathered in the hope of seeing her depart.  I approached a large stocky guy dressed in black with long hair, tattoos and a range of facial ironmongery and asked if he was a roadie.  Silly question – of course he was!  

I said I’d come all the way from England especially for the concert (almost true) and might it be possible to have a brief word with Diana.  He said “leave it with me” and sure enough, a bit later he came out and gestured for me to come backstage.  In the meantime I’d asked a young Spanish couple who were also hanging around if they would take a photo of me with Diana – I didn’t have a camera with me – and email it to me if I gave them my email address. They agreed, of course, so Alicia came in with me – they would only allow two of us, for some reason. Her husband, Rafael, was very disappointed, naturally.

After a bit of a wait we were ushered in to meet Diana.  What a lovely lady – she was really humble and so chuffed that I’d ”…come all the way from England” to attend the concert and was intrigued by my tale of how I’d discovered her music.

So we chatted and kissed on the cheek (several times!), she signed a dedication on a publicity photo for each of us and the roadie took some photos.  Alicia was so thrilled and – talk about nervous – she was shaking both before and after our ‘audience’.  We also chatted to a couple of the band members, the guitarist and the drummer, who were just as chuffed that we bothered to congratulate them.

Rafael, who’d been waiting outside all this time, was understandably very envious, as were the huge crowd that had gathered outside in the meantime.

Then it was time to drive back to Ronda, listening to Diana on CD all the way.  Not the same as live, but pretty good all the same…

 

BACKSTAGE: The Culture Vulture, Diana Navarro and Alicia

 

Paul Whitelock

The Culture Vulture is a retired former languages teacher, school inspector and translator, who emigrated to the Serranía de Ronda in 2008, where he lives with his second wife, Rita. He spends his time between Montejaque and Ronda doing DIY, gardening and writing.

 

Tags:  24 RosasandaluciaCarratracaconcertDiana NavarroFeria de Pedro Romeroflamencorecordrondasinger



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PUEBLOS BLANCOS MUSIC FESTIVAL
Friday, September 2, 2022

Pueblos Blancos Music Festival

The 5th edition of this popular series of international rock music concerts known as the Pueblos Blancos Music Festival took place at the end of July 2022. Interrupted for two years by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2022 festival was eagerly anticipated by locals and visitors alike.

The series of concerts took place over four days and nights in Montejaque (Málaga) and two each in the white villages of Grazalema, Villaluenga del Rosario (both Cádiz) and Ronda (Málaga) and and was organised by Juan Castro (Montejaque), Josu Camacho (Madrid) and Philip Plata (Austin, Texas, USA) via the Fundación Sierra de Libar, a local charity foundation.

60 bands from as far afield as Austin, Texas, Barcelona, Cádiz, Canada, Finland, France and Madrid made up the roll call. The musicians paid their own travel expenses but were provided with board and lodging free of charge by the councils of the four villages involved. They were not paid for their appearances. However, the artistes viewed the festival as a great shop window for their music. One band, Joe King Carrasco, has attended all five festivals to date, but many, such as The History Department, Robin Mordecai and Civas were making their debuts. To a man and woman they all intend to return in 2023, stay for longer and maybe pick up paid gigs on the Costa del Sol, or in bigger cities with a vibrant music scene, once the local festival is over. Indeed, some of the bands this time went on to play gigs in Estepona, Marbella, Madrid, Chinchón, Logroño and Santander.

The aim of the festival is to bring together musicians and the public for meetings and cultural exchanges. This proved to be the case, particularly for me. I was based in Montejaque and had the great pleasure to get to know most of the musicians who played there. Several Texas bands took to drinking tinto de verano on my recommendation as an alternative to the dreadful Cruzcampo, which they swore is worse than the atrocious Budweiser, ubiquitous in the USA.

As well as attending most sessions in Montejaque, I also went to Ronda for the Saturday night session. Performed in the open-air Greek-style theatre, Auditorio Blas Infante, with its stunning mountain backdrop and the setting sun, this was a spectacle and a half. The acoustics were perfect and the atmosphere was buzzing.

My personal favourite bands were, in alphabetical order, Blueroomess (Barcelona), Civas (Madrid), The Del Valle Trustees (Austin), Donovan Keith (Austin), The History Department (Austin), Robin Mordecai (Austin), Sefo (Cadiz), Los Widowmakers (Madrid), and two acts which were totally different, Country and Western duo The Chisum Cattle Company (Madrid) and Jack King Noir, a solo Blues slide guitarist from Finland. There were several jam sessions where musicians who didn’t know each other played remarkable music together. During the final jam session in Montejaque , there was a guest appearance by 14-year-old Diego from England on guitar and drums. We hope he’ll be back next year.

 

Paul Whitelock

The Culture Vulture is a retired former languages teacher, school inspector and translator, who emigrated to the Serranía de Ronda in 2008, where he lives with his second wife, Rita. He spends his time between Montejaque and Ronda listening to live music, doing DIY, gardening, writing and managing his portfolio of holiday rentals.

www.a1-holidays.net 



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Great music sung in Spanish
Sunday, August 21, 2022

The Culture Vulture loves listening to music, especially live. Since he began studying Spanish at the age of 18 his love of music and songs in the Spanish language has grown ever stronger. Here is a selection of some of his favourites in chronological order of discovery.

 

JOAN MANUEL SERRAT was and still is “de puta madre" (the dog’s bollocks). I heard his music for the first time in 1970 when I made my first visit to Spain at the age of 20. He had just released his album Mediterráneo. It’s amazing and I still listen to it regularly over 50 years on.

Since the lyrics and pronunciation are very clear, when I was a Spanish teacher in the 70s and 80s, I used his songs as a teaching resource in my A-Level classes. In particular La mujer que yo quiero, Tío Alberto, Barquito de papel, as well as Mediterráneo, the title track.

Here is an example of his work:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXQQ3Zfm23E&ab_channel=JoanManuelSerrat-Topic

 

RADIO TARIFA. I am very sorry that this unique band no longer exists. I discovered their music when a girlfriend gave me the album Temporal in 1997. I subsequently bought all five of their albums.

I saw them live three times: in Plasencia (Extremadura), in Manchester (UK) and in Warrington (UK).

Carolina Luce, a Canadian friend who lives in Montejaque (Malaga) said: “I also loved this group. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to this CD, and it was perfect for parties. I especially liked the song El Mandil de Carolina.”

Emilio García from Ronda wrote: “I also remember that group; they had their audience, especially in Andalucía”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6E2ywxREgA&ab_channel=FilintoMelo

 

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB. This Cuban phenomenon came to my attention almost as soon as American singer/guitarist Ry Cooder, on a visit to Cuba, discovered a bunch of elderly musicians not making music any longer. He hauled them into the recording studio where they created their unique eponymous album in 1996. They became an overnight sensation and toured the world playing concerts. I saw them at the Royal Festival Hall in London on their 1997 tour.

German director Wim Wenders captured their 1998 performance in New York on film for a documentary—also called Buena Vista Social Club—that included interviews with the musicians conducted in Havana. Wenders' film was released in June 1999 to critical acclaim, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary feature and winning numerous accolades including Best Documentary at the European Film Awards. This was followed up by a second documentary Buena Vista Social Club: Adios in 2017.

The success of both the album and film sparked a revival of interest in traditional Cuban music and Latin American music in general. Some of the Cuban performers later released well-received solo albums and recorded collaborations with stars from different musical genres. The "Buena Vista Social Club" name became an umbrella term to describe these performances and releases, and has been likened to a brand label that encapsulates Cuba's "musical golden age" between the 1930s and 1950s. The new success was fleeting for the most recognizable artists in the ensemble: Compay SegundoRubén González, and Ibrahim Ferrer, who died at the ages of ninety-five, eighty-four, and seventy-eight respectively; Compay Segundo and González in 2003, then Ferrer in 2005.

Suddenly these poor folk had became very rich. Sadly, as mentioned, the older ones have now died, but they gave lovers of Cuban music a great few years.

The first track on the album, Chan Chan, performed by then 89-year-old Company Segundo,is a four chord son that became what Cooder described as "the Buena Vista's calling card".

Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGbRZ73NvlY&ab_channel=WorldCircuitRecords

 

ORISHAS (Havana, Cuba). I don’t remember exactly when and how I discovered the music of the Hip Hop band. I think I read a review of their first album A lo Cubano in the English newspaper The Guardian in 2000. At that time I was developing my love of Cuban music through bands like the Buena Vista Social Club, The Afro-Cuban All Stars and Sierra Maestra.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZdGMTsd6fw&ab_channel=elloko59

 

CHAMBAO. This flamenco chill band appeared in 2001 with their first album Pokito a poko. A real sensation. This album was played a lot in the bars in Ronda at that time, especially in the old bar irlandés O’Flagherty’s on Calle Santa Cecilia opposite Bar Faustino. Both bars are closed these days. Unfortunately.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q10qrXK-Fws&ab_channel=ChambaoVEVO 

 

DIANA NAVARRO. I discovered the music of this singer from Málaga by chance in January 2008 in Ronda. Eight months later I was watching her in concert in the bullring in Carratraca (Málaga). After the concert I got to go ‘backstage’ and meet her. I have a photo as proof (it appears in the article below).

Here is one of my favourite songs by her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIlEKknleJg

I wrote this article in 2020, describing our meeting: https://www.secretserrania.com/2020/10/the-day-i-met-diana/

Carolina Luce from Canada commented: “That’s wonderful that you met her! I was also enthralled by her voice when I first heard it, when I was living in Granada and her single Sola first came out, in 2005 I believe. I went out right away to buy the CD No te olvides de mi, listened to it many many times, and even challenged myself to sing along with her”.

***

So, those are my six choices. I hope you liked them.

Please feel free to comment or make other suggestions.



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Ronda is known as the “City of Dreams”, but who came up with the name?
Sunday, August 21, 2022

Ronda is known as La Ciudad Soñada, the City of Dreams. The person who coined this expression was Czech/German poet Rainer Maria Rilke who lived in the town for a period in the early 20th Century. He wrote: “He buscado por todas partes la ciudad soñada y al fin la he encontrado en Ronda.”  (“… I have sought everywhere the city of my dreams, and I have finally found it in Ronda.”)

 

Rainer Maria Rilke was born in Prague, at that time in Czechoslovakia, in 1875. He was raised as a girl for the first few years of his life by his devoutly Catholic mother to ‘replace’ a dead sister. Later he was sent to school at a military academy, which he hated.

In Munich he met Russian-born psychoanalyst and author Lou Andreas Salomé, who remained a strong intellectual influence on Rilke for the rest of his life. When their affair ended, Rilke lived briefly in an artists’ colony  in Worpswede, near Bremen. There he met and later married the sculptor Clara Westhoff, but the couple soon separated, and Rilke remained deeply ambivalent about intimate relationships for the rest of his life.

In 1902 he moved to Paris but although Rilke lived in Paris on and off for more than a decade, he experienced the city as an ordeal.

In late 1912 Rilke developed a massive case of writer’s block. Unable to find poetic inspiration, he left his home in Paris and travelled south to Toledo in Spain, hoping its dramatic architecture, celebrated landscape and the paintings of El Greco would reignite his creativity. But the inspiration he was seeking eluded him. Instead, he was gripped by a profound sense of alienation.

Rilke travelled on to Cordoba and Seville, but his sense of alienation only deepened. On a whim he took a train to Ronda, where he took a room in the Hotel Reina Victoria, built in the 19th century to attract well-to-do British tourists from Gibraltar.

Looking out over the deep ravine which divides the city in two, Rilke was transfixed by the landscape. Writing enthusiastically to another of his female friends, he praised the “strong and splendid air” of Ronda, and the mountains which “spread out like a psalter you could sing psalms from”.

‘For Rilke, Ronda was a place of liberation,’ says Tony Stephens, one of the world’s foremost Rilke scholars, and emeritus professor of German at Sydney University.  ‘The poems he wrote there are quite experimental. He kept them back from his publisher. One of the great poems he wrote there, The Spanish Trilogy, wasn’t published until after his death.’

Rilke is arguably the best-known German poet, and a towering figure in 20th century literature. His stay in Ronda proved to be a turning point in his poetic development, but the poems he wrote there have only rarely been translated and are almost unknown in English.

In fact, Rilke made some of the most daring and innovative poetry of the early 20th century thrive during his stay in Ronda. In The Spanish Trilogy, written in the weeks from December 1912 to January 1913, he achieves, at least temporarily, the unity of self and world which was the ultimate goal of his tormented pilgrimage.

Why Rilke chose not to publish this remarkable poem in his lifetime remains a mystery. But this and some of the other poems he wrote in Ronda, such as The Raising of Lazarus and The Sixth Elegy, certainly restored his confidence.

In the last years of his life, after the First World War, Rilke finally settled in the French speaking part of Switzerland, in a chateau which his patron Werner Reinhart placed at his disposal.  Until then, says Stephens, Rilke ‘constantly roamed Europe on a tormented pilgrimage’. He never worked, relying on the generosity of patrons and his long-suffering publisher, who also footed the bill for his stay in Ronda.

 

Epilogue

In Ronda there is a real estate agency named after him, plus a driving school, a car park and a pub, regrettably now permanently closed. A street also bears his name, and there is a statue in his honour in the grounds of the Hotel Reina Victoria. The same hotel also used to house a little museum in the room where he stayed in 1912-13. Room 208. However, The Reina Victoria hotel was taken over by the Catalonia Hotels group and was remodelled in 2013. As a result Room 208 is no longer the Rilke Museum. However, a few preserved artefacts have been made into a tiny exhibition of Rilke’s realia behind a glass display case, near the Cafeteria Rilke on the ground floor of the hotel. There are several books, some photos of the poet and a framed page of something he’d written in German. Intriguingly there is also an old copy of his hotel bill.

 

Tags: Rilke, Ronda, poet, German, The Spanish Trilogy, The Raising of Lazarus, The Sixth Elegy, Hotel Reina Victoria 

 



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‘Novias’ en Atajate
Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Anoche presentó en Atajate (Málaga) La Pequeña Compañía del Proyecto Platea la obra “Novias”, una comedia escrita por dos actrices del mismo grupo de teatro.

Emma Cherry y Charo Carrasco escribieron la obra como medida de escape durante el confinamiento causado por Covid-19. Estrenó en Ronda en el Convento de Santo Domingo en septiembre de 2020.

The Culture Vulture, un británico residente en La Serrania de Ronda desde 2008 asistió a esa primera presentación y escribió entonces una crítica muy positiva. [Haz clic aquí para leerla]

Anoche llevó a su mujer a ver la obra, que no había visto antes.

He aquí su nueva crítica:

 

Habían instalado el escenario en el aparcamiento de Atajate, el municipio más pequeño de la provincia de Málaga. La temperatura había bajado bastante y el público se sintió muy confortable.

‘Novias’ surgió a través de la escritura de un argumento que habla de cuatro mujeres que acuden a la última prueba de su vestido de novia en un taller de costura. De ese encuentro surgen una serie de divertidas reflexiones. “Es una comedia muy fresca, muy dinámica que te hace olvidarte de todo lo demás durante la hora y quince minutos que dura”, han insistido las autoras.

Dirigida por el actor profesional rondeño Marcos Marcell, la obra ha funcionado muy bien en muchos niveles, con un entusiasmo grande por parte de las cuatro actrices, Emma Cherry, Charo Carrasco, Ana Belén Sánchez y Nieves Rodríguez. 

Marcell ha destacado el trabajo desarrollado por las autoras y las actrices. “Nos hace muy felices presentar una comedia 100% rondeña que es una respuesta a esta situación que estamos viviendo de noche continua. Es una ventana abierta a la ilusión y la alegría y para toda la familia”, ha explicado el director.

Con cuatro canciones en vivo muy bien presentadas, y un denouement muy divertido e inesperado pasamos una hora y pico muy agradables al aire libre en el aparcamiento de Atajate.

El público, unas 80 personas, y tres perros, vino de todas partes: de Atajate mismo, de Ronda, Montejaque, Benaojan y Arriate y también de San Pedro de Alcántara y Cuevas del Becerro. Al final dio una ovación de pie muy merecida.

Las cuatro actrices fueron fenomenales: la neurótica Soledad, representada por Emma Cherry, actriz profesional inglesa; la ‘snob’ muy rica y muy especial Mercedes (Charo Carrasco); la ‘virgen’ frustrada y extrovertida María (Anabelén Sánchez); y Nieves Rodriguez, quien desempeñó el papel de Coco, la experimentada propietaria del taller de bodas.

En mi opinión esta presentación de ‘Novias’ fue mejor que la ‘premiere’, y mi mujer Rita, después de haber visto ‘El enfermo imaginario’ de la misma compañía en enero, opinó: “Es un grupo de teatro fantástico. Aunque no lo son, presentan como profesionales - con mucho entusiasmo y ritmo. Me ha encantado.”

¡Enhorabuena a todos!

 

Más:

La original critica de ‘Novias’ está aquí.



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7 de julio – San Fermín
Thursday, July 7, 2022

“Uno de enero, dos de febrero, tres de marzo, cuatro de abril,

Cinco de mayo, seis de junio, siete de julio, San Fermin.”

 

So begins the traditional song about the start of the Sanfermines, as this week-long festival in Pamplona, in Navarra, northern Spain, is known. There are many events but one of the most emblematic is el encierro ( bullrunning) which take place every morning, and the corridas de toros (bullfights) every afternoon at 5 pm.

Today is the 7 July and at 8 am a firework signalled the start of the encierro and six toros bravos for this afternoon’s corrida were set loose from the stables and ran through the streets to the plaza de toros half a mile away.

In front of these fierce beasts, accompanied by six oxen to keep them together, ran aficionados, drunks and young American males trying to show how macho they are.

The side streets are blocked off by wooden barriers to keep an enclosed channel for the runners and the bulls. But Pamplona is a working town, so the barriers have to be dismantled after the run and reassembled the following morning.

This work starts at 5.00 am, for there are 900 posts and 2700 planks or rails to be put in place.

Television Española (TVE) first broadcast the encierro in 1982 and this year they’ll be doing so again after a two-year interruption because of the pandemic.

In the run-up to the first encierro today, La 1 interviewed David, a regular sanferminero as the runners are known. He was badly gored in 2019 but is back again this year about to run. Is he crazy or what?

At 8 a rocket was fired and the six bulls accompanied by six oxen exited the corral and began their run to the bullring.

There seemed to be a thousand runners, most dressed in traditional white with red bandanas or head scarves, although there were probably only several hundred. I didn’t see any gorings but a good number fell and were trampled by bulls, oxen and other runners alike.

I have to say, I didn’t see any females taking part. I guess they’re far too sensible.

The American writer Ernest Hemingway was an aficionado a los toros (bullfight fan) and was often to be seen in Pamplona between 1923 and 1959. He did much to raise the profile of the Sanfermines outside of Spain, in particular through the description in his novel The Sun Also Rises and the reports he made as a journalist. 

The event is, of course, dangerous. Since 1925, 15 people have been killed during the event – most recently on July 10, 2009  - and every year between 200 and 300 people are injured during the run, although most injuries are contusions due to falls and are not serious.

Today´s encierro lasted 2 minutes and 35 seconds, faster than the average 3 minutes.

 

“A Pamplona hemos de ir

Con una media, con una media.

A Pamplona hemos de ir,

Con una media y un calcetín.”

 

Sources:

RTVE

Wikipedia

 

Further reading:

https://www.eyeonspain.com/blogs/theculturevulture/21850/remembering-paquirri-torero-extraordinaire.aspx



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Whatever happened to RADIO TARIFA?
Sunday, May 29, 2022

No not a radio station, but a unique band that emerged in Andalucía in the 1990s.  After nearly 20 years of touring throughout the world and the release of four albums, the group gave its farewell performance in Barcelona in November 2006.

radio tarifa temporal cd - Comprar CDs de Música Flamenco, Canción española  y Cuplé en todocoleccion - 36278151

A friend gifted me a copy of this band’s second album, TEMPORAL, shortly after its release in 1997.  She hadn’t heard them play, but liked the cover!

Well, the cover was indeed good, but the music was sensational! A fascinating and unique fusion of several styles.

This multi-national music ensemble, combined Flamenco, Arab-Andalusian music, Arabic music, Moorish music and other musical influences of the Mediterranean, the Middle Ages and the Caribbean.

The name Radio Tarifa comes from an imaginary radio station in Tarifa, a small town in the Spanish province of Cádiz, Andalucia, the closest part of Spain to Morocco.

 

Radio Tarifa and me

Serendipity kicked in during a holiday in Extremadura in 2002 when we arrived in Plasencia and I discovered that Radio Tarifa was due to play in the square that night. What an amazing coincidence!

And what a great concert it was! In the interval I approached the bass player, who I knew to be English, and had a great chat. David Purdye, a Geordie, had joined the band as a temporary replacement. Despite having no Spanish, he was still with the band several years later … and loving it.

I was to see the group perform live twice more, later that year in the huge capacity Bridgewater  Hall in Manchester and a year later in a sports hall in Warrington, with a capacity of about 50. Down on their luck, or what? 

Radio Tarifa split up in 2006, their lead singer and driving force, Benjamin Escoriza, died in 2012 and that was effectively that for this unique band.

 

History of the band

Both Fain Dueñas (percussion, Spain) and Vincent Molino (flute, France) were students of Moroccan multi-instrumentalist and composer Tarik Banzi of the Al-Andalus Ensemble. Together they founded an early music group playing music from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance called Ars Antiqua Musicalis, although this group was unable to find commercial success.

When they met Benjamin Escoriza (Granada), a troubador flamenco singer raised by gypsies, in Madrid in the late 1980s, the last piece was in place.

Their first recording together, Rumba Argelina, was recorded in 1993 and became a sensation in Europe when it was released in 1996, and again when it was issued (through association with Nonesuch Records) in America in 1997.

Radio Tarifa: Temporal : Spellbindingmusic.com

The critical and financial success of that disc made it possible to put together a fully-fledged touring band which played throughout the world.

After nearly 20 years together, according to their website their farewell performance took place in November 2006, in Barcelona.

 

Discography

  • Rumba Argelina (1993)
  • Temporal (1996)
  • Cruzando El Rio (2001)
  • Fiebre (2003) (live at the 2002 Toronto Small World Music Festival)

RUMBA ARGELINA was presented as an eclectic work with Arab, Oriental, German Medieval, old Andalucian, Sefardic, Sanabrian music and some themes composed by Fain with lyrics written by Benjamin Escoriza.

The CD had fantastic reviews and received a great public reaction both in Spain and internationally. By this time the group had grown to eight people with a flamenco dancer included. They toured Spain and different European countries, with tremendous success.

On their second album, TEMPORAL (1996), they tried to go deeper into the traditional Spanish folklore that defines them, making a creative and wonderful sound with music from different Spanish regions. Two of the songs were sung by the gypsy singer Rafael Jimenez "Falo" who is one of the great singers of traditional flamenco. His interest for the traditional songs of the north of Spain and flamenco are what attracted him to RADIO TARIFA.

On CRUZANDO EL RÍO (2001), recorded in Faín's then recently completed studio, RADIO TARIFA proposed a new voyage in Iberian music with diversions to Renaissance ("Si j'ai perdu mon ami" de Josquin Desprez) and traditional japanese music ("Gujo Bushi") with the collaboration of flamenco dancer Joaquin Ruiz and the singer/piper Merche Trujillo.

Radio Tarifa – Temporal (1996, CD) - Discogs

This work received great international critical acclaim (one of the top ten best records of 2001 on the "World Music Charts Europe"). RADIO TARIFA was nominated for the "BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music - 2001".

RADIO TARIFA celebrated the tenth anniversary of their first groundbreaking disc in 2003 with the release of FIEBRE (Fever), their first ever live album. With it they not only capture the exhilarating 'fevered' atmosphere of their live gigs, but also show just how far they had evolved during their first decade together.

FIEBRE proved to be another critical success for the band, with ROOTS calling it "exemplary" and MOJO stating that "they damn near ignite, pouring their souls into the set." The album received a nomination for the "BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music - 2003" and has also been nominated in the Best Folk Album category at the 2004 Latin Grammy Awards.

Temporal - song by Radio Tarifa | Spotify

Personnel

RADIO TARIFA was created at the end of the 80s by three musicians: Fain S. Dueñas, percussions, strings and arrangements, Benjamin Escoriza, singer and lyric writer, from Granada, and Vincent Molino, in the wind section.

  • Benjamin Escoriza - vocals
  • Fain Sanchez Dueñas - darbuka, plato, backing vocals
  • Vincent Molino - ney, crumhorn, poitou oboe

Guests:

  • Jaime Muela - flute, soprano saxophone
  • Pedro Esparza - soprano saxophone
  • Amir Haddad - oud, backing vocals
  • Wafir Sh. Gibril - accordion
  • Ramiro Amusategui - buzuki
  • Jorge Gomez - flamenco guitar, electric guitar
  • Sebastian Rubio - pandereta, bongos
  • David Purdye - electric bass, backing vocals
  • Peter Oteo - electric bass

The name RADIO TARIFA is an explicit reference to the type of musical wave that the group wanted its listeners to catch - Cape Tarifa is the point of Spain which is closest to Africa.

According to the group: "Tarifa is a frontier town, a no-man´s land and, above all, the Mediterranean´s balcony". RADIO TARIFA´s world was one of Iberian musical styles (flamenco, Arab-Andalucian, medieval and Castillian) where unfolding melodies and an enriched rhythmic base permitted continued dialogue between the percussive instruments, wood and string sections, and voice.

Distancing itself from all forms of musical purism in their choice of timbres and treatment of melodies, the group mixed arrangements of traditional compositions with their own original works. They used instruments which were played in Ancient Egypt (ney : a cane flute), and others from classical Greek and Roman times and Mediterranean instruments such as the wooden oboe or harmonium, combining them with modern instruments like the saxophone or electric bass guitar. The resultant music is both familiar and exotic.

 

Touring history

Since the release of Rumba Argelina, they have played in hundreds of concerts and each time RADIO TARIFA played, they left their audience hypnotized by their richness of rhythms and melodies.

Apart from performing regularly in Spain, RADIO TARIFA played abroad and audiences in the following countries had the chance to enjoy their music : Germany, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, Hungary, Eslovenia, Austria, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, ,Egypt, Palestine, Australia, New Zealand, Brasil, Colombia, Mexico, Canada and United States.

RADIO TARIFA´s live performances consist of eight musicians.

 

The end

RADIO TARIFA broke up in 2006. On their website they announced:

“After 14 years of intense live shows, records, tiring trips, jokes, arguments and good feeling, we are taking a break for an indefinite period of time. Thanks to all of you who have given us all the love and support, following us during these fantastic years.“

Their lead singer and driving force, Benjamin Escoriza, died in 2012 and that was that for this unique band.

They left a great legacy though! I still listen to them often.

 



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