2019 Camerata Campbell Series

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The 2019 Temporada Campbell started off with a bang—a Big Bang. Entitled “The Big Bang Without the Theory,” the outstanding percussion concert did include a bit of theory after all. Click any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Quick! Do you know how many types of percussive instruments there are? Two main categories: membranophones and idiophones. And what differentiates the two?

The Camerata’s Percussion Ensemble has played for us before, and they always astound—especially because they are so young to be so incredibly talented!

Mazatlán, we are in luck, as this was the first concert of this Sunday at Noon series, which continues through the end of February. Do NOT miss getting your tickets and enjoying a Sunday afternoon of pleasurable music followed by a lunch al fresco in historic downtown. February 27th should be of particular interest to our readers. See you in the theater!

Omara y El Cigala

 

There are a few performers on my personal “bucket list,” and TWO of them performed TOGETHER last night in Mazatlán! Half the city turned out to listen, and not one seat remained empty in the entire Angela Peralta Theater. In fact, most members of the press were allowed only 40 minutes to photograph the event, after which they left as they had no where to sit. The show went on for a full two hours and the performers had the house on their feet, singing and dancing. It was one large karaoke and dance fest.

Diego Ramón Jiménez Salazar, known to the world as “El Cigala,” has that deep,  echoing, passionate flamenco voice that half the world, myself included, are so fond of. He’s perhaps best known for “Lágrimas Negras” with Bebo Valdés. El Cigala is Spanish Romani, “gypsy,” born in El Rastro in Madrid. It would seem Mazatlecas are fond of that bloodline, as there were quite a few proposals and propositions shouted his way during last night’s performance. It was a joy to witness the freedom with which younger and older women alike showered their compliments on Diego while sitting right next to their loving husbands. I heard more than one woman say to another, “he is a widower, you know.” Click any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Omara Portuondo Peláez, in contrast, is Cubana, known for her clear renditions of boleros, jazz and son cubano, singer for the Buena Vista Social Club. She started as a dancer with the Cabaret Tropicana in 1950. At 87 years old Omara is nearly forty years Diego’s senior, but she is full of mischief and sparkle and made sure we knew she could still touch her toes and the floor, and swing her hips to the rhythm.

The two sang two different sets alone, and two different sets of duets; it was so much fun! We were serenaded with “Te quiero, te quiero,” “Amar y vivir,” “Lo que me queda por vivir,” “Si te contara,” “Lágrimas negras,” “Compromiso,” “Obsesión,” “Vete de mí,” “Silencio,” “Noche cubana,” “La última noche,” and “Dos gardenias para ti.” After a lengthy request for an encore, the two came out for one final song, “Bésame mucho,” like you have never, ever heard it sung before.

They were accompanied by a pair of excellent pianists (Jaime Calabuch playing for Cigala, though I preferred Omara’s pianist) , a bassist, drummer and percussionist. Sorry, but no where could I find the names of the musicians. It was truly a night to remember, and no doubt the highlight of the Festival Cultural Mazatlán 2017!

Are We Blessed or What?

12650991_10208208775554212_2260076847104623997_nWhat an honor to go to the Temporada Gordon Campbell concert today with my friend Jessica, who is a total groupie of Maestro Cambell’s. She was beyond thrilled when I introduced them, she couldn’t believe she actually got to have a conversation with him, and then—the cherry on top of everything—she got to get a picture with the Maestro! It is such a complete pleasure when we are able to bring joy to our friends’ lives. Especially, perhaps, when it’s something simple, as we all know that the Maestro is very down-to-earth, approachable, and so very passionate and committed to his audience.

Last season we published a series called “Behind the Chamber,” in which we conducted interviews with the Maestro and his wife, Guianeya Román. I was so very happy to have Gordon tell me that Daniela Liebman, the then-12-year old piano sensation, had been able to obtain first-class representation in part due to the article we wrote about her. Love it when good things go around and come around!

This season’s line up is also magnificent. I don’t know where Gordon gets his incredible creativity from, but the ideas just seem to flow from him. The season is already half over, so be sure to get your tickets now for the remainder of the schedule. The season resumes after Carnavál, on Valentine’s Day, February 14th.

The “Gordon Campbell Season” is a series of six concerts on Sundays at noon. As the program always takes place during Carnavál, there is one concert that is held in Casa Haas instead of in the Angela Peralta theater. Due to the smaller size of the venue, two showings are scheduled that week, at noon and again at five.

Today was that concert, and it was completely sold out, standing room only. And my oh my was the music good! Performers were Cuarteto Ventura from Culiacán, and to say they played Mexican boleros is a huge understatement. Their classical guitars (including a small one called requinto), congas and incredible harmonies resurrected the original arrangements of music from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema—that era of bad movies and wonderful songs. During the set they also played one Cuban son, and, after the standing ovation, they played a ranchero as an encore. Other than that, the event dripped romanticism as you’ve rarely heard it. We so very much enjoyed ourselves! I kept both the official program list of the songs they intended to play, and the list of the songs they actually played, and I’m planning to put together an online playlist of this gems of Mexican romantic music.

Click on any photo below to view it larger or see a slideshow. My apologies, but I only took my cell phone this time. People recently get very cranky when I take a camera to an event; a bit of NOB mentality impinging itself in our paradise…

Last week’s concert was also incredibly cool. Tiempos Pasados, an antique music ensemble from Guanajuato, performed using instruments that were breathtakingly gorgeous works of art mostly handmade by the group’s Artistic Director, Armando Ávila, who played a different instrument for nearly every song the group played. He is an incredibly talented gentleman—a physicist, instrument maker and musician! Lord knows what else he does in his spare time.

The last three events of this season look to be outstanding as usual. I love how Gordon speaks in both Spanish and English, educating us to the things we might miss without his narration. His rapport with the musicians, and the ear he has for bringing to Mazatlán unique events, are a true gift to our city. Be sure to get tickets (at any Angela Peralta outlet—theater or Rico’s Café) and take advantage!

 

Behind the Chamber: Hot Jazz

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Member of the group, “Hot Jazz”

Hey baby! Is jazz your bag? Ready to get down to some 18 karat grooves? Then jitterbug your way over to the Angela Peralta barrelhouse this Sunday March 1st at noon, where you’ll be able to groove to the sounds of ragtime, Dixieland, New Orleans, swing, and blues.

Closing out this year’s Camerata Gordon Campbell series will be the group “Hot Jazz,” which includes seven very talented musicians from Mexico, the USA, Poland and Spain:

  • Maciej Bosak on licorice stick (clarinet)
  • Jose Ramon Sanchez, a sraw boss on the popsicle stick (saxophone)
  • Robby McCabe, who’s wild on the trumpet
  • Hector Company Albert on the sackbut (trombone)
  • Polo Carillo, a finger zinger on the jazz box (guitar)
  • Oscar Corral, who Bose bounces the bass, and
  • Edmundo Langner Romero, who will be pounding the tubs (drums).

Below is the Maestro and his wife’s Behind-the-Chamber preview of the upcoming concert:

Tickets are 200 pesos for this concert and can be purchased at the TAP box office or online.

You may be wondering where this Boogie Woman’s sudden turn of jazz phrasing comes from? I’d like to credit All About Jazz’s “Jazz Slang.

Social Services’ (DIF) Annual Report

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Sylvia Treviño de Felton giving her first “State of DIF Mazatlán” report in the Angela Peralta Theater

This morning the Presidenta del Systema DIF de Mazatlán, Sylvia Treviño de Felton, gave her first annual report to a full house in our gorgeous Angela Peralta Theater. I attended with a group of girlfriends, and walked out of today’s event amazed at the amount of work Ms. Treviño and her team have been able to achieve. Congratulations and thank you to all!

I’ve long been fascinated with the incredible work done by Mexico’s DIF, the national system for the Development of the Family (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia). DIF’s services target children, women, the handicapped, and families in need. Its broad range of services includes, among many more:
  • Healthcare, including basic services, eye care and physical therapy
  • Education to prevent teenage pregnancy and domestic violence, and on topics such as human rights
  • Occupational training
  • Free breakfasts for school children
  • Food, blankets, and coats for the needy
  • Scholarships
  • Early childhood education and eldercare
  • Drug rehab
  • Community centers
  • Dances, balls, sports events, and parties
  • Help for unwed mothers
  • The improvement of parks and public spaces

DIF’s is a much different system than those I’m familiar with from my previous residences: the USA, where the Department of Health and Human Services seems to me far removed from daily life, and churches, non-profits and other civic organizations play a major role in feeding the homeless or aiding victims of domestic violence; or in Japan, where government-provided social services seem primarily to involve health care and pensions.

When I’ve been disappointed by municipal administrations, somehow our local DIF still shines through. How much better, then, under a first couple who seem to truly and honestly care about the welfare of our people and the city?

This morning’s event kicked off with two songs sung by a selection of adorable girls from the local DIF chorus, and a dance performance done in silhouette and demonstrating some of the various services provided by DIF.

Instead of the usual long and detailed verbal report, Ms. Treviño instead showed us a ten-minute video summarizing DIF Mazatlán’s major activities during the first year of the Felton administration. It was much more impactful to see photos and watch video as the facts and figures were shared.

Sylvia followed the video with a short and heartfelt presentation, and shared copies of the official 2014 printed report with the Mayor and the Director of DIF Mazatlán.

If you regularly read this blog, you know that I am frequently disappointed by government officials who so frequently grab the limelight and the credit away from staff and volunteers who do the day-to-day heavy lifting. Such was not the case today. Ms. Treviño de Felton showed a second video, one she had created especially to thank DIF staff—the team that helps realize all the good work on behalf of children, women, the elderly, the handicapped, and families in need in our municipality. It was a wonderful feeling to be amongst the cheering, hooting and hollering coming from the DIF staff and volunteers present in the theater, as they saw photos of their favorite colleagues appear on screen.

If you are not familiar with the activities in which DIF Mazatlán is engaged, I urge you to watch the video below, subtitled in English. Unfortunately the video that was shown this morning, summarizing the first year, does not yet appear on DIF Mazatlán’s YouTube channel. I’m confident it will in a few days, so if you’re interested, be sure to check the link.