Nordic Passion Continues: Oslo International Flamenco Festival

Two weeks ago, I travelled to the Oslo International Flamenco Festival with my teacher, flamenco dancer Elina Robinson and flamenco singer Anna Murtola. My thoughts and feelings on some of the aspects, and especially the great re-encounter with maestra Rafaela Carrasco, can now be read on the Minna en el Mundo page of the blog.

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3rd Oslo International Flamenco Festival, flyer borrowed from the OIFF Facebook page

Minna en el Mundo: Nordic Fire, Nordic Passion

Last Saturday was the much awaited premiere of Nordic Flamenco, the newest project of the Imperfecto Collective based in Helsinki. The evening brought together an impressive group of flamenco professionals from and working in the Nordic Countries. The sold out performance brought to the stage dancers Ann Sehlstedt (SWE), Elina Robinson (FIN), guitarist Afra Rubino (SWE), singers Hilde Karlsen (NOR), Anna Murtola (FIN), percussionists Christopher Rodulfo (AW) and dancer-singer-percussionist Rodrigo Gonzalez (MEX) and video artist Christian Robinson (GB).

My thoughts on Nordic Flamenco by the Imperfecto Collective can now be read at the Minna en el Mundo page.

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Photo courtesy of Imperfecto Collective and Matti Sten Photography.

Sol y Sombra Blog 1-v

Sol y Sombra Blog juhlii tänä viikonloppuna 1-vuotissyntymäpäiviään. Juhlan kunniaksi skoolattiin cavalla ja korvapuustilla, eli Suomen ja Espanjan parhaimmistolla. Flamencoa juhlaan kuuluu ilman muuta, eilen ja huomenna ruotsalaisen flamencotanssija Ann Sehlstedtin ihastuttavalla kurssilla ja tänään loppuunmyydyllä Nordic Flamenco Clubilla. Ensi viikonloppuna muuten lisää flamencojuhlaa Oslon flamencofestareilla!

Mahtavaa viikonloppua blogin lukijoille!

Minna en el Mundo: Flamenco in my heart

Flamenco is an endless challenge and the greatest reward that brings me strength, joy and determination. This past week has been once again a very meaningful one, as we have celebrated Helsinki XXI Flamenco Festival.

My thoughts on the challenges and rewards realized this week can be read as the first flamenco post of year 2019 on the Minna en el Mundo page of this blog.

NB! The thought of having flamenco in my heart has been borrowed from flamenco singer Anna Murtola.

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Flamenco is teamwork. Duo Sal y Azucar with singer Anna Murtola, choreographer Elina Robinson and guitarist Petri Lahtinen at the backstage of the opening club of the festival. Photo by Anni af Hällström.

With a Fire Within

This text has also been published @ Minna en el Mundo flamenco text library.


For the last few days I have been trying to find “the right words” to describe Ääniä Pohjoisesta – Voices from the North concert that was part of Etnosoi festival of 2018. Sometimes, however, there are so many thoughts and emotions that instead of finding the right thing to say, you have to write the words that are in your heart.

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Por alegrías – photo by Jari Flinck, previously published on Etnosoi Facebook page

This concert was special because it was the release concert of Fuego por Dentro, the first solo album of the dear and much admired flamenco singer Anna Murtola and in fact of the first album published by a Finnish flamenco singer. And what a release concert! The evening started with an intriguing and fascinating performance by Vildá, a duo composed of Sami yoik artist Hildá Länsman and accordionist Viivi Maria Saarenkylä. Their positive energy gave a special spice to the evening. While I am familiar with accordion music, I certainly was surprised by the versatility of yoik and how well it plays with the accordion. Having seen Stomp in New York just two weeks ago, I was also awestruck by the duo’s versatile use of different kinds of sounds. So warm thank you to Vildá for this experience!

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Vildá – photo by Jari Flinck, previously published on Etnosoi Facebook page

After a technical break, the stage was set for Anna Murtola and the musicians accompanying her. Having seen Anna Murtola on stage numerous times and having had the honor to dance to her singing, I knew great talent could be expected. With a voice that weeps and smiles and radiates, she enthralled us all. The group of musicians on stage generated their own kind of warmth and positive energy from Joonas Widenius Trio (Joonas Widenius, flamenco guitar, Karo Sampela, percussions and Hannu Rantanen, double bass) to visiting artists Hildá Länsman (vocals), Venla Ilona Blom (backing vocals), Stiliana Ravelska Tyrkkö (violin), Helmi Camus (piano) and Ali Haithem (oud). The concert grew from a kindling flame with the song la Llama, hit a colder front with the lyrics of Tápame and warmed again to the joyous sounds of a traditional alegrías and the soothing sounds of the touching lullaby Para los ojos negros. The first half ended with Earth second by Joonas Widenius Trio. In the second half the fireworks continued starting with a traditional improvised bulerías, followed by the incredibly beautiful tango Kuljen takaisin, a Finnish translation of one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite movies both named Volver. The title song of the album Fuego por dentro, brilliantly performed by Murtola, was sure to be bring tears to many eyes. It was followed by Bulería del Desenamoro, song of the ending love, and by the final song Sobre las palmas, translated to Finnish from the Arabic by langugage wizard Sampsa Peltonen and to Spanish by Anna Murtola herself. This song brought on stage the whole group of talented musicians to the joyful sounds of a traditional Arabic love song. After a well deserved standing ovation, Murtola returned to the stage to sing a capella the touching Andando sola and left the close to full Malmitalo audience feeling we had experienced something extraordinary.

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With a Fire Within – photo by Matti Sten, previously published on Anna Murtola, Flamenco Singer’s Facebook page

This evening was full of fire and light and for this I owe a very special thank you to the artist. So, thank you Anna for your exceptional warmth and charisma that brings light to the darkest of November skies. It must be fuego por dentro – the fire within.

Valoa lokakuun pimeyteen

Lokakuun puolivälistä jouluun on vuoden pimein aika, kun päivä lyhenee, eikä lunta Etelä-Suomessa yleensä ole. Pimeyttä helpottamaan on siis keksittävä keinoja. Kotona pimeyttä voi helpottaa ns. kaamosvaloilla ja yhä useammin aiemmin jouluvaloina tunnettuja valoja näkee ihmisten ikkunoissa ja parvekkeilla jo lokakuusta lähtien. Näin myös meillä. Helsingissä myös esimerkiksi Stockmannin tavaratalo on koristeltu valoin jo hyvissä ajoin ennen joulusesonkia, tuoden valoa pimeyteen.

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Valot piristävät lokakuun pimeässä

 

Kotimme lähellä Alppilassa sijaitsevalla Linnanmäellä on vietetty kymmenen päivän ajan jo perinteeksi muodostunutta valokarnevaalia. Valokarnevaali juhlistaa huvipuiston kauden päättäjäisiä ja huipentuu tänään sunnuntaina 21.10. klo 21.50 järjestettävään ilotulitukseen. Meille alueen asukkaille Linnanmäen valot tuovat toivottua piristystä pimeään maisemaan.

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Perinteinen vuoristorata valaistaan Linnanmäen valokarnevaaleilla

 

Vaikka Linnanmäellä on valokarnevaalien aikana myös mahdollista ajaa valaistuissa huvipuistolaitteissa, meidän perinteisiimme on kuulunut iltakävely ihailemassa alueen valotaideteoksia. Näin tänäkin vuonna. Tänä vuonna ensimmäistä kertaa koimme, että Linnanmäen huikean hieno tapahtuma alkaa olla jo niin suosittu, että huvipuiston rajat alkavat tulla vastaan. On Linnanmäeltä uskomattoman hieno idea sekä pidentää huvipuistokautta että tarjota ihmisille hieman toisenlaista hupia pimeään vuodenaikaan, mutta mietimme alkaako kotoisa huvipuistomme jo käydä hieman pieneksi väkimäärälle ja onko lähivuosina mahdollisesti tarpeen rajoittaa kävijämäärää turvallisuuden varmistamiseksi. Tästä huolimatta, Linnanmäen valotaideteokset olivat jälleen näkemisen arvoisia.

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Karuselli juhlavalaistuksessa

 

Miten muuten pimeää vastaan voi taistella? Muun muassa harrastamalla, nauttimalla ruskasta, tapaamalla ystäviä ja kuuntelemalla musiikkia. Omissa kuulokkeissani on tällä viikolla soinut flamencolaulaja Anna Murtolan maanantaina 15.10. julkaistu esikoislevy “Fuego por Dentro”, joka samalla on ensimmäinen suomalainen flamencolaulajan soololevy. Hienolla levyllä Annaa säestää muun muassa Joonas Widenius Trio. Annan flamencosävytteistä maailmanmusiikkia esittelevää levyä voi kuunnella muun muassa Spotifyssa.

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Helsingin kaunista ruskaa

Sol y Sombra Blog viettää ensi viikolla syyslomaa ja palaa jälleen marraskuussa esittelemään matkavinkkejä, flamencoaiheita ja ruokaohjeita. Antoisaa lokakuun loppua kaikille lukijoille!

 

Summer in Spain equals Flamenco

This post will also be published in the Minna en el Mundo -section of this blog. 


Some might think that it is nearly insane to willingly travel to Spain at the hottest time of the year, but for me, the turn of July to August is the time of the best flamenco courses. For this reason, it is also the time to travel to Spain.

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Madrid is flamenco

Having missed maestra Rafaela Carrasco‘s courses at the XX Helsinki Flamenco Festival in February, I was enthralled to attend her summer courses in Centro de Baile Jerez at the beginning of August. And she was every bit as wonderful as I had heard. A true professional with a deep understanding of the tradition of flamenco, she was able to teach us a not only the technique of flamenco but also a fabulous tangos de malaga choreography in five days.  To describe her skill and warmth in words is difficult but to say that she is unique would perhaps do her the most justice. What a joy to learn from her, but also, what a joy to finally visit Jerez and to study in Centro de Baile Jerez, a school so well run by its owners.

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Centro de Baile in a residential area in Jerez de la Frontera

In Madrid I returned to the prestigious and legendary Amor de Dios flamenco academy to attend shortly the fifth edition of Veranos Flamencos de Amor de Dios directed by maestros María Juncal and Alfonso Losa who I have had the pleasure to study with before both in Helsinki and in Madrid. To study especially technique with María Juncal is always a revelation with her strong feet but also a very feminine body work which is a skill I increasingly notice I need. Alfonso Losa with his pedagogical skill is always a pleasure to study with and we will see him in Helsinki again soon. I was also fortunate to study these few days with maestra La Lupi whose emphasis on the feeling of flamenco and understanding of music made her solea de Cadíz even more inspiring to learn.

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Entry to Amor de Dios Flamenco Academy

Even though we are fortunate to study in Helsinki with fabulous teachers and to have frequent visits of Spanish maestros, I find it inspiring to study and see flamenco in its home country. To see and study flamenco in Spain is to see and study it in its own cultural context. Therefore it is also important for me to see tablao performances when in Spain. I am of course lucky enough to have as my traveling partner a husband who recognizes this need and is willing to assist. Therefore we saw flamenco both in Madrid in Tablao Las Carboneras and in Jerez de la Frontera in La Guarida del Angel.

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La Guarida del Angel in Jerez old town

Madrid has a vast array of renowned tablaos with talented performers frequenting them. Tablao Las Carboneras is one of them and we were lucky enough to see Nino de los Reyes – another flamenco star I have had the pleasure to learn from – performing with his wife Triana Maciel and other great performers such as Pino Losada in guitar. Although I was enthralled to see these great performers, I was especially touched by the spirit and the love between them. This is what is so essential to flamenco. Unfortunately we did not see this spirit in La Guarida del Angel. The performers were skilled technically but the love was not there. And when there is no love, there is no flamenco, just technical execution of music and dance. This was a great shame especially as La Guarida del Angel, an old synagogue, gave the evening such an amazing backdrop.

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Show in Las Carboneras with Pino Losada, Lucía de Miguel, Triana Maciel and others

 

For setting La Guarida del Angel had one over Las Carboneras, but if you wish to see flamenco with a feeling, I cannot recommend a visit, especially during the tourist season in August. The case may be different during flamenco festival season, I urge you to go and see. When it comes to tablaos in Madrid, Las Carboneras was artistically every bit as good as Casa Patas, which I have visited before on numerous occasions. However, if you wish to have dinner or enjoy a few drinks, I do recommend Casa Patas for its more economic prices and amazing food. Having said that, with either one, you cannot go wrong. The talent will be there which ever you choose.