Flamenco Festival New York 2016
Flamenco Festival New York 2016 Launches March 2nd with Concerts and Events Citywide
Festival’s 13th Season Is a Celebration of Flamenco as a Global Language
Biggest, Most Ambitious Program in Festival’s History Features One-Of-A-Kind Collaborations
in Folk, Jazz, Classical and World Music
New Explorations As Flamenco Takes on the Accents of Iran, the Middle East, Cuba and More
The Flamenco Festival New York, the most important event of its kind outside Spain, has been an invitation into the history and evolution of flamenco.
This year, in the biggest program in the festival’s history, the performances and collaborations speak of flamenco becoming a global language.
The program of this 13th edition includes presentations by Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía, and the great Farruquito — but also the iconoclastic Rocío Molina and the New York debut of Manuel Liñán. Featured are Vicente Amigo, a master of flamenco guitar, but also musical collaborations such as Jackson Browne with Raúl Rodríguez, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, led by Principal Conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, with Andalusian singer Marina Heredia, Esperanza Fernández with Cuban jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and Rosario Guerrero "La Tremendita" with singer Mohammad Motamedi, a rising star in Iranian vocal music.
"In this edition of the Festival we are witnessing, for the first time, not only the evolution of flamenco in the work of its artists, but also the deep involvement of artists who do not come from the flamenco tradition," says Miguel Marín, founder and director of Flamenco Festival New York. "From its very origins, flamenco has been the product of a mix of cultures and traditions, so what flamenco artists are doing is something natural. But what we also see now is how flamenco continues to inspire artists such as Jackson Browne, or Mohammad Motamedi and I believe it's because they find in flamenco great emotional intensity and a wide range of possibilities for expression."
Singer and songwriter Jackson Browne has been a serious fan of flamenco for more than 20 years.
"When I first started spending time in Barcelona, a friend of mine gave me a cassette of the singer Enrique Morente with [guitarist] Sabicas, and it was unbelievable," he recalled. "I really didn't understand much, but it was so compelling. I'm interested in language and songs, and here I was, something was being communicated to me even though I really didn´t know what the words were saying. I've always found flamenco really moving."
As for the collaborations, they often represent a natural, logical exploration of the roots of flamenco, an art form that emerged in the 19th century as the expression of a poor, disenfranchised community in Andalusia, in the South of Spain, shaped by Gypsy, Arabic, Indian, Jewish and African influences.
"I like to think of my work as a process of going backwards towards the future," says Raul Rodríguez, whose explorations led in him to devise what he calls a tres flamenco, an innovative six string acoustic instrument that draws from the Cuban tres and the flamenco guitar that often evokes the sound of the ancient Arab oud. "What we call tradition today is the sum of things that were once someone's creation and they probably were seen at the time as dangerous We are neither moving forward blindly nor going back with such reverence that we can't do anything different."
Collaborations, Marín notes, "have been a trademark of the Festival."
"We see the Festival as meeting place, not just for American audiences and Spanish culture but for artists of different genres and traditions," he says. "It´s in our mission to promote and showcase the understanding between cultures — especially in this moment of so much turmoil and despair."
Artists such as Farruquito — heir of the great dancer El Farruco, his grandfather — brings flamenco back to its beginnings in his show "Improvisao," (Improvised) which he largely creates on the spot.
"To my mind, the origin of flamenco is improvisation," he said. "Flamenco was born in home gatherings. Flamenco did not start in an academy or in a school setting."
Meanwhile, dancer and choreographer Rafaela Carrasco, director of the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía, will offer an updated retrospective of 20 years of the company. The changes in flamenco are not so much the result of fusion, but natural evolution.
"What happens is that the flamenco of today can never be the flamenco of 40, 50 years ago. " says Carrasco. "And as something that continues to evolve, flamenco continues to incorporate vocabulary from other languages, other traditions."
Being able to offer such broad artistic range in the festival’s programming also speaks to a greater understanding and evolving expectations of the audiences, according to Marín.
"Early on, the audiences perhaps expected a certain flamenco, the one they learned about from certain images, the flamenco of the red polka-dot dress," he notes. "This is flamenco today: multicultural, open to collaborations and with much more varied offerings, and this is reflected not only in the program, but in the venues of this Festival."
In recent editions, the Festival has set aside a section of the programming entitled Beyond Flamenco to showcase emerging artists who "while they have a connection with flamenco, are not within the flamenco canon but have strong work and reach a different audience," explains Marín.
This year, the Beyond Flamenco series offers striking debuts: “free song” exponent Rocío Márquez with guitarist Miguel Angel Cortés; La Banda Morisca, which combines traditional flamenco with Arab-Andalusian music and jazz; Israeli bassist Adam Ben Ezra with Spanish guitarist Daniel Casares; the Bojaira Band, a flamenco fusion group; the wildly inventive Armenian violinist Ara Malikian; and two intimate dance programs: Nélida Tirado, blending flamenco and Latin dance and Madrid’s rising star Nino de los Reyes, who mixes flamenco, jazz and modern dance.
As for the variety of venues presenting Festival and festival-related events, there are shows scheduled at New York City Center, Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), The Town Hall, but also a series of performances at intimate spaces such as Joe's Pub, Roulette, and Le Poisson Rouge. And the Festival includes free conferences and talks at the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU and at CUNY Graduate Center. For those who want an immersion in flamenco culture, there are pre-concert classes and talks for ticket-holders at New York City Center and opportunities to learn from masters such as Farruquito, Gema Moneo, Manuel Liñán and Rafaela Carrasco in workshops at the Creative Cultural Center St. Veronica.
"The Festival used to be more monochromatic," says Marín. "But, like flamenco, it has evolved, and now it has a much richer palette. It couldn't be any other way. We are a showcase for, and a reflection of, these artists working in flamenco, their motivations and their evolution."
CHECK THE FULL PROGRAM HERE
** CANCELED: BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) – Howard Gilman Opera House
March 2 thru 5 7:30pm Israel Galván & Akram Khan: Torobaka
Due to unforeseen circumstances, all performances of Torobaka have been canceled.