Acatife – A Fine Act

From a stage in the town hall square in from of the Church of Nuestra del Carmen in Playa Blanca, with the streets and roundabout and main roads surrounded by Christmas lights and with a waning moon looking crestfallen in a starless sky we heard faint music. There shouldn’t be any music yet. The concert wasn’t due to start for another hour. We ran towards the square to find it empty but there they were, on stage, making beautiful sounds, vocally and musically, twenty five musicians. This, though, was only rehearsal and tuning-up time, even if the only clue to that fact was that the players were all still in their civvies, bundled up in their fleeces and scarves and caps.

Dee and I and our publicity-shy friends were able to take four of the empty chairs and sit and enjoy half an hour of wonderful music. As soon as all the instruments had adjusted to the weather conditions at this outdoor event and as soon as all the players were playing from the same music sheet they wandered off. As rehearsals go that had had been pretty damned well full-on,….or so we thought.

About thirty minutes later the ensemble walked out on to the stage to see all the seats now occupied, They were now dressed in all their finery and really looked the part. An all male group of grown men and young boys in crisp white shirts and dark trousers.

There were timplists and guitarists and sundry other stringed instruments and there were whistle blowers, tubular bells players and hand-clappers and castanet clickers.

The ensemble vocal sound, was quite incredible. At times a solo singer of quiet, intimate tomes would be subsumed in a sudden and amazing well of ensemble sound. It all put me in mind of Harry Secombe and Welsh male choirs.

The instrumentation too, could vary from intensely percussive to simple –string picked riffs. The songs were of Lanzaroteño and Canarian folk-lore celebrating the gifts of the land and the climate, and the fishing boats and the sea and the volcanoes. They were songs of perseverance and optimism: they were songs from the home and songs form the workplace, songs for the past and songs for the future.

We enjoyed a marvellous sixty minute performance delivered free to the public,…and we had even had the nerve to sit through free rehearsal too. I am very glad we did because it was incredible see and hear how this collection of players and singers could lift themselves from what could have easily been accepted as a peak performance to hit new peaks.

All those empty seats at rehearsal time were, of course, filled by the time the concert started. And beyond the fans in the square were the winers and diners in the roadside open air restaurants very clearly listening in to a concert taking place just across the road from them.

Acatife are a fine act !

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