Moving On From The Been And Gone

I am writing this post on Christmas Day 2022, as our closing article of the year for Lanzarote Information-what’s on Lanzarote about the island´s arts scene of 2022.

Over the last twelve months we have brought you news, previews, interviews and reviews gathered as we have wandered the sidetracks & detours (& Secret Places) of Lanzarote, searching for what’s been did and what’s been hid, (sorry, a Donovan-ism) among the arts.

We have reviewed contemporary dance performance such as Skin To Skin, which looked at how we convey our emotions and we also looked at the flamenco tradition.

We have reported on the site of the grave of Cesart Manrique and other ´Secret Places´ of photographic locations on the island that provided artist Adriyana Hodge with sites for her remarkable photographs included in her major exhibition of the year. Just as fascinating in their own very different way were the photographs of art capturing science in the photographic exhibition ConSiences by Jacques Honvault.

We took a guided tour of the underground theatre at Jameos Del Ague and told you of what we learned and even introduced readers to my own personal muse Lara, in that weird way that poets do.

We also reported on our good friend Larry Yaskiel, editor of the quarterly glossy magazine Lancelot and told you, in an article we were especially proud to carry, of him being awarded a well-deserved MBE

We not only reported on hearing the readings of some of the island´s best poets in a literary event but we also took part, and then reported on, the inaugural Lanzarote Poetry Festival. We even posted an exclusive in-depth interview with its organiser, Mercedes Minguele. We also delivered an exclusive interview with Claudie, a remarkably eclectic artist, based in Orzola. We visited not only her exhibition in Ermita on Marina Rubicon in Playa Blanca, but also her home studio and the V Fashion Christmas Market in Teguise. We now have several pieces of her exquisite works in our home / office.

English readers of Lanzarote Information might recall that we looked at the sad death of Queen Elizabeth11 and the impact that might have on the arts scene not in the UK but also here on Lanzarote and, indeed, the rest of the world.

In fact, as I look back through my notes, I am reminded that we have covered everything from a night at the ballet to a day on the bus to the belenes !

As always, we have covered live music events.

The timple being such a staple part of the musical diet here on the island we have, of course delivered a number of articles about the music and players of that instrument. This year has followed a continuing commitment to Canarian music and popular culture, updating the evolution of the Timple, Lanzarote´s most emblematic instrument.

Tradition and contemporaneity once again strolled hand in hand with the timple as a vehicle; a direct witness to the transit of our roots in these first years of the new millennium.  The best examples of this were songs, carefully chosen, and arranged for the occasion by Manuel Bonino, Carlos Vega, Yul Ballesteros and José Brito at a concert in Jameos del Agua.

At the beginning of the year we saw the concerts of The Government of the Canary Islands presentation in the 38th Canary Islands Music Festival, in January of 2022, and we can assure you that in the first of month of 2023 we will deliver, to Lanzarote, our reviews, for consideration, of the six concerts that comprise the 39th edition of this prestigious world-class Festival.

We will be hearing the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, The Casals Quartet, The Gabrieli Consort and Players, Consannces, EL Afecto Illustrado and a concert called Bewilderment.

Watch this space for reviews over the coming month or so.

Meanwhile, it would be remiss of us not to mention a couple of quite amazing musical performances we have seen over here on Lanzarote over the Christmas period and what is coming up for us in the New Year.

In the seven years we have lived here we have noticed, that on this island so very similar in size to our home town of Rochdale, in the UK where we previously lived for sixty years, that small community events sit side by side on the calendar with much larger ´occasions´ involving more well-known performers, and that each ion their own way present some wonderful surprises.

Thus it was that on the 22nd December, in the tiny, but impressive Casa De La Cultura Benita Perez Armas in Yaize, twenty five musicians, including students from the age of ten to sixteen, some intermediary players, maybe in their later teens, and a handful of musical teachers and mentors, and one man in particular, full of pastoral care and empathy for his students, who also served a guitarist, vocalist and musical director. This ensemble, crammed on to the stage, was the orchestra of the Escuela Municipal, named Folklore de la Parranda Janubio, giving us Christmas presents of much loved seasonal and island and local songs delivered on a collection of stringed instruments including guitar, double bass, and mandolin with several individual vocal performances, including lively renditions of Feliz Navidad and Navidad Blanco (White Christmas).

The audience was comprised of family and friends of the performers and the infiltration of we four ´new´ residents on the island as we and our friends who can be named in code only as DCI and The Commander took places on the front row. Entrance was free of charge, and there was a definite ´school open night´ atmosphere to the whole event, with positive, supportive vibes coming from the audience. The playing of the orchestra was of a much higher level, though, and from our proximity to the stage we could identify youngsters who played diligently and thoughtfully and others who delivered with a (probably faux) casual manner. A young girl in a Santa hat and a friend on either side of her clicked their fingers and sang and swayed like The Three Degrees in their prime. One young lad laid so far back in his chair and played the timple as if he were a busker on the beach or Bob Marley in a hammock, and also gave us a superb vocal number.

Three very young sisters of some in the ensemble sat on the floor at our feet on the front row and gazed adoringly at their older siblings for a minute or so before settling down to simply listening while crayoning in colouring books.

The applause at the end from proud family and friends was long sustained and it was delightful to see younger musicians rushing to their parents with wide smiles of achievement (and almost certainly of relief) and one young girl from the musicians who took long and sweeping bows from the stage and applauded the audience in mock-diva fashion.

A refreshment bar had been erected for the families and we slipped in their afterwards too, and took a table at which we enjoyed two beers, and two wines each as we and DCI and The Commander chatted about arts gone by and new arts to come and wondered at how these events are always seemingly so poorly publicised yet invariably so well attended. We also wondered who meets the cost of these free admission events,….., given that the audiences don´t !

There was another free event a couple of nights later when our friends travelled down and we drove up to the beautiful village (town, over here) of Uga, just off the LZ 2 opposite the smoked salmon factory.

This was a much grander occasion, with lots of show-biz razz a mattaz and all that jazz as the dozen or so musicians who comprise Las Cantadores took the night of 23rd December by storm.

This was a fully professional evening, reminiscent of what I think of as Las Vegas shows: four or five great vocalists, delivering solos and chorus with great gusto and panache, cabaret styled routines, half a dozen superb musicians, fantastic cinematic back-drop to every number, intriguing light show flashed across the tent walls and roof of the carpe (tent) that housed (in my estimation) between four and five hundred people, and frequent spectacular pyrotechnics on stage.

It was billed as being a presentation of ´songs from the cinema and it was delivered in glitzy, ritzy style. by a group that works widely around The Canary Islands, There were times when the band looked like one of those larger Motown congregations of say Smokey (Robinson) and the Miracles, or even The Temptations. In other songs there was definite air of the Rat Pack era, with jokes and banter between the artists. The music was loud and punchy for most of the evening, and yet appropriately soft and sympathetic on the ballads.

The female vocalist danced and cavorted with her male singing companions and tenderly delivered on some lovely slower songs.

As I’d parked the car an hour and half earlier, (only twenty yards away, adjacent to the tent) I hadn’t expected to find myself jumping around like a loon to I Wanna Be Like You-hoo-hoo from The Jungle Book and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would join in a race to deliver the fastest version ever of Supercalli ..wotsit from Mary… oozit.

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When this superb show was over we queued with scores of others at the exit (tent flap!) to buy a cd entitled Los Grand Exitos de los Clasicos Cuentos by Los Cantdores that included many of the songs we had heard live tonight, including Haruna Matata from The Lion King, which had, for me, been the highlight on a night of many highlights.

Although it was nearly midnight we found a little but very busy bar just around the corner, where four drinks and two trays of chips went down a treat between the four of us, as we dined al fresco on a starry, starry night.

Our meal was not, perhaps, not a biblically or religiously traditional meal for this closeness to Christmas but chatted again about how such huge productions are delivered at no cost to the audience. This would have been afifty pounds a head event in the UK when we lived there, and that was seven years ago. I suspect that this group are retained in some way by The Canary Island governments to provide entertainment, delivering modernity for the youngsters and tradition for the more mature audiences, with an eye on mixing tourists and locals.

We arranged an e mail interview as we left, and so hope to find some clarity. Watch this space, to find more about the excellent band that is Los Cantadores.