Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Regalos del cielo/ Gifts from heaven

El otro día caminaba triste hacia mi carro y comencé a pensar en Dios, como siempre hago cuando me comienzo a preocupar demasiado por la gente. En silencio murmuré las palabras de Santa Teresa de Jesús (1515-1582)"La paciencia todo lo alcanza. Quien a Dios tiene nada le falta, sólo Dios basta". Entonces llegué a mi carro y noté que una flor blanca había caído sobre el cristal delantero y la ví como un regalo del cielo, una respuesta de Dios a mi llamado de que se manifestase en mi vida. Me pregunté cuántas veces el cielo nos hace regalos y nosotros no los vemos, o no los interpretamos como tal.

The other day I was walking to my car and started thinking about God, like I always do when I worry too much about people. In silence I murmured to myself Saint Teresa de Jesus' words "Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing; God never changes.Patience obtains all things.He who possesses God lacks nothing: God alone suffices". Then I got to my car and noticed a white flower on my front window and I looked at it as a gift from heaven, an answer from God to my calling. I then wondered upon the many times that the heavens send us gifts that we don't see, or care to interpret them as such.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cuban Painters and Trovadores XX and XXI

Before you read this your must know that:

A sonero is a person that sings a Cuban, musical genre known as son. Son is a style of popular dance music that originated in the Oriente province of Cuba. It is also the foundation of modern salsa. There are several hybrids of Son, including Son-montuno, Afro-son and Guajira-son.
A trovador/troubadour is a person that plays guitar and sings.

According to Dr. Cristobal Diaz Ayala in his book, Musica cubana del areyto a la nueva trova, there were trovadores in Cuba since the 19th century. This was a phenomeno in the countryside of the island, not the capital.

The Great Trovadores who moved to Havana were:

Sindo Garay
Manuel Corona
Alberto Villallon
Rosendo Ruiz

Miguel Matamoros

They were from Santiago de Cuba, what I would like to call the cradle of Trova.

Ayala speaks in his book that la trova reborns in a cafe called La casa de la Trova, where old trovadores met in Santiago de Cuba in 1966. From there other places of the island like Camaguey, Las Tunas, Pinar del Rio and la Habana will begin hearing this music. Ayala explains how these singers or trovadores did not record the songs they sang in their respective towns' parks, but accomplished their objective; they revived the notes that will be used by the musical movement that came afterwards: La Nueva Trova.

In the year 1967, the Casa de las Americas, with the intervention of Latin American singers, realized the first festival of la cancion Protesta, or as translated to the English language, the Social and political songs. Young individuals such as Pablo Milanes, Silvio Rodriguez, Vicente Feliu, Noel Nicola, and Leo Broward, who is a famous orchestra director and was once a great guitarist, until suffering an accident that damaged his right hand. Leo Broward is definetely not an artist who protests, or manifests disagreement with the current government. Broward, Rodriguez, Milanes, among others, live like kings in their impoverished island, stayed close friends of Fidel, and do not cause any political disturbs, neverthless, conflicts.

Going back to the musical history and leaving aside the political situation, it could be said that they all created the Movement of the New Trova or the MNT, regardless of their political idealogies...

Along with them was:

Pedro Luis Ferrer

Pedro was the greatest and most exciting discovery I made in this research. It surprised me to learn that he, along the ones mentioned above, started the movement known as the New Trova and he currently sings against the Cuban regime.

He is around his fifties and well capable of telling a funny joke like Alvarez Guedes. His jokes criticize Fidel and speak of the ironies and miseries of the current, Cuban situation. He is widely known for telling jokes at his concerts.

For instance, he'll be playing his guitar and singing one of his moving songs, but right afterwards, he would take a break to recite a poem and then, go back to singing.

Most likely, after he goes back to singing, he'll stop again to tell you another joke against the government.

Fernando Godo, a friend of mine that came from Cuba three months ago and actually knew this person, told me that Ferrer says he doesn't want to leave Cuba and won't go into exile. Although, the government has arrested him several times. Ferrer always says that Fidel is the one who needs to leave, not him.

There are other trobadores like Frank Delgado, Santiago Feliu (he is called the young people trovador. People who are now in their twenties and thirties love him) and Carlos Varela....

Carlos Varela

released an album titled Como los peces, which translates as: Like the Fishes. This album is full metaphors against the system Fidel Castro maintains in the island. Carlos Varela, in that sense, did something against the revolution, but....

Pedro Luis Ferrer definitely stands openly against the government and says in public (highly unseen and unaccepted in Cuba) what he thinks and believes. Ferrer is passionate about his political stand; he doesn't change sides easily. A person who stands his ground like him, even under threat, like he is, should be admired and he is. Young people are listening to his songs and him. People like him, truly and deeply believe in what they stand for, and just don't do nothing about it.

What is happening right now in Cuba? What's occurring with trova? What's the new music and who are its new voices?

Varela and Ferrer are fighting the oppression through their music. Ferrer is definetely more openned about it that the first one, but they both have voiced their discomfort.

And young trovadores are meeting in a place called La Casona in 11 and E, very close to El Malecon and La Casa de las Americas. A person from La Habana would know exactly where that is and how to get there. And if anyone goes with this address, you could also find this house and hear their music.

Among the young, Cuban trovadores who meet in this small building to sing and play their guitars are: Fernando Becquer, Samuel Aguila, Silvio Alejandro, Inti Santana, and others....

There is also band called Habana Abierta. If you were to sit down and talk to them one on one they would tell you they are against the current Cuban government, but they don't mention their political stand in their songs. Elvis Ochoa writes the group's songs. They are popular in Spain and travel there for concerts every so often. And this is their picture:

At the beginning of the XX century, an amazing painter named Romanach captured the death of Antonio Maceo, one of Cuba's martyrs from the Independence War. Romanach also portrayed the beaches from his native Caibarien, as seen in the painting below, which he titled Marina:

Carlos Enrique painted the piece titled El rapto de las mulatas (at the right), which translates as The Rape of the Black Women.
Amelia Pelaes along other Cuban painters, such as Victor Manuel, Fidelio Ponce, Wifredo Lam, Carlos Enríquez, Marcelo Pogolotti, Jorge Arche, Domindo Ravenet, Antonio Gattorno and Eduardo Abela are studied as part of the Cuban painting period named, Vanguardism and Post-Vanguardism that dated from 1927 to 1980.
Cubans call beautiful women "monstruo", or as the English translation has it, "monster". When people are really great at doing something, they also call them monsters. Wilfredo Lam is considered a monster of a painter. He is one of most populat contemporary painters, if not the most widely known.
There also came a so called 40 Generation, with painters such as: Mariano Rodríguez, René Portocarrero, Mirta Cerra, Roberto Diago, José Mijares, Mario Carreño, Raúl Martínez, Angel Acosta León, Luis Martínez Pedro, Antonia Eiriz, Servando Cabrera Moreno, Orlando Llanez, Cundo Bermúdez, María Capdevilla, Enrique Caravia, Estebán Domenech, Armando Maribona, Domingo Ramos, Antonio Rodríguez Morey, Daniel Serra Badue, Gerardo Tejedor, Estebán Valderrama, Roberto Vázquez and Federico Villalba.

José Mijares (1921-)
"To speak of Mijares is to speak of a painter who is intrinsically modern, loyal to the time in which he was born, and one of the most outstanding figures in contemporary art... He was winner of the first prize of Cuban national Painting at just 29 years old... Apart from the formal stylistic concept which is valuable for conceiving his works, these paintings put us before a world recognizable yet distant from the objects that make up our surroundings; everything is transformed by this dreammaker...
To place him in a stylistic movement is not easy; we could say that in many of his paintings there are surrealist elements. Automatism and absolute irrationality are present in the themes... however, this is insufficient to place him in the surrealist movement... more interesting is the study of the cubist element in his creations. We observe a careful balance in the misture of the forms that make up the paintings...
Mijares can also be spoken of as a notable member of the third generation of modern painters from the Havana School. He contributed to this school by giving cohesion and continuity to a style very much his own that had been forming since the previous decade but not until the end of the 1920s did this begin to manifest itself through a small group of artists that made up the vanguard of Cuban modern art. They paved the way to auniquely national art, capable of expressing the particular way of feeling and understanding Cuban reality. The styles themselves were not uniquely Cuban, it was more the way in which they dealt with the different themes that made them national."
(From the book: José Mijares Paintings Pinturas)
Tomás Sánchez (1948-Present)
"In the 1970, an expressionist Tomás, who, without planning to reminds us of Ensor and Munch, whom he did not know of then... Similar to Munch, his work revolves around the human drama of man and his existential angst
Roberto Fabelo and Manuel Mendibe are two Cuban painters, who currently live in Cuba. The renowned trovador, Silvio Rodriguez, wrote a song to Roberto Fabelo..

Your question is best answered in the paper by Rina BenMayor called"La Nueva Trova: new Cuban Song", which was published in the Latin American Music Review published from Austin, Texas, Volume 2, Issue 1, in 1981.
I read it last year in our university library. I strongly recommend it if you are interested in Nueva Trova. For a short description of what the innovation of nueva trovaconsisted of, I would let Silvio Rodriguez speak for himself.I quote him:

"I started off as a young man who liked music, took up the guitar and started to play. Like other young people, I used to dislike the traditional Cuban music played on the radio. However, I liked the traditional songs of the trova I heard my mother sing.
"At the time, people used to think troubadours were old men who sang out of rune with raucous voices. There was no intention of spreading or recovering our musical history. "When I started to sing, someone From TV told me, "If you didn't sing those strange songs, you'd become a star overniglht. Many people describe me as "a poet who sings." I don't think of myself as a poet, but as an author of songs. I've tried to write poems, but have never succeeded. I've experimented in order to determine how much you can get out of a man with a guitar. Song is a hybrid which produces a mulatto product -- music and poetry. That is, song is a mestizo product, just like cinema, because it's a mixture of more than one artistic form. "I think than today's dance music has been influenced 13Y the Nueva Trova. When we began, people didn't like the traditional Cuban music inherited from our parents and grandparents. The Nueva Trova helped renew our tradition. "The Nueva Trova was influenced young composers of dance music. They've recognized that it has also introduced new options and a new perspective. Juan Formell of Los Van Van understood this. Formell's compositions also helped young people appreciate Orquesta Aragon's mutsic and other orchestras which were not as modern as his. "We all knew that the term Nueva Trova would eventually become too narrow. The Nueva Trova and its troubadours are not so new any more. We knew that time would do away with this term. But we needed a term when we began to organize. Every time you classify and label, a tomb is dug. Nonetheless, the Nueva Trova brought new truths to light and contributed to the development of the Cuban Trova song."

-- Silvio Rodriguez, interviewed in March 1980.

So, to answer your question succintly, Mike, in my mind the two great innovations of Nueva Trova were: (1) the harmonious marriagebetween poetry and music, and the consequent envisioning of theartist not just as _cantor_ or _autor_ but as _cantautor_ -- bothpoet and singer ; and (2) recuperation and renewal of the traditionof the Old Trova.

Sayan Bhattacharyya

I recommend you to visit these websites if you want to learn more about trovadores:






More websites on painters: