This past Tuesday, my friend and I had the pleasure to attend the The Andalusian Trail: The Roots of Flamenco. The 15th Annual Chicago Flamenco Festival Kickoff concert at City Winery – another beautiful addition to Chicago’s historical Fulton Market neighborhood. The concert gave attendees a pre-glimpse into the Chicago Flamenco Festival 2017 launching tonight until March 25th. I highly recommend catching some of the performances.
As we entered the main entrance of the venue, we walked onto rustic hardwood floors surrounded by exposed bricks that span across the walls, wooden wine barrels stacked in wine cellars quietly aging some of the finest wines served at City Winery, all leading up into the main venue in time for the concert. The darkness of the room was illuminated by dim lights and candles mounted on every single dining table, adding a cozy but sultry ambiance. A perfect pairing for the sultriness of the Flamenco style dancing we were anxious to behold. While we were lead to our seats, we were offered a sample of City Winery’s newest edition to their list of delicious wines, The 3 Amigos. Being an avid lover of wine, reds in particular, this was an offer I couldn’t resist. At that moment in time, I knew it would be the start to an amazing night.
Presented by Instituto Cervantes of Chicago (a non-profit institution founded by Spain in 1991 to teach and promote the language and culture of Spain and other hispanic speaking countries), with Las Guitarras de España and Intercultural Music Production featured an international fusion of influences from ensemble Surabhi tracing Flamenco’s Andalusia (South of Spain) roots and heavy Indian, Arabic and African traditions. The performance consisted of original and traditional renditions featuring the Spanish guitar, Arabo-Andalusian poetry, music by Ronnie Malley on oud accompanied by gorgeous harmonies, Rajasthani folk dance by Kinnari Vora, Flamenco and Middle Eastern dance performed by Marisela Tapia.
The entire musical production including additional performers Saraswathi Ranganathan (Surabhi founder/veena), Carlo Basile (Las Guitarras de España founder/guitar), Dhananjay Kunte (tabla), Diego Alonso (guitar), Greg Nergaard (bass) and Bob Garrett (percussion) brought the stage to life and instantly transported me and the rest of the audience across Spain, Africa, the Middle East, India and other countries that had a strong influence on Flamenco style dancing. Each performance told its own individual stories of its rich history deeply rooted within their culture. I was no longer in Chicago, but on the opposite end of the earth embodying a new culture and a deeper appreciation for Flamenco.