All posts by Alvaro Feito

Glamorous recital from Canadian Singer and Harper Loreena McKennitt in San Sebastian

The “Lost Souls Tour”, an extensive tour of Europe, also ended up in Spain (Valencia, Murcia, Granada, Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, and finally in San Sebastian). And, after Thessaloniki, Athens, Izmir, Ankara, Istanbul, Abenberg, Munich, Berlin, Freiburg, Mainz, Florence, Milan, Udine, Macerata, Rome, Molfettá, Cervere and Lyon, Canada’s Loreena Mckennitt will have completed one of her more clamorous and also “glamorous” European tours. Elegance is not only in fashion shows, but also in some theatrical scenes, such as the Victoria Eugenia venue.

Loreena has nearly forty years of professional activity, and it seems as if time had not passed through her, especially her music. And the voice, that incredible voice, is, next to her inseparable Celtic harp, hallmark of one of the most personal and unmistakable artists of the broad contemporary musical spectrum.

She doesn’t know about labels or upstart commitments: she started, and continues to do so, from an unequivocal musical and literary tradition anchored in Ireland and Shakespeare in equal parts, but she has managed to expand her borders until she reaches the sensual East, the torrid Morocco, the canonical Hellenic civilizations, and has even set its sights on the Spanish mysticism of the literary Golden Age and has sung to the asceticism taken from San Juan de la Cruz, just to mention a few ports in which she has landed.

Loreena McKennitt – Photo by Richard Haughton

Her current tour, based on the themes of her latest published CD, “Lost Souls“, is protected and supported by the rocking chair of a phenomenal instrumental quintet: Brian Hughes (guitars, bouzouki), Caroline Lavelle (cello, recorder, vocals), Dudley Phillips (electric bass), Robert Brian (drums, percussion) and the sensational violinist Hugh Mash, true virtuoso, builder and vehicle of the loudness displayed by the ensemble.

Loreena, on the other hand, launched, more than ever, her arsenal of exhibits and possibilities: not only the well-known and already cited harp (less used than in the past), but also, the very “folkie” accordion, the gliding synthesizers and, the wonder, her latest “discovery”, the piano, not so much with classical connotations as close to jazz “pathos”. Thus, the creator of “Santiago” and “Bonny Portmore” has approached an increasingly globalizing and, in any case, always creative sound.

Cast aside this time, some sounds frequently used in other times not too far away: the medieval hurdy gurdy and those deeply rooted in Celtic culture, the “uileann pipes”. Particularly, I miss those telluric gadgets, always supplanted in modernity by the versatile keyboards. Yes, a shame.

But, despite that, the provision of Loreena McKennitt live always elevates you near the seventh heaven. Prodigy of diction, elegance, lyrical intensity, expressive emotion, the voice and music of the incomparable artist (because there is no other that does what she does, although outstanding and personal approaches have emerged: in some passages, the Gaelic Enya In others, the Guipuzcoan Olatz Zugasti) is one of the most rewarding experiences that the ear, so often punished, can perceive of the listener conducive to receiving flashes of beauty without a story.

The repertoire did not miss the opportunity to approach some of her “great hits.” “Lady of Shalott”, based on a poem by Lord Tennyson, with its more than ten minutes of brilliant poetic display, was, without a doubt, a high point in the recital. Her Arabic, turquoise and Mediterranean melodies also made an appropriate act of presence. Gaelic references and Marrakesh-ish were not lacking, nor was the (and above all) the captivating, almost dreamlike, always bucolic world of Irish legends and essences. W.B. Yeats did not walk very far, but now the singer is very determined to recreate her own literary world, with songs from her harvest.

Musically, the proposal balanced between the admirable, renovated “folk” of the 21st century, and winks to almost hard rock and jazz, not improvised but very measured instrumental moment. Above all and all, a sublime voice, between soprano and the sharp outbursts of a texture unattainable by other vocalists. Only Joan Baez would be up to it in this regard. Or Nina Simone.

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The Lorient Festival Dedicates the 2019 Edition to the Music of Galicia

The new edition of the prestigious and established Lorient Inter-Celtic Festival (Brittany, France), directed since nearly a decade ago by journalist, cultural activist and producer Lisardo Lombardia (Asturias, Spain), will present a very attractive program, with special dedication to the music from Galicia (Spain), this year’s guest country. The festival takes place August 2-11 in Brittany.

Carlos Núñez

The extensive Galician representation will be led, of course, by Galician piper and flute player Carlos Núñez, a real popular legend not only for the Breton public, but throughout France, where his albums sell very well and where he’s a really popular person at all levels. The disciple of Paddy Moloney and the legendary Irish group, The Chieftains, has reached an enviable maturity, enthralling with his attractive visual and sound show to all possible audiences.

Milladoiro, on the other hand, is the most respected and prestigious band in the rich and varied panorama of the traditional sound of Galicia, a pantheon that also includes acts such as Luar Na Lubre, Cristina Pato, Susana Seivane, Múxicas, and a long etcetera. Milladoiro, with a resume of more than 20 albums and several soundtracks under their belt, is undoubtedly an example of quality, perseverance and loyalty to roots.

The new talent will be represented by Mercedes Peón, anthropologist, field researcher, composer, arranger and singer, with a stage show as current as groundbreaking, not far from the deliveries of Iceland’s Bjorg or Ireland’s Sinead O’Connor. A concert by Mercedes Peón never leaves anyone indifferent.

Aside from the “Galicia Special” of the FIL19 (Lorient Interceltic Festival), the programming of its ten variegated days also includes the performance of Balkan artist Goran Bregovic, who will be accompanied on such a sole occasion by none other than the Symphony Orchestra of Brittany.

In addition, veteran French folk rock band Soldat Louis, much loved among their countrymen, and Bagad Kemper Bagpipe and Percussion Band, representative of the hundreds of similar groups that swarm their country will be another point of interest. As well as the appearance of another veteran Hungarian group, Skolvan, of which we had no news for many years.

Fest noz at Lorient Inter-Celtic Festival

The Great Parade of the Celtic Countries, which gathers more than a hundred thousand people, between participants and spectators and is broadcast on television throughout the Hexagon [France], and the beloved daily sessions of dance and live music of the nightly “fest noz” are other inducements of this great event, that no good fan of the sounds and spirits of universal pan-Celtic music should miss in person at least once in a lifetime.

More at www.festival-interceltique.bzh

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