Episode 385 – Mérida Fest! (Part 3 of 3)

It’s almost over, and this week MéridaFest is winding down, with mostly theatrical and cinema events (all in Spanish, of course) so we’ll be attending fewer events and “winding down” a bit ourselves.

In the first two weeks of the festival we attended 14 events, 2 of which were double features billed as Noches de las Culturas (Nights of Cultures) and showcasing performers from other countries.

Sunday, January 22nd. Separate from MéridaFest, today we attended the first of a series of 7 concerts in the 39th season of the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra. The opening of each season typically features well-known upbeat classical pieces to excite the audience, and today was no exception. The program (below) was wonderful, and at the end we got a bonus: JohannStrauss I’s Radetzky March, with the audience participation clapping “conducted” by Maestro Lomónaco. Such fun!

From top: The Poet and Peasant Overture, Suite No.2 from Carmen, Voices of Spring, Tales from the Vienna Woods, and The Blue Danube. For people new to the classical concert format, there are “applause hints” in the program!

After supper, we walked to the Plaza Grande where a huge rock-concert-style stage had been set up for a performance by violinist Ara Malikian, a Lebanese-born violinist of Armenian descent. He was educated in Germany and is now based in Spain. He joked that as of today he was considering himself an immigrant to Mérida.

What he is, is a complete wild man on violin!

It was really, really hard to believe he’s 54 years old when watching him dance, jump, and leap into the air while playing.

The “intro” is over 3 minutes of the 8 minute concerto!

Tuesday, January 24th. Tonight was a special trova night at the Olimpo: the 3rd edition of the Interpretive Quality Award for Trio Format and 3rd edition of the Trova Yucatecan Composition Contest. It was a short program, beginning with presentations of the award certificates, followed by the first and second place winners in each category (plus the winner of best “youth”/new – under 40 – trova band) each performing a number.

Trio Ensueño, winners of second place in the traditional trova trio category. Ted and I really enjoyed their harmonies.
Trio Andante, first prize winners in the traditional trova trio category. Notice the HUGE acoustic bass guitar on the left; it was the size of a cello!
Top: winner of first place in the category of traditional trova competition. Bottom: the young man in the centre was winner of first prize in contemporary trova composition; his group performed his winning song.

For the next couple of nights there are no music events at all, but two of the events listed (neither of which we attended, opting instead just to take a couple of evening strolls) helped us choose NEXT week’s focus: visual arts and museums!

Wednesday, January 25th. The grand opening of the exhibition “Matisse: Art in Balance” in the galleries of the Olimpo Cultural Centre., The exhibition of 114 works was curated to highlight Matisse’s mastery in portraits, created with his characteristic simplicity of strokes.

Thursday January 26th. Another art exhibition opening night, this time at the Museum of the City of Mérida. The exhibition, entitled “Without Palms or Veils” presents a review of the work produced by Mexican artists Óscar Ortiz Otero and Gildo González Angulo, in a collaboration spanning the years from 1980 to the present.

Also, it rained for 3 days straight, which is somewhat unusual given that we’re well out of the rainy season. But… our part of the Yucatan has been hit by a “severe cold front” which has brought the daily highs down to 24°C/75°F. For Mérida natives that is considered “freezing”. We Canadians just shrug and keep fanning ourselves.

My trusty “travel fan”, mostly used on airplanes, has come in really handy.

Saturday, January 28th. We took in our final festival performance tonight at the Olimpo: La Sensational Orquesta Lavadero, a wonderful and hilarious musical quintet who perform classics and jazz on a unique selection of instruments: guitar, ukulele, accordion, washboard, harmonica, spoons, and comb and paper! Of course, there were vocals too. Their antics were hilarious, and the music was great.

It was easy to predict who the clown was in the group (much to the delight of the children in the audience), but each member took their turn in the silliness spotlight.
The reaction harmonica-prepping tongue-stretching antics got from his fellow musicians….
The sultry vocalist wasn’t above some antics of her own.

I particularly enjoyed Duke Ellington’s Black and Tan Fantasy played using a comb for the trumpet parts (which actually worked!), and Stormy Weather which involved a rather stormily-sloshing brandy snifter of water.

But my ABSOLUTE favourite was their version of Ravel’s Bolero. Here’s a snippet Ted videoed:

Tomorrow is the second concert in the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra’s winter program – so while Méridafest may have come to an end, our Mexican musical journey continues.

It’s been a terrific month of entertainment, well beyond what we expected when we planned our winter here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s