Spanish Gypsy Flamenco performers connect to Rajasthani roots

New Delhi, Nov 20

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The Gypsy Flamenco performers of Spain, who left India, almost 1,000 years ago in search of new homes as nomadic travellers, will reconnect to their roots with music and dance — legacies that they carried with them from the country of their origin.  

An musical concert by Gypsy Flamenco musician Pepe Habichuela and his son JosemiCarmona in Delhi , hosted by the Ambassador of Spain, Gustavo de Aristegui and the former Maharaja of Jodhpur-Marwar, Gaj Singh II in Delhi has lifted the curtain on a unique ongoing cross cultural project between the roots musicians of Rajasthan and the Gypsy Flamenco performers. It will culminate into a festival at Jodhpur in Rajstahan from Dec 13-15. The festival will feature some of the most outstanding Rajasthani musicians and international performrs.

It is a joint initiative by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust of Jodhpur, Fundacion Cante de las Minas and the Embassy of Spain with the objective of preserving the musical heritage of the gypsies of Rajasthan and recoonecting to the traditions that grew from the distant travels of those tribes centuries ago. Rajasthan has been the origin of a rich musical tradition of the European gypsies, who migrated to Spain and other countries in Europe almost 1000 years ago. In that long migration, Rajasthani gypsy music incorporated many different influences, finally finding in the cultural melting pot that was medieval Spain the most fertile creative experimental ground with Islamic, Jewish and traditional Spanish folklores giving birth to the genre, flamenco—a raucous tradition of street music and dance of high energy.

Flamenco is the new cultural bridge between east and west, exploring its roots in a creative way to produce surprising results in its millenium old cradle- Rajasthan and India in general. Flamenco is rooted in the Islamic tradition of Kathak with intricate and complex footwork, historical records say. 

Pepe Habichuela is one of the greatest figures of the generation who revolutionized flamenco in the 1970s. Heir of the purest traditions of the flamenco from Granada through his father, he belongs to a gypsy family that has given many great names to music. He has performed with world musicians like Dave Holland, Stan Getz, Chick Corea and also Indian musicians such as Chandu and Bollywood Strings. That line continues through his son Josemi, one of the pioneers of flamenco fusion with his group Ketama.

He has followed the interest of his father in Indian music and decided to travel to India to play with Rajasthani musicians and research the influence of their music in the roots of flamenco. Josemi Carmona learnt to play and talk nearly at the same time, growing in a household where music was part of everyday life. He started playing on stage when he was nine. He has toured the United States with his father. Following the trail of opening flamenco to experimentation with other musical traditions such as jazz, salsa or rai, he was one of the founders of Ketama, a reference of the “new flamenco” style. After many years, the father and son decided to perform together with a project called “Habichuela en rama” , in a musical dialogue between generations, master and student, tradition, and innovation.

This performance will also feature musicians like Jose Luis Carmona and Benjamin Santiago as well as the dancer Antonia Heredia. This tour in India is a result of the collaboration initiated two years ago with Roberto Nieddu, who through his company CRN productions based in Jodhpur has supported a musical dialogue between flamenco and Rajasthani musicians. He is now involved in the project in collaboration with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, as director of the festival and the creation of a platform for gypsy music, as well as to open a centre dedicated to the study of the history of gypsies.

In May 2013, a MoU was signed between the Mayor of La Unión, also Chairman of the Fundación Cante de las Minas and the former Maharaja of Jodhpur as head of Mehrangarh Museum Trust to create a centre for the study of the musical heritage of Rajasthani gypsies and its connection with Flamenco. The creation of the Jodhpur Flamenco and Gypsy Festival will be one of the flagships of this project.

The father-son duo will perform in Mumbai at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum on Nov 22  and at the Huttesingh Haveli of Ahmedabad Nov 23.

Staff writer
artsinfocus.webs.com 

 

 

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