España la Primavera 2012

I just returned from the better part of a month in Spain:  Madrid, Cordoba, Jerez and Tetuann (Morocco).  As always, a wonderful time and packed with adventures.  I thought I’d blog about the musical highlights.

Semana Santa:  Holy Week for a non-religious person as myself means:  escape to Morocco and I did.  I renewed my love affair with Tetuan after nearly 40 years absence.  However, both on the front end and back end of Tetuan we caught Semana Santa.  This year, we heard 4 consecutive Saetas sung (in San Miguel, Jerez de la Frontera) that were absolutely soul-stirring.  We is Rachel “la Mala” and myself.  She was most insistent upon wanting to hear some real good Saetas and, well, we hit the jackpot.  Having just returned from hearing the Muezzins 5 times a day calling the faithful to prayer, the similarities are striking.  North African music, and Middle eastern music in general, are the greatest influence on flamenco, to my mind.  Standing in front of Peña Buleria, with the singers directly above us on the balcony, pouring out their hearts in supplication to Christ and la Virgen—its a pagan experience of the highest order!