Tag Archives: Anna de la Paz

“Songs for Sorolla…”

“Songs for Sorolla…”

A museum education project inspired in Joaquín Sorolla’s panels “A Vision of Spain” for the Hispanic Society of America in New York City

In Urueña, looking out on the plains of Old Castile

I was asked by the education department of the Hispanic Society of America to program a song and dance, arts education concert based on a series of panels the museum has on permanent display called “A vision of Spain“; painted by late 19th century Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923), it’s an unequaled collection of panels that showcases the different regions and peoples of Spain; a commission by Archer Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society, it stands as Sorolla’s most breathtaking (their sheer size are part of the marvel) and lasting masterpiece. In my opinion, “The Sorolla Room” is one of the most unique spaces in all of New York City.

The Sorolla Room at the
Hispanic Society of America in NYC

In my search for meaningful material for this project, during my last trip to Spain I took a side trip to a remote town in Old Castile, to the medieval town Urueña. With only 42 full time inhabitants, this place is not your average town: it has more bookstores than bars (its part of a group of towns from around the world known as “The village of books“), has at least one “farm to table” gourmet restaurant (super delicious!). But I came to Urueña not for tourism, but to visit and research at two separate foundations: Museo de la música, colección Luis Delgado; and to meet whom for many is the most well known “trobadour” as well as the foremost expert in folk music, dance, story telling and costumes from the Hispanic World: Mstro. Joaquin Díaz, and his formidable foundation and museum Fundación Joaquin Díaz.

Outside the Joaquín Díaz Foundation
in Urueña (Spain)

The musician and composer Luis Delgado and his wife, the dancer and scholar Gema Rizo very kindly picked me up and took me to my bed and breakfast The next day I made my way to the foundation, which is housed in an imposing renaissance era palace. This foundation contains Mstro. Díaz enormous collection as well as his own museum of instruments, artifacts, objects and paintings relating to music. The first office I was ushered into to meet the librarian, had a large poster of Sorolla’s “La fiesta del pan” displayed. I knew I was in the right place…

Book stacks and displays at the
Fundación Joaquín Díaz in Urueña (Spain)

I looked at folkloric songs books as well as costume books of the regions of Spain that I didn’t have too much material on (I was looking for folk songs from Navarra, the Basque country, as well as songs from remote parts of Valencia). Mstro. Díaz very kindly welcomed me and gifted me CD’s from his amazing catalog of recordings. I was ensconced in another world, looking at lithographs of costumes from Andalucía, folkloric jewelry from Salamanca, as well as the religious rites and catholic saints related to “romerías”.

A street in the town of Urueña (Spain) at nightfall

In between my research, I roamed around the deserted town, looked out into the endless sea of fields that are the plains of Castile. At night (bundled up, since they have pretty cold winters in those parts) I walked among the beautifully lit renaissance stone facades of the town.

Lithograph from a book from the
Fundación Joaquín Díaz

The next day, Luis Delgado welcomed me to his museum of musical instruments, which hailed from all over the world, lovingly curated and displayed (I got CD’s from him too! of his group “Los músicos de Urueña” all early music of Spain). I also had a chance to visit several of the specialty bookstores, among them: one dedicated to calligraphy, another to film, another to cook books.

One of many display cases at the museo de instrumentos,
colección Luis Delgado in Urueña (Spain)

My search for “Songs for Sorolla” yielded information I was seeking about the origins of songs that I programmed; Mstro. Díaz’s CD of Hispanic songs from the American Southwest, led me to directly make the connection for the concert in NYC between the Cordobés hat and the American cowboy hat; Spanish dance artist Anna de la Paz subsequently wore a Cordobés “cowboy” costume to bring to life Sorolla’s “El Encierro” (the herding), using Federico García Lorca’s song “Anda Jaleo”. At the foundation I learned about Seville’s La virgen de la Macarena, as I had programmed a song by Joaquín Turina regarding the yearly Easter procession in Seville, portrayed by Sorolla in one of the “A Vision of Spain” panels.

Detail of Joaquín Sorolla’s “El encierro” on permanent display at the Hispanic Society of America in New York City

I found more information that I could use for the teaching concert, which I performed as part of Hispanic Culture Arts on December 17, 2019 for High School students of Upper Manhattan. Among the dances and songs that were heard on that day where a “Seguidillas Manchegas: by Fernando Sor and “Con amores la mi madre” by Obradors to portray the panel “La fiesta del pan”; “Jota” by Manuel de Falla to portray the panel “Aragón”; and “Danza V” by Enrique Granados to portray the panel “La fiesta”.

Spanish dance artist Anna de la Paz,
at the Hispanic Society of America,
photo credit Maureen Termecz
Performing “A vision of Spain” arts education concert, with Anna de La Paz & Rupert Boyd at Hispanic Society of America in NYC,
photo credit Maureen Termecz

“A Granados Celebration”: Uniting artists from Spain and New York City for the Granados Centennial

“A Granados Celebration”: Uniting artists from Spain and New York City for the Granados Centennial

In 2010 I had the pleasure of meeting thru a mutual friend the American pianist and Naxos recording artist Douglas Riva. Like myself, Douglas had cultivated a career based on the musical culture of late 19th and early 20th century Spain, and specifically so, regarding the Catalan composer Enrique (Enric) Granados (1868-1916).  I met him on the heels of the Isaac Albéniz centennial year, for which I had participated in two events: in NYC a small series of concerts entitled Albéniz the Ultimate Romantic with pianist Alexander Wu and guitarist Francisco Roldan; I had also been invited to participate in Albéniz’s The Magic Opal by my friend the pianist and musicologist Borja Mariño, I helped to  obtain a document about the libretto of this opera at New York University,  was on hand to prepare the chorus and soloist with English diction, as well as sing the small role of Olympia in the revival of this opera at the Auditorio Nacional de España in Madrid. At the time I had hopes of doing an Albéniz concert at the Hispanic Society of America, but the fates were not with me.  Knowing of the special relationship that the composer enjoyed with the founder of Hispanic Society of America, Archer Huntington, Douglas and I had our hopes to produce events for the Enrique Granados centennial year in 2016.


Composer Enrique (Enric) Granados

In 2012 we initiated the conversation with Hispanic Society and it was met with approval.  Shortly after, the Official International Committee Commemorating the Centenary of Enrique Granados in 2016 and the 150th Anniversary of his birth in 2017 was formed with a group of scholars, professors, heads of foundations and musicians both in Spain and the United States.  The committee is in part hosted and assisted by the Foundation for Iberian Music at the City University of New York Graduate Center.  Part of the committee’s goal is to have an updated calendar of events taking place throughout the world in 2016-2017 of the music of Enrique Granados, symposiums, commemorations and publications.

Two years of planning then took place to organize the events at Hispanic Society; we agreed on a series of three concerts entitled From Barcelona with Passion, with one dedicated to song repertoire and dance, one to the historical recreation of chamber music concert that took place in 1916 with Granados himself and cellist Pau Casals at the Ritz Hotel in NYC, and a final concert showcasing the solo piano music of the composer with Douglas Riva.  The New York based Sylvan Winds also forms part of the Granados music season at Hispanic Society,  with a concert that includes a transcription of a piece by Granados, accompanied by other music related to the time period.  A symposium event and concert has also been planned for March 10 of 2016 in collaboration with the Foundation of Iberian Music, at the CUNY Graduate Center in NYC.

I was in charge of putting together the dance and vocal concert that just transpired this past December 10 of 2015. The first order of business was finding a pianist that could help me program and advise on repertoire, as well as being able to edit (he is also a composer)  “Danza de los ojos verdes” a piece for classical Spanish dance dedicated by Granados to  Antonia Mercé, La Argentina in 1916. The music transcript in Granados’ hand writing is almost unreadable…I needed a virtuoso pianist accompanist, experienced  and sensitive to singers; in him I had all those things.  Borja, like many pianist accompanists in Spain, had been listening and playing the Tonadillas and the lesser known Canciones Amatorias practically all his life.


Pianist Borja Marino

Our title “From Barcelona with Passion” in my mind necessitated for us to have at least one interpreter from Granados’ native Catalonia.  We invited the lyric soprano Anna Belén Gómez to be part of the concert.  We agreed to divide both cycles between the two female singers.  It was agreed that we would perform 12 tonadillas al estilo antiguo, not excerpted as it is mostly done, but with all its elements, which for the most part is unknown to the general concert going public. The full cycle includes a song with a long recitation that relates a picaresque fable of Goya and an amorous escapade (“La maja de Goya”), a song for baritone called “El majo olvidado”, a duet for mezzo and soprano called “Las currutacas modestas” and the inclusion of an English Horn (for which we invited Dianne Lesser) to play the instrumental obbligato part that Granados composed in “Maja Dolorosa I”.  The program included the entire cycle of the often neglected Canciones Amatorias (difficult for both pianist and singer!) and two of the Songs for male voice by Enrique Granados, recently edited by Douglas with Editorial Boileau in Barcelona (La boira and Noche y dia Diego ronda).  I was able to enlist the help and participation of Argentinian baritone Gustavo Ahualli, fresh from bowing at the Teatro Colon of Buenos Aires, to learn these two elaborate and  difficult songs (La boira is in Catalan), which ranged somewhere between the aesthetics of Mahler, Brahms and Wagner.


Artists of “From Barcelona with Passion: Dance and Vocal Music of Enrique Granados” in the Library of the Hispanic Society of America Museum & Library in NYC, in a pre-concert photograph on the night of the concert.

One of my favorite figures in this time period is the great Spanish dancer Antonia Mercé, La Argentina (1890-1936).  La Argentina played an important role in our story:  Archer Huntington helped make possible for the Metropolitan Opera of New York to premiere the opera “Goyescas”. The ballet of this opera, the “Intermezzo”, was intended to be interpreted by La Argentina, but there were contractual problems.  Granados as a consolation for the dancer who was already in NYC, wrote “Danza de los ojos verdes”, which was premiered with the composer in the audience in NYC in 1916.  The concert of dance and vocal works included a new reinterpretation of this piece with choreography by Gala Vivancos and interpreted by New York based Spanish dance artist Anna de la Paz.  Anna commissioned a copy of the same dress worn by La Argentina on that occasion in 1916, which was designed by the painter Ignacio Zuloaga. Both the new choreography and dress were essayed on the vocal and dance concert of December 10th at Hispanic Society.

La Argentina

Antonia Merce, “La Argentina”

One of the reasons this period in Spanish culture is interesting to me is because it is generally called “The Silver Age” of Spanish culture, and a big characteristic of the period is the collaboration and friendships of artists of all genres coming together to create new and at the time Avant garde modern pieces of art.  Granados wrote dance pieces for the dancer Tortola Valencia among others; his contributions to the genre of dance is not generally known. Many painters and visual artists of the period participated in theatrical projects that included the designing of costumes and sets, as Picasso did with Les ballets russe and Sombrero de tres picos by Falla (the backdrop of this ballet currently hangs at the New York Historical Society in Manhattan).  “Danza de los ojos verdes” was also a creation of friends, with composer, interpreter and painter/costume design…


Collage with an Ignacio Zuloaga painting, and a photograph of Anna de la Paz and Borja Marino interpreting “Danza de los ojos verdes” at Hispanic Society of America Museum & Library in New York City

If any readers of Spanish Song Slinger are performers or musicologists, and have events that can be listed in the Granados Centennial Year of 2016-2017 calendar, please send a press release with the event to the Iberian Music Center, with email heading Granados Centennial Calendar Announcement, to:



For more information on the Enrique Granados Centennial, please see: http://www.granados100.com/





Carte Nuit Espagnole Original

Dear Friends, for those of you that cannot make it tonight for the debut of La nuit espagnole: Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard at the DROM Theater  at 7:15 PM USA Eastern time tonight in the East Village (Avenue A, between E. 5 and E. 6), the show will be streamed in real time, here is the link. We will be posting photos and a video soon!




Repertorio de La nuit espagnole: flamenco y la vanguardia española



La nuit espagnole: flamenco y la vanguardia española

24 de julio, 2013 Teatro DROM de Nueva York a las 19:15 (hora de NYC)

Para mirar la transmisión del espectáculo en vivo via “streaming”

pinchar aqui:


La nuit espagnole: flamenco y la vanguardia española es un espectáculo multidisciplinar que ilumina por medio de la danza, la canción y la pintura a los protagonistas de la cultura flamenca del primer tercio del siglo XX: los bailaores Antonia Mercé, ‘La Argentina’, Encarnación López ‘La Argentinita’ y Vicente Escudero, y los artistas de la vanguardia europea de Entreguerras que se inspiraron en ellos.

La mezzosoprano Anna Tonna, la bailaora Rebeca Tomás, la bailarina de clásico español Anna de la Paz y la pianista jerezana María de los Ángeles Rubio, junto con el guitarrista flamenco Pedro Cortés y la cantaora Barbara Martínez, nos brindan un espectáculo de coreografías originales sobre música de Manuel de Falla, Isaac Albéniz, Federico García Lorca y Gustavo Pittaluga, acompañada con imágenes de Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Frances Picabia, poesía de Federico García Lorca y fotografías de Man Ray.

Con todo ello, se intenta rememorar a estos artistas de la vanguardia europea de Entreguerras y sus creaciones basadas en la cultura flamenca de las décadas de los años veinte y treinta del siglo xx.


Córdoba, de Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)

Baile, de Julián Bautista (1901-1961)

Polo Gitano, de Tomas Bretón (1850-1923)

Seleciones de El amor brujo, de Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

Anda Jaleo, Nana y Tarara de Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)

“Romance de Solita” del ballet La romería de los cornudos,

de Gustavo Pittaluga (1906-1975)

La corrida, de Quinito Valverde (1875-1918)

Farruca y alegrías tradicionales

Inspiración de escritores románticos (Gautier, Bécquer…) y pintores (Manet) desde finales del siglo XIX, la cultura flamenca, sus bailaores y el cante jondo ejercieron una gran fascinación sobre los compositores, escritores y pintores de las vanguardias europeas a principios del siglo XX. Estas “musas” de las vanguardias estuvieron en estrecha vinculación con la música de la rompedora obra de Manuel de Falla El amor brujo:

“Hemos hecho una obra rara, nueva, y desconocemos el efecto que pudiere producir.”

Manuel de Falla, La Patria. Madrid, 15 de abril de 1915


Pastora Imperio en el escenario de El amor brujo, 1915

Pablo Picasso y Francis Picabia se obsesionaron con la representación plástica de la guitarra y la bailaora españolas en sus pinturas; al mismo tiempo, los artistas de la cultura flamenca bebían de las mismas aguas, reflejando las nuevas ideas y estéticas de las vanguardias del momento:

“Así una noche soñé que bailaba con el ruido de dos motores y al poco tiempo lo convertí en realidad, llevándolo a la escena de la sala Pleyel de París, en un concierto en el que presenté un baile flamenco-gitano, con el acompañamiento de dos dinamos de diferente intensidad. Yo, a fuerza de quebrar la línea recta que producía el sonido eléctrico, compuse la combinación rítmico-plástica que me había propuesto por voluntad, y que para mí representaba la lucha del hombre y la maquina, de la improvisación y la técnica mecánica.”

Vicente Escudero (bailaor), Influencia y el surrealismo en mi baile, 1948


Many Ray, Fotografia de Vicente Escudero, 1928

La admiración de Lorca por la bailaora Antonia Mercé, “La Argentina” no es sorprendente:

“Esa española, enjuta, seca, nerviosa, mujer en vilo que está ahí sentada, es una heroína de su propio cuerpo; una domadora de sus deseos frágiles, que es la doble vista. Quiero decir que sus ojos no están en ella mientras baila, sino enfrente de ella, mirando y rigiendo sus menores movimientos al cuidado de la objetividad de sus explicaciones, ayudando a mantener las ráfagas ciegas e impresionantes del instinto puro.”

Federico García Lorca, Elogio de Antonia Mercé “La Argentina”


En La nuit espagnole: flamenco y la vanguardia española, los géneros españoles de canción y danza clásicos sienten los clamores de los ritmos flamencos. La voz lírica se mezcla con la del vibrante cante. La danza clásico-española irá de la mano de la danza flamenca en un espectáculo inolvidable sobre el arte que inspiró a las vanguardias europeas de Entreguerras.

Caratula del disco de las canciones antiguas espanolas, cantadas por La Argentinita y con Federico Garcia Lorca al piano

Caratula del disco de las canciones antiguas espanolas, cantadas por La Argentinita y Federico Garcia Lorca al piano

Cartel Nuit Espagnole (1)

Music for La nuit espagnole: Romance de Solita from “Romeria de los cornudos”


With this curious project that I have cooked up of La nuit espagnole:  Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard, I can finally bring out of the closet a couple of songs by classical Spanish composers that have influences of Flamenco music. Since my collaboration is with Spanish classical dancer Anna de la Paz and flamenco dancer Rebeca Tomás, we all put in the mix the various ingredients that would make up this “experimental” evening of Spanish classical dance and flamenco dance and song, that premieres on July 24th at the DROM Theater, as part of Between the Seas Festival in NYC:

Córdoba by Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)

Baile by Julián Bautista (1901-1961)

Polo Gitano by Tomas Bretón (1850-1923)

Excerpts from El amor brujo by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

Anda Jaleo by Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)

Romance de Solita from the ballet La romería de los cornudos by Gustavo Pittaluga (1906-1975)

La corrida by “Quinito” Valverde (1875-1918) castanet solo

Traditional flamenco arrangements of Farruca and Alegrías

Our idea was to do an homage to the great flamenco dancers of the first part of the 20th century and highlight their relationship with the artists and intellectuals of the Spanish Vanguard of the time.  Anna de la Paz programmed items that were part of the repertoire of the great Spanish dancer Antonia Mercé “La Argentina”.  Anna chose “La corrida” by “Quinito” Valverde, which will be done as a castanet solo with piano, “Polo Gitano” (taken from the piano suite Escenas andaluzas) by zarzuela composer Tomas Bretón and “Córdoba” by Isaac Albéniz, all pieces that were part of Antonia Mercé’s repertoire.  I added to the mix a song from a somewhat forgotten ballet composed and dedicated to Antonia Mercé called “La romería de los cornudos”. I first heard this song, oddly enough, in a recording  with American mezzo soprano Nan Merriman and pianist Gerard Moore in a song recital album (re issued by Testament) from the 50’s of Spanish and French songs. I promptly ordered the score from Musicroom and have had it for YEARS. There is also a recording that I have not heard as of yet by Conchita Supervia with Gustavo Pittaluga himself conducting her in the orchestral version, dated 1933 (Conchita Supervia, Complete Recordings, Volume 4, Odeon).

During a chance meeting at a photo copy place in Madrid this past May with Granada-born flamenco poet Juan de Loxa, founder and past director of the Federico García Lorca House Museum in Fuentevaqueros, he clarified for me that although this ballet was composed for Antonia Mercé, who danced fragments of it in her presentations, the whole ballet was actually premiered by Encarnación López “La Argentinita“.


Spanish dancer, Encarnación López, “La Argentinita”

Mr. de Loxa made available to me other supporting materials, including a lovely book that he edited that documented the close friendship between “Argentinita” and the poet Federico García Lorca.  The composer of the ballet is Gustavo Pittaluga, a figure from the so called Generation of ’27; known in Spanish music history books as part of the first wave of Spanish vanguard composers, his works are hardly done in Spain ( thought there is a recording of Romeria de los cornudos by Anton Ros Marbá with the Real Orquesta de Sevilla, 1996). A highly original composer, I listened to his curious orchestral piece Habanera in youtube.  Like most figures from the Spanish vanguard, he was interested in flamenco culture. The libretto of “Romería de los Cornudos” was done by the very much admired and respected writer and intellectual C. Rivas Cherif.

“Romance de Solita” is the one solo song in “Romería”, scored for mezzo soprano and orchestra.  It starts with a standard flamenco “llamada”, with extensive ornate flourishes. Solita is the town street singer, and tells the legend of the the miracles granted by the local church painting in a small village in the Sierras of Granada, the  Christ of Moclín with its legend of granting children to sterile women. The dance rhythms soon becomes evident, and it is interposed with free sections for the singer to sing the ornate flamenco like flourishes; I will sing this piece with Maria de los Angeles Rubio at the piano; both Anna de la Paz and Rebeca Tomás will present an original choreography to this piece.

Spanish classical dancer, Anna de la Paz

Spanish classical dancer, Anna de la Paz


Flamenco dancer, Rebeca Tomás

La nuit espagnole: Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard at Between the Seas Festival in NYC this July


"Manicomio Flamenco", Spanish dancer, painter and writer Vicente Escudero, from   the book "Pintura que baila"

“Manicomio Flamenco”, by Spanish dancer, painter and writer Vicente Escudero, from
the collection “Pintura que baila”

I  had dabbled in the past with learning to dance flamenco in New York City in the past 10 years, when the opera Carmen and Manuel de Falla’s Amor brujo had come up for me.  I also encountered dancers at the various types of Spanish music concerts I sang  in the NYC area throughout the years groups like Caprichos Boleros,  Amigos de la Zarzuela, always enjoying their company.  Spanish dancers are breed of their own, emanating a special intensity…the past couple of years I have been involved in several multi-disciplinary projects involving dancers, recently with “Life and Dance in the Times of the Duchess of Alba” at Hispanic Society of America and “KLIMT: Artist of the Soul”. Dance seems to be in my heart and body in terms of my creative projects these days. If music creates a particular atmosphere,  the adding of dance to the mix elevates the energy of theatrical space in a special and palpable way.

This past February I threw my hat in the ring with a new showcase festival in New York City that takes place in July 23-26 of this year, Between the Seas Festival, led by Greek producer, director and actress Aktina Stathaki.  Now in its third year, the festival  is dedicated to emerging projects by artists from and/or themes from Mediterranean culture.  I proposed to Aktina a spectacle that had been stewing in my brain for the past couple of years, a collaboration with New York based flamenco dancer Rebeca Tomás called La nuit espagnole: Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard; the show brings dance, music and poetry together to highlight how flamenco culture and performers influenced and inspired the European Vanguard before the Spanish Civil War. Picasso, Lorca, Dalí and Picabia hung out and interacted with La Argentina Antonia Mercé, La Argentinita Encarnación López and Vicente Escudero both informally and artistically, and even corresponded with each other:


“For the prodigious Antonia Mercé, with the affection and ardent admiration
of Federico García Lorca, New York, 1929″

These particular dancers where multifaceted (a time also when there was no clear line between Spanish classical and flamenco) were in turn inspired by Cubism, Surrealism, as well as absorbing the intellectual concerns of the times regarding Spanish identity, as they searched for roots in the rhythms of Spanish folklore.  Spectacles and costume designs were done by the Avant-garde designers, and there was a communing of the genres of the arts: painting, dance, poetry and theater.  This time period is Spain’s so called “Silver Age” (1898-1936). The personalities in this era include composers Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, Joaquín Nin; painters Joaquín Sorolla, Ignacio Zuloaga and Salvador Dalí; poets Juan Ramón Jiménez, Federico García Lorca and Rafael Alberti. On the international front just to name a few are photographer Man Ray and painter Frances Picabia.  Flamenco, for these artists of the first wave of Modernism in Spain was a fodder, sort of wine that is consumed to perceive a mood and inspiration for artistic works that where on the vanguard of expression in the early part of the century up until the 1936 and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.


Costume design by Néstor for “La Argentina” Antonia Mercé for the ballet El Fandango del Candil (1927)

This movement elevated what was before “rural”  to a market of  international art consumption of the highest levels both in Europe and the Americas.  Its the beginning of the Spanish chic, already started with the 19th century Romantic travelers such as Théophile Gautier (with his book “A Romantic in Spain) and the propagation of the mythic “Exotic” country, with its perceived Oriental and African overtones prevalent in those times.

Calling upon dancer friend Anna de la Paz, who specializes en classical and folkloric Spanish dance, Spanish pianist María de los Ángeles Rubio, a native of Jeréz de la Frontera in Andalucía and the aformentioned flamenco dancer Rebeca Tomás,  we will be cooking up a show that unites Flamenco, Classical Spanish Dance, poetry and paintings to conjure up this exciting time in Spain’s cultural history.  The show is premieres on July 24, 2013 at the DROM Theater in New York City, for more information please see the link below.  More posts to come as we develop the show!

Between the Seas Festival and DROM Theater info on “La nuit espagnole: Flamenco and the Spanish Vanguard”, July 24, 2013