The Miguel de Cervantes Anniversary Concert

By 
Agustina Covian
May 6, 2014
Mexican student Nora Gonzalez performs "Volver Volver."
Christiane Karam and Javier Limón perform with the Balkan Choir.
Javier Limón
Guest artist La Shica performs with the Cervantes Tribute Band.
Christiane Karam and Javier Limón
Colombian bass student Esther Rojas and Brazilian guitarist Eduardo Mercuri.
Photo by Kelly Davidson
Photo by Kelly Davidson
Photo by Kelly Davidson
Photo by Kelly Davidson
Photo by Kelly Davidson
Photo by Kelly Davidson

Berklee Latino and the Mediterranean Music Institute (MMI), in collaboration with the Instituto Cervantes, presented a concert on April 22 that took the audience on a journey through Spanish music. Spanish guest artist La Shica, faculty members Christiane Karam and Javier Limón, and more than 50 students gave magnificent performances in several genres, from Gregorian chants to Latin American popular music, in this musical celebration of the Spanish language.

The concert began with a tribute to Paco de Lucia, the great master of flamenco guitar who passed away this February. The Paco de Lucia Band played a moving rendition of his famous composition "Zyriab," as arranged by Spanish student saxophonist Juan Antonio Garcia. Karam and her Balkan Choir then performed a beautifully arranged suite that explored the roots of the Spanish language. With Limón on guitar and Palestinian student Naseem Alatrash on cello, the suite represented three main influences on Spanish culture; it began with the Gregorian chant "Salve Regina," continued through a Ladino lullaby, and ended with a Lebanese-Andalusian folk song. 

Paco Moreno, executive director of the Instituto Cervantes at Harvard University, read two excerpts from One Hundred Years of Solitude, by the recently deceased Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and a passage from Miguel de Cervantes' masterpiece, Don QuixoteElsa Rovayo, also known as La Shica, opened the second part of the show with a powerful performance of a traditional Spanish copla mixed with rap. Her flamenco dance and colorful voice accompanied the Cervantes Tribute Band, energized the audience, and added another dimension to the show. Following La Shica, the Cervantes Tribute Band turned in outstanding performances of a variety of Latin American popular music, including the Mexican ranchera "Volver volver," the Panamanian bolero "Historia de un Amor," and the Venezuelan joropo "El Gavilan," among others.

Under the artistic direction of Limón and MMI Executive Director Matthew Nicholl, musical direction of Oscar Stagnaro, and vocal coaching of Sofia Rei, the concert was a great success as well as a magnificent and unforgettable musical experience.