Congratulations, Núria Feliu!

Today, 21 September, singer Núria Feliu is celebrating her 80th birthday. During her career of over 55 years she became widely liked not only for her performance of Catalan popular songs, boleros and music hall songs, but also for the popularization of American successes of country and jazz compositions.

Her popularity is largely due to the fact that she always sang in Catalan: ‘I wanted to prove that in Catalan you have and can sing all kinds of musical genres.’ Núria has always been very committed to Catalonia: ‘Singing was an excuse, actually. An excuse to be able to support the people and get to know my country.’

In this video she renders the Jacques Brel’s chanson El clar país (Le Plat Pays) during the concert on the occasion of her 70th birthday and a career of 50 years.

For more of her music go to her comprehensive website.

Poetry set to music

Recently the website ‘Música de poetes‘ launched a Spotify playing list dedicated to Catalan female voices. Listen to the music of Judit Nedderman, Meritxell Gené, Gemma Humet, Anaïs Vila, Mirna Vilasís and other women who, all in their own style, interpret work of several Catalan poets.

Click here to listen to the playing list or first get a taste for what these artists have in store for you watching this video in which jazz singer Celeste Alías performs ‘Sovint diem’ (‘We often say’), a poem by Montserrat Abelló set to music by Celeste herself.

Two jazzy women

On the occasion of International Jazz Day 2021 we put the spotlight on two jazz musicians.

Aurora Bertrana (1892-1974) wanted to be a writer, but her father opposed her plans and sent her to study the cello in Girona. Later she moved to Barcelona where she made a living playing the cello in a women’s trio in night clubs. In 1923 she continued her music studies in Geneva, played in a trio at the Hotel Chamonix and shortly founded there her own ensemble Jazz Women, the first jazz band made up entirely of women. Some six years later Aurora finally published her first book, but that is another story.

A present-day performer is the versatile jazz singer Laura Simó. For a taste of her musical talent listen to ‘Down Here on the Ground’, composed by Lalo Schifrin from the prison drama film ‘Cool Hand Luke‘. Enjoy!

The voice of Mariona Sagarra

Today is World Voice Day with the central theme ‘One World, Many Voices’. So it is the perfect moment to enjoy this video of performer Mariona Sagarra, voice and effects unit, who loves to explore the possibilities of her voice combining it with poetry: ‘Dues dones’ (‘Two Women’), a poem by Maria-Mercè Marçal.

On her website Mariona describes her art as follows: ‘Music, voice and poetry. My intention has been to weave different worlds together, internal dynamics, possible combinations, improvisations and surprises, timbres and emotions. Sonorities tainted with tradition.’

Her latest CD is called ‘Deixa’m tornar-te a dir’ (‘Let me tell you once more’), inspired by Montserrat Abelló’s poetry.

Born on this day

Listen and watch the video of ‘El cos de les dones’ (‘The Body of Women’), a traditional Arabic song, performed by Rosa Zaragoza, singer and musicologist, who specializes in Sephardic music and traditionals from Spain’s ancient cultures: Sephardic, al-Andalus and Christian.

The paintings in this video are by Ann Marshall, Francine Van Hove, Kimberly Dow and Louise Peabody.

Born on 23 March 1958 in Barcelona.

Carme Bravo, pianist

Carme Bravo Roy (Gironella, Berguedà, October 24, 1919 – Barcelona, April 29, 2007) was a Catalan pianist. She completed her piano studies at the Municipal Conservatory of Barcelona where she received various awards and qualifications including a scholarship to study in Paris. In 1950 she moved to France where she studied under Madga Tagliaferro and Lazare Lévy“.

This is the beginning of a new page on the English Wikipedia dedicated to Carme Bravo who was a celebrated concert pianist and pedagogue, but by many only known as the wife of Catalan composer Frederic Mompou.

For more information with links to her discography go to this page written by Kayla Portugal, graduated pianist from the Escola Superior de Música.

Soprano Montserrat Caballé about her teacher Conxita Badia

She was unique, unique, all the monuments they could create for her would be too few and if I should be good enough as to leave a mark, the one that I had to leave would be hers.

Montserrat Caballé (1933-2018) was one of Conxita Badia‘s pupils.

Conxita Badia and Montserrat Caballé

Photo: @Fons Conxita Badia, Biblioteca de Catalunya.

Vote now: Tribade!

Congratulations are in order for Tribade who have been nominated for the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards 2020, the ‘annual EU prize for popular and contemporary music celebrates emerging artists who represent the European sound of today and tomorrow.’

The nomination announces Tribade as ‘a young female rap act from Barcelona, lead by MCs Bittah, Masiva Lulla and Sombra Alor. The group is devoted to original rap culture and its mission of denunciation and empowerment through rhythm and poetry. Lyrically, Tribade brings the XXIst century universe of three young women fighting against precariousness in a male dominated society and amplifies through its poetry repressed realities such as LGBT, as well as local and neighbourhood struggles, and antifa activism. Musically, Barcelona is not only 90s mestizo, rumba and fiesta beats: Tribade blends a fresh and original mix of rap with flamenco, soul, Afrotrap and reggaeton.’

Each artist can win two prizes. First an international jury will select eight winners, each winner will receive a prize worth € 10.000,- to be spent towards promoting their international careers. But music fans across Europe can also vote for their favourite artist; the winner of the Public Choice Award will receive a prize of €5.000,-.

It is worthwhile to take part and vote, because you are competing for a trip including a stay and a festival entrance to Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) in January 2020 in the Netherlands. So do not hesitate and go to the artist profile of Tribade and cast your vote for their music and its powerful message!

A composer about Conxita Badia’s voice

An unmistakable voice with an expression so full of emotion, but always natural and sincere which makes of Conxita Badia – ‘voice of our songs’ – an ideal interpreter of my songs.

Pianist and composer Frederic Mompou who frequently accompanied Conxita singing his songs, like ‘Damunt de tu només les flors‘.

 

Conxita Badia interprets Frederic Mompou

Conxita Badia sings the poem Damunt de tu, només les flors, written and composed by Frederic Mompou who also accompanies her on the piano.

This concert took place in the gardens of the Villa-Museum Pau Casals, in El Vendrell (Baix Penedès region), where she used to sing every summer accompanied by Pau Casals till the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936.

Click here for an English translation of the poem. Photos: @Fons Conxita Badia, Biblioteca de Catalunya.

Photo exhibition ‘Working Women in Lloret (1900-1990)’

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The exhibitionThe Work of Women in Lloret (1900-1990)‘ (original title: “El treball de les dones a Lloret (1900-1990)” shows the development of working women in Lloret de Mar during the 20th century. These women have always been invisible and this collection aims to give them the credit they earn.

The documents and many photos do not only talk about teachers, politicians or hoteliers, but also lace-makers, net-menders and cleaning ladies and other professionals. You see women in all kind of situations, like working in the field, doing the washing in the river or at their job in the textile factory.

It was an era of change from traditional to modern society. According to the theoretical model the male mostly working as a fisherman or farmer, was the breadwinner and the woman was confined to her household chores and bearing and educating children. Many times reality turned out to be different. In more than one case because the income generated by the male was not enough to keep the family going and the earnings of the woman were more than welcome.

A very important push into modernity was upcoming tourism in the 1950s in which the women played a crucial role, thus not only changing the day-to-day life of their families but also that of Lloret itself. This interesting piece of history featuring these pioneer women, is very well explained in the documentary Pensió Completa about this phenomenon that made the small fishing town of Lloret de Mar into a popular seaside resort visited each year by thousands of tourists.

The above photo is a fragment of the poster of the exhibition showing a woman mending stockings (Josep Vilà i Prats, 1910) Source: Municipality of Lloret.

For more photos visit the online catalogue.

Practical information:
Open till 31/12
Venue: Arxiu Municipal (Municipal Archives)
Address: Josep Lluhí, 24 – Lloret de Mar
Free entrance.

Càndida Pérez and her music hall songs

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It is 1920 and Pilar Alonso, a singer of popular songs and very famous in those days, performs one cuplé after another and scores such a success that at the end of the show she has exhausted her repertoire of pieces in Spanish. The public demands more and then Pilar begins to sing Les caramelles, a cuplé in Catalan newly composed by Càndida Pérez and already very popular in Catalonia. The audience is wildly enthusiastic and from that moment on cuplés in Catalan become all the rage and are sung in every corner of the country.

Career
By then Càndida is 27 years old and boasts a wide experience in theatre style songs. She has not only starred in shows in her native town of Olot, but has also worked in Italy under contract of an Italian vaudeville company directed by Melquiadez Lucarelli Ferri.

After this tour she returns to Catalonia, to fulfill her dream and study music and composition in Barcelona. Together with Lucarelli she founds an academy of song and dance, specialising in music hall shows in the ‘Carrer de Valldonzella, 6’. In the same premises a musical production company is established enabling Càndida to make some records.

Continue reading “Càndida Pérez and her music hall songs”

Càndida’s cuplés

The cuplé, a popular risqué Spanish theatre song style, was especially popular in the late years of the 19th century. From 1893–1911 the songs were a feature of the “género ínfimo” (lowest type) cabaret theatre traditionally sung by solo female singers, or men in drag, and attended mainly by men.

In the second decade of the 20th century the cuplé, in a more respectable form, became more family-friendly and was associated with the makings of stars of the Spanish theatre.

In Barcelona the theatres on the Paral·lel, in the 20th century the centre of Barcelona’s nightlife and the home of Càndida Pérez and Raquel Meller, hosted many shows featuring cuplés. Click here and listen to some original audios.

The 70s knew a revival of this genre through performances and recordings by Núria Feliu (El cuplet a BarcelonaCuplets tradicionals catalans) and Guillermina Motta (especially her LP Remena nena).

Two popular songs composed by Càndida
El noi de la mare originally was a cradlesong, probably written in the 18th or 19th century. Gradually it became part of the Christmas repertoire. Many adaptions have been made and one of the most moving versions is that of Càndida Pérez and Sants Albiesa recorded by Raquel Meller in Paris in 1926.

Outside Spain it was made famous by Andrés Segovia who used to perform Miguel Llobet‘s guitar transcription as an encore.

The lyric of Marieta de l’ull viu, written by Faust Casals, tells the legend of woman who had really lived in the Ribera district of Barcelona. It explains that she used to walk to the well called El Font del Gat on the hill of Mountjuïc escorted by a soldier who abandoned her when she got pregnant. This feat urged her to leave the area which motivated the creation of the song.

In the above video the theatre company “Els Jocs Florals de Canprosa” interprets La Marieta de l’ull viu, composed by Càndida Pérez. The company’s director is Jordi Prat i Coll; musical direction by Dani Espasa and choreography by Montse Colomé.

Both songs are still widely played and sung throughout Catalonia.

Conxita Badia, singer

Some time ago I read the review of a documentary that got me curious. Its title was enticing: Conxita Badia no existeix (Conxita Badia does not exist). The name did ring a bell, but was I remembering someone who did not exist?

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Conxita Badia in Argentina (1939)

It turned out to be a film about soprano Conxita Badia (1897-1975) made by her great-granddaughter Eulàlia Domènech. She had found out that very few audios and no videos of Badia’s performances have been preserved. This lack of remnants gave her the feeling that she had to inform the general public about her talented relative who was once universally recognized as an accomplished lied singer.

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Photo taken in 1934

In the interviews shown in the documentary, experts and people who have known her explain that Conxita Badia was the perfect lied singer and an inspiration for many composers and musicians. In fact, quite a number of them seems to owe their fame to her.

Apart from her beautiful soprano voice, Conxita Badia allegedly knew how to communicate to the public the action and emotion of the poem set to music. Her sense of timing, rhythm, interval and phrasing were flawless, while her facial expression and body language supported the meaning of the song. Critics especially praise her diction stressing the clear and accurate presentation of each and every line.

According to the film, in her time the vocalist was famous and performed in the best concert halls in Europe and North and South America. This means that many people around the world must have heard her sing. Yet she hardly left any trace. So here is what I have come to know about her. Longread: a life filled with songs

Conxita Badia sings Enric Granados

In this audio singer Conxita Badia is interpreting Tonadillas and Canciones Amatorias, composed by Enric Granados. Two of the latter songs were dedicated to Conxita by the composer; she sung them for the first time in 1913 in the Sala Granados (Barcelona).

Shortly I will publish a page with an illustrated biography and other posts related to this forgotten artist.

Photo (@Fons Conxita Badia, Biblioteca de Catalunya): Recording the LP “Homenaje a Granados” with pianist Alícia de Larrocha and impresario Oriol Martorell.

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