Flamenco masters return to Instituto Cervantes of Chicago, 31 W. Ohio Street, for its 16th Chicago Flamenco Festival, a multi-week festival celebrating Flamenco music and dance, running February 23 – March 21. This year’s festival features performances by top Chicago- and U.S.-based Flamenco artists, offering the best international celebration of Flamenco outside of Spain.
The 16th Chicago Flamenco Festival opens on Friday, February 23 at 7:00 p.m. with internationally renowned flamenco dancer Estrella Morena and the soulful singer Amparo “La Repompilla” Heredia. Additional headlining artists include multi-BRIO Award-winning dancer Nelida Tirado; California native Lakshmi “La Chimi” Basile – the first non-Spanish artist to win an award in the prestigious flamenco contest Concurso de las Minas de La Union; rising flamenco star Juan Tomás de la Molía; French-born gypsy singer José Cortés Fernández; and the great flamenco guitar master Pepe Habichuela in concert with modern singer/guitarist Kiki Morente. Highlighting the multi-ethnic cultural roots of flamenco, local Hispanic, Indian, Jewish, Arabic and Romani flamenco artists from Las Guitarras de España, Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, Clinard Dance Company, and KANTUZ will also perform in addition to the only female flamenco guitarist in Chicago,Andrea Salcedo.
During the festival, Instituto Cervantes of Chicago will also give the Chicago Premiere of three flamenco-inspired films starting with the award-winning documentary from anthropologist Miguel Ángel Rosales, Gurumbé: Afro-Andalusian Memories. The film explores the contribution of Afro-Andalusians to flamenco as the art form developed in a screening on Wednesday, February 28 at 6:00 p.m. The documentary Tocaoras will explore the past, present and future of Flamenco on Wednesday, March 7 at 6:00 p.m. Screening on Wednesday, March 14 at 6:00 p.m. is No, un cuento flamenco (NO, A Flamenco Tale) about a fictional musical film, an urban, contemporary flamenco opera in which the action is expressed through dance and the original text is narrated through song.
A beginning level bilingual family Spanish guitar class – the only course of its kind in Chicago – will be offered Saturdays, February 10 – March 31 from 11:00 a.m. – noon. Taught by Rafael Vivanco from KANTUZ, the class is designed for children to take alongside their parents in addition to being taught in both English and Spanish. Students need not have previously studied music or guitar.
The 16th Chicago Flamenco Festival continues its annual tradition of kicking off the festival with special preview performance from Las Guitarras de España at City Winery Chicago (1200 W. Randolph St). This year’s preview concert, titled “The Chicago-Andalusian Music Project,” will take place on Monday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 23 – 7:00 p.m.
Opening Night Concert & Reception
A Tribute to Estrella Morena; opening performance by Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater
Internationally renowned flamenco dancer Estrella Morena performs with Amparo Heredia “La Repompilla,” Flamenco Singer; Manolo de Cordoba, Palmas; and Jose Manual Alconchel, Guitar.
Luisa Manuela Estrella de la Fuente Moreno, known as Estrella Morena and world famous among dance and flamenco enthusiasts, began her training at the age of five. Her professional career began at 15 on the flamenco stage of Madrid. Two years later, she was hired by Rafael de Cordova and performed her debut as lead dancer in the great Teatro de La Zarzuela in Madrid. Morena travelled to New York, auditioned with the Great Antonio and was subsequently hired as the lead dancer of his ballet. Morena performed internationally and on TV with the Great Antonio. In 1974, she returned to New York and continued to tour the United States and Canada with the famous Jose Greco and acted in the Chateau Madrid. In 1985, she moved to Miami, Florida where she settled down with her husband–the great singer Pepe de Malaga–and their son. Since then, Estrella Morena performed as a guest artist for Bailes Ferrer Flamenco Music and Dance Company and, in 2001, she performed for three days in the Lincoln Theatre at Miami Beach with the New World Symphony alongside singer Carmen Linares.
Amparo “La Repompilla” Heredia is a pure gypsy singer from Malaga with an explosive yet soulful expression. Daughter of the mystical Rafaela “La Repompa” and the great guitarist Luis Heredia, Heredia was born in Malaga in 1970. She began to sing on the stages of New York and Miami with various flamenco companies and has sung in the Madrilenian Café de Chinitas for the dancer Juan Andrés Maya. In the year 2000, she returned to Spain with her parents to perform on the La Repompa flamenco stage in Malaga. Today, she continues performing with her family and singing for the young flamenco dancer Sergio Aranda and as well as her sister Raquel Heredia. She has won two first prizes in the prestigious “Cante de las Minas” Festival and participates in larger productions such as “Biznagas”, produced by the Andalusian Agency of Flamenco, which has toured through Catalonia, Zaragoza and Malaga with great success.
The Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater is the premier Spanish dance company and center in the United States to have in-residence status at a university (Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago). The Ensemble is chartered to share the rich traditions of dance, music, literature, and culture of Spain in the classical, folkloric and Flamenco styles. It reaches out to all communities as a center which encourages new artistic creativity within the framework of the Ibero-Hispanic experience. The company, founded in 1976 by Dame Libby Komaiko and under the artistic leaderships of Irma Suárez Ruíz, is comprised of forty dancers, singers, and musicians representing a mosaic of cultures from around the world.
Saturday, February 24 – 7:00 p.m.
A Tribute to Estrella Morena – Estrella Morena returns for an encore performance with Amparo Heredia “La Repompilla,” Flamenco Singer; Manolo de Cordoba, Palmas; and Jose Manual Alconchel, Guitar.
Friday, March 2 – 7:00 p.m.
“Flamenco: Callejón Un, 2, 3” featuring Nelida Tirado; opening performance by KANTUZ – Four extraordinary flamenco artists united from different locations and generations – Pedro Cortés, José Cortés Fernández, José Moreno and Nelida Tirado – promise to enrapture and thrill the audiences with their virtuosity, power, sensuality and magnetic energy. Experience the raw passion of traditional flamenco and experienced wisdom of these incredible artists as they transport you to a magical plane seldom experienced outside of Spain.
Nelida Tirado began her formal training at NY’s Ballet Hispanico at the age of six. Barely out of her teens, she was invited to tour the U.S. with José Molina of Bailes Españoles and work as a soloist in Carlota Santana’s Flamenco Vivo. Tirado served as a soloist and dance captain of the María Pagés Dance Company and Antonio El Pipa Dance Company, performing at prestigious flamenco festivals and on television in Spain and throughout France, Italy, UK, Germany and Japan. She has performed in Carmen with the Metropolitan Opera of NY, the World Music Institute’s Gypsy Caravan 1 and Noche Flamenca and was the featured flamenco star in River Dance on Broadway and touring companies.
Tirado was recipient of the 2007 and 2010 BRIO Award for Artistic Excellence. She was featured in Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” and received the 2017 Rosario Dawson Muse Fellow through BAAD.
José Cortés Fernández was born in the south of France. At the age of ten, he won the “premio del joven aficionado del cante flamenco”(Young Flamenco Singer Prize). In 2010, he moved to the United States and, in 2014, had the honor to sing for the San Francisco Opera in Giselle. Since then he has worked with the Aspen Ballet Juan Siddi Company with whom he toured. An incredible and traditional artist, José Cortés Fernández takes a step forward in his conception of flamenco by singing pure flamenco alongside other genres.
Born into a family of famous flamenco artists Estrella Morena (dancer) and Pepe de Málaga (singer), dancer/percussionist/singer José Moreno has choreographed and performed with the New World Symphony Orchestra (2001) and the Boston Flamenco Ballet (2004) at the Lincoln Theater. He has also performed at Carnegie Hall (2010), Alliance Theatre (Zorro, The Musical, 2013), BAM (with Flamenco Vivo Dance Company, 2015), The Metropolitan Opera NYC (2014-2017), the Kennedy Center/Washington National Opera (Carmen, 2015-2016) and the Chicago Sinfonietta in the Ravinia Festival (2016). He has also appeared at the annual Panama Jazz Festival and participated in a Spanish TV series, Los Descendientes de Andalucía, produced by Canal Sur.
Guitarist Pedro Cortés has toured professionally since the age of 17 and has gained international recognition as a soloist and composer. He has premiered his workEn la oscuridad de las minas at the Teatro Albéniz in Madrid and had works premiered by the Carlota Santana Spanish Dance Company at the Joyce Theater in New York. He has written two books on flamenco, El Dron del faraón and Cruzando el charco, published by the American Institute of Guitar. He has been a guest artist with the St. Louis Opera and the New York Grand Opera. Cortés is a third-generation flamenco guitarist and uses the experience passed down to him by his family to maintain the purity of flamenco while creating new compositions.
Chicago-based Flamenco company KANTUZ opens. KANTUZ is a project led by Amaia Gabantxo (voice) and Rafael Vivanco (guitar), two musicians who have performed together with various groups in Chicago since 2012. Rooted in classical Spanish, Latin American and flamenco music, this group aims to explore the spaces where diverse styles of Hispanic music converge, looking for ancient connections between medieval, baroque, classical and flamenco songs. KANTUZ combines voice and guitar with poetry, as well as with other arts like flamenco and contemporary dance.
Saturday, March 3 – 7:00 p.m.
“Flamenco: Callejón Un, 2, 3” featuring Nelida Tirado; opening performance by Maya Tatiana and Mehran Jalili (on faculty at Old Town School of Folk Music)
Pedro Cortés, José Cortés Fernández, José Moreno and Nelida Tirado return for an encore performance.
Friday, March 9 – 7:00 p.m.
La Chimi; opening performance by Clinard Dance Company
Flamenco dancer Lakshmi Basile “La Chimi” grew up within the San Diego flamenco scene. She moved to Spain at age 20 to further her flamenco studies and was fortunate to quickly be embraced by artists such as Manuel Molina, Remedios Amaya, Joselito Mendez, Antonio Moya, La Hermenia, Carmen Ledesma, Antonio Rey and La Tona. La Chimi made history becoming the first non-Spanish artist to win the central flamenco contest, Concurso de las Minas de La Unión. She has also won the Concurso Nacional de Arte Flamenco e Córdoba. Performing with La Chimi are singer Alejandro El Gambimbas, guistarist Jose Manuel Alconchel, and Singer/percussionist Bruno Serrano.
Contemporary and American-style flamenco from Chicago’s Clinard Dance Company opens. Clinard has pioneered a unique style of flamenco dance, pushing the limits of both a traditional flamenco quartet format and their original content-driven works.
Saturday, March 10 – 7:00 p.m.
La Chimi – La Chimi returns for an encore performance.
Sunday, March 11 – 7:00 p.m.
FlamencoEñe: Rycardo Moreno “A Galeano” – Old Town School of Folk Music’s Szold Concert Hall, 4545 N. Lincoln Ave
Presented in association with Fundación SGAE and Instituto Cervantes at Old Town School of Folk Music, flamenco and jazz guitarist Rycardo Moreno returns to Chicago. His show, A Galeano, is a tribute to Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano from his book Libro de los Abrazos (The Book of Hugs). According to Moreno, the book “was impregnated with music and you just had to decipher it.” Ten of Galeano’s stories are connected through music, evoking flamenco expressions of the people. Moreno’s career has included collaborations with Dorantes, Esperanza Fernández, Buika, and El Lebrijano. Accompaniment on vocals (Lela Soto), and guitar and palmas (Dani Bonilla).
This concert is part of the series Flamenco Eñe organized by Fundación SGAE.
Saturday, March 17 – 7:00 p.m.
La Banda Morisca – La Banda Morisca is a passionate group of musicians from the World Music and traditional Spanish music circuits. The group fuses their original and creative view of traditional repertoire with influences from the South Mediterranean, such as Muwashahas, Chaabi, Dahmane el Harachi and Nass el Ghiwane, as well as the mood of the traditional flamenco from Jerez and Andalusian, such as Lole & Manuel, El Chozas, and Triana. They’ve performed on throughout the world at SXSW, the Flamenco Festival in New York, Small World Music Festival, World Arab Festival, New England Conservatory, International Festival of Merzouga, World Arab Institute, Festival of Mestizo Music Festival, and the Sharq Taronalari Festival. They are currently working on their third album.
José Mari Cala: Voix
José Cabral: Strings
Juan Miguel Cabral: Electric bass
Antonio Torres: Winds
Andrés Tomás Rodriguez: Drums
Belén Lucena: Violin
Juan Tomás de la Molía: Dancer
Wednesday, March 21 – 7:00 p.m.
Closing Night Concert & Reception
Pepe Habichuela & Kiki Morente; opening performance by Andrea Salcedo
Flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela will appear with singer/guitarist Kiki Morente, son of the legendary experimental flamenco singer Enrique Morente. Habichuela & (Enrique) Morente were trailblazers of what came to be called ‘nuevo flamenco’ in the 1970s. In this concert, Pepe Habichuela, the last living representative of the era of flamenco guitar with his 60 years of experience, will accompany Kiki Morente. Morente’s skill and intuition has modernized flamenco without renouncing its roots, which is evident in the album Albayzín. Chicago-based Mexican guitarist Andrea Salcedo, the first female flamenco guitarist from her home country, opens.
The great flamenco guitar master Pepe Habichuela is the patriarch of one of the most revered families in gypsy flamenco, Los Habichuela. Born in Granada, the mecca of flamenco, he celebrates 60 years of flamenco guitar rooted in tradition and innovation. Pepe is renowned for his historic collaborations with Enrique Morente and as a trailblazer of “nuevo flamenco” (new-age flamenco).
Pepe Habichuela and Kiki Morente come from two renowned families in flamenco and music. The Habichuela-Morente alliance reunites these two families, previously bound by care and respect, in an intimate and moving dialogue. Here Pepe Habichuela, the last living representative of the era of flamenco guitar with his 60 years of experience, will accompany Kiki Morente, the final link of her Granada-based family. Kiki’s skill and intuition has modernized flamenco without renouncing its roots, which is evident in her first album Albayzín.
A native of Mexico, Andrea Salcedo is the first female flamenco guitarist from her home country. She was exposed to music at an early age. Growing up, she saw her brother play flamenco guitar and listened to different types of music such as flamenco, jazz and classical guitar. She took her first guitar lessons with her brother when she was 8 and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance on Classical Guitar from Northern Illinois University where she studied under Fareed Haque. She graduated Cum Laude.
She is alumni of the Merit School of Music where she graduated with honors in 2013. She also received the Merit Spirit Award. There, she studied guitar under the direction of both Thomas Clippert and Robert Sherman and was part of ensembles including the guitar ensemble directed by Mr. Clippert and Mr. Sherman, as well as the Latin Jazz band under Michael McLaughin and Victor Garcia. She furthered her studies in flamenco guitar with renowned Maestro Jesus de Araceli from Spain, who took her as his protégée. Under his direction she participated with renowned flamenco dancer Azucena Vega and her company Soul & Duende Spanish American Theater. In the summer of 2015, she traveled to Spain to attend the Festival de la Guitarra de Cordoba (Cordoba Guitar Festival) where she studied with world known flamenco maestros such as: Manolo Sanlúcar, Jose Antonio Carmona “Pepe Habichuela”, and Jorge Pardo. She underwent intensive studies at the Cristina Heeren Flamenco Foundation where she studied under renowned guitarists such as Eduardo Rebollar, Ismael Sierra, and Vahan Davtyan. Salcedo also studied at Amor de Dios flamenco academy with guitarist Joni Jimenez and with the famous guitarist Antonio Sanchez.
Tickets to Opening Night on February 23 and Closing Night on March 21 are $35 for general admission; $30 for students and Instituto Cervantes members. Tickets for the remaining performances are $25 for general admission; $20 for students and Instituto Cervantes members. Parking validation is available for all performances. Tickets for all shows are available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com.
Admission to all films is $5, with free admission for students and members.
For tickets to the concert at Old Town School of Folk Music, visit https://www.oldtownschool.org/concerts/.
About Festival Sponsors
The 16th Chicago Flamenco Festival is supported by Best Western River North Hotel, Illinois Arts Council Agency, Tourist Office of Spain in Chicago, La Taberna Restaurant, and Dot Press with collaboration partners Old Town School of Folk Music, Spain Arts and Culture, Fundación SGAE, and City Winery.
About Instituto Cervantes of Chicago:
Instituto Cervantes is an international institution founded by Spain to promote the language and culture of Spain and Hispanic-speaking countries. It is currently present in almost over 70 cities from 40 countries spread out in the five continents. The Chicago location opened in 1996.
In addition to regular language courses, Instituto Cervantes of Chicago holds monthly cultural events, such as its film and book clubs, plus an open-to-the-public Library with a specialty collection of more than 30,000 Spanish and Latin American books, magazines, videos, DVDs, music, and computer programs. The Institute also regularly collaborates with museums, galleries, theaters, publishers, and other cultural institutions from across Illinois, as well as institutions from Spain and Latin America.
More information about the Instituto Cervantes of Chicago may be found at http://chicago.cervantes.es.