Friday, December 22, 2006

Robert Mirabal Concert

Last night, on the occasion of the Winter Solstice, I went to the Robert Mirabal Christmas Concert in the St. Francis Auditorium at the Museum of Fine Arts. Mirabal is a flute player (and also composer, actor, artist, flutemaker, etc.) from the Taos Pueblo, and he appeared with his brother Patrick and an incredible cellist from the College of Santa Fe named Michael Kott.

Last year on the Winter Solstice I attended Christmas Revels in Cambridge, and this made me think about the journey I have been on this past year, and how these two events were, in a way, symbolic of my transition. Revels is a very "Cambridge" kind of event--takes place in the Sanders Theatre, a block from Harvard Square. Almost everybody who goes knows the rituals of the occasion ("Welcome, Yule!", singing "Dona Nobis Pacem" as a round, dancing out into the lobby at intermission to the "Lord of the Dance"). Seating is on hard, cramped pews, every seat is filled, and the audience includes students, seniors, families, and lots of granola-types and native (or wanna-be native) Cantabrigians.

The Mirabal concert is a very "Santa Fe" kind of event--took place in the Museum of Fine Arts, a block from the Santa Fe Plaza. Many people had obviously been to numerous Mirabal concerts in the past, and recognized various pieces of music from the opening chords. Seating was on hard, cramped pews, every seat was filled, and the audience included students, seniors, families, and lots of granola-types and native (or wanna-be native) Santa Feans. (More turquoise, but just as many Birkenstocks....)

For those of you not familiar with Mirabal, click here to listen to a brief clip. Choose "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" to experience the terrific playing of both Mirabal on the flute and Kott on the cello. One of the interesting things about performing historical western music on the Native American flute is that each flute can only play in one key--about an octave and a half. So throughout the evening, Mirabal uses different flutes to perform different pieces of music, and there are significant musical challenges in transposing each piece of music so it can be played in its entirety on a single flute. The concert also included some traditional native music and spoken word pieces. He also introduced each piece of music by stating when it was composed, what year it was first published in the US, and what (mostly bad) treatment of Native Americans occurred that year.

Altogether a beautiful and inspirational evening!

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