Release Date: February 17, 2015
Source: Chronicle Journal
By: Michael Sobota
Orchestra, Caravan Get Groovy in a Great Way
The Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra (TBSO) together with Flamenco Caravan were the perfect catalyst to heat up our frigid February this past Saturday.
I attended the second of their sold-out concerts at the Italian Culture Centre, and they were hot, hot, hot.
Flamenco Caravan was formed in 1999. They have built an incredible repertoire of latin based music, along with an ever expanding loyal audience. Their music is exemplified by perfectly shaped rhythms, focused chording, soaring vocals, all punctuated with zesty percussion.
It is hard for your body to sit or stand still while experiencing their music.
Flamenco Caravan features the intricate flamenco guitar work of Esteban Figueroa and Tony Agostino (who also contributes accoustic guitar), the sometimes soothing, sometimes throbbing contributions of Greg McIntosh on bass and the always appropriate punctuation of Jim Differ on percussion. Lead vocals are contributed by Susanna DiGiuseppe. She is one of Canada's finest musical stylists, both vocally and on the keyboard. Her voice can sooth and seduce, pray and prey, engage and embrace you. Newest Caravan member is Matt Sellick, who adds additional rich and lavish flamenco embellishments to the band's overall sound.
What is that sound? Vibrant, electric, danceable. This concert featured mainly their own compositions, with rich orchestration written for a full orchestra. Our TBSO filled the hall with supportive muscle to the outfront heart-beating of the Caravan.
Guest conductor Jean-Michel Malouf guided the symphony musicians through several Spanish-themed orchestral pieces with great attention to detail and mood. But it was in his conducting of the orchestra in rhythm with Flamenco Caravan that he showed what a great conductor can do. He was both supportive and assertive, bringing out all the colours and dynamics of the layered latin sounds.
Watching Flamenco Caravan perform live was worth twice the price of admission. Their casual, careful glances to each other while hitting the cuts perfectly, smiling at a successful break or transition, encouraging each other on as the concert proceeded. These musicians like and repect each other and this was conveyed strongly in their playing.
How wonderful it was to hear Figueroa and Sellick, side by side, representing two generations skillfully performing this ancient, driving musical style that is flamenco, making it look so easy and tight. There were many, many wonderful numbers. The highlight, for me, were back-to-back pieces called Prelude to Grace and Grace, composed by Figueroa, Agostino and DiGiuseppe, and arranged by Rebecca Pellett.
For me, this was the best merger of the TBSO and the Caravan, showcasing all of their strengths.
Flamenco Caravan and the TBSO sold out two concerts in February in Thunder Bay. on nights when it was much easier to stay inside by the fire.
Together, they made fire we could all bask in. The TBSO should consider bringing this great Thunder Bay cultural phenomena, Flamenco Caravan, into a full concert as part of the Pops sereies, so we can hear them in the big hall.