Archive | January, 2011

Back to their roots: The Creole Choir of Cuba

31 Jan

After making a great impact at the Edinburgh Festival in 2009 and more recently at the London Jazz Festival, the Creole Choir of Cuba will be performing at the Barbican Centre as part of their first national tour. The group, who perform under the name Desandann in Cuba, the Creole word for ‘descendents’, came together to celebrate their Haitian heritage in song and dance. They sing in Creole, the language spoken by Haitian immigrants to Cuba, a mix of French and African languages. Almost a million people still speak Creole in Cuba. Continue reading


From Carácas to London: the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble

28 Jan

Since making their debut at the BBC Proms in 2007, the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble has wowed audiences with their energy and passion. Theirs is one of the few classical concerts where the audience knows that whooping and cheering is not off the cards. The ensemble’s 60 members did not grow up with a burning desire to grace the world’s concert halls with their musical talent. Instead they were fortunate to become part of the Sistema, a programme which has used classical music to tackle Venezuela’s social problems for over 30 years. The Sistema has helped turn thousands of children away from drugs, alcohol and gang crime by offering them free instruments and tuition after school. Thirty professional orchestras have sprung up as part of the programme, one of them being the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra created by its musical director Gustavo Dudamel, himself a product of the Sistema. The Venezuelan Brass Ensemble hails from Dudamel’s widely acclaimed orchestra. Continue reading

Juan Diego Flórez at the Royal Festival Hall

20 Jan

Juan Duego Flórez

Juan Diego Flórez, loved by opera amateurs for his looks, and classical music buffs for his exceptionally high tenor voice, is one of the most exciting opera singers around. The Times has described Flórez as “the most thrilling tenor of our age” and “one of the most extraordinary vocal phenomenons of all time”. Continue reading

Could Brazil’s landslides have been prevented?

18 Jan

Since the Rio de Janeiro region of Brazil was hit by severe flooding and landslides on 12th January after a prolonged period of heavy rainfall, more than 13,000 people have lost or abandoned their homes. From the towns of Nova Friburgo, Teresopolis, Petropolis, Sumidouro and Sao Jose do Vale do Rio Preto the death toll has reached 676. The rescue effort has been criticised as people have been forced to wait so long for food, medicines and water it is feared they may resort to drinking the muddy flood water. In Teresopolis the city council has been forced to bury the dead before they have been identified as the mortuaries are filled to capacity. Some remote mountainous areas have been cut off for five days, and it is feared that more bodies could be found there.

Teresopolis after a landslide on 12th January

But could these floods, or the level of destruction caused by them, have been prevented? Brazil’s rainy season is often aggressive with rivers bursting their banks and a certain number of deaths. In January last year heavy rains killed dozens of people living just south of the towns currently affected. More planning and management might not have prevented this disaster, as a month’s worth of rain fell in just eight hours, but it surely would have limited the number killed and left homeless. Continue reading

Spanish government right to distrust Eta ceasefire

16 Jan

Since September there has been much anticipation in Spain of an announcement from the Basque terrorist group Eta addressing a permanent ceasefire. But when the moment came earlier this week the promised truce was met with little more than disappointment as the Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero dismissed it as too heavy on rhetoric and too empty of precise detail. In their video announcing the truce, the three hooded Eta members made no mention of disarming or dissolving the organisation, which are two key demands of the Spanish government.

The video in which Eta militants promise a ceasefire

The Spanish are right to be sceptical after decades of ceasefires that have ended in nothing but further death and destruction. Since the 1980s after Spain’s transition to democracy, Eta has declared around ten ceasefires. Their ceasefire of March 2006, which they claimed would be permanent, was met with direct talks with the government, only to end in December that year when the group detonated bombs in Madrid’s Barajas Airport, killing two. In September last year, Eta announced an end to its armed offensive but the move was so weak the government refused to enter into negotiations. Continue reading

Gabriel Orozco on show at the Tate Modern

8 Jan

Later this month Tate Modern will open its doors for a retrospective of Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, the largest presentation of his work in the UK to date. Although Orozco is globally acknowledged as a gifted sculptor, this exhibition of over 80 works will also showcase the artist’s photography, drawing and painting.

A modified Citroen DS in La DS 1993

Orozco is known for his experimentation with both man made and natural objects. His alteration of the classic Citroen DS car to create La DS 1993, which features in the exhibition, is an early example of Orozco’s love of manipulating physical objects to produce something new. He sliced the car into thirds and removed the centre to exaggerate its streamlined design. But the most famous and striking of Orozco’s works is Black Kites 1997, a human skull on which Orozco drew a checkerboard pattern to create an unnerving memento mori, bound to turn heads at the Tate Modern.

Black Kites 1997

The exhibition’s curator, Jessica Morgan, has been following Orozco’s art since the two lived in New York in the early 1990s. She said: “Gabriel Orozco is an artist we have a long relationship with. Orozco’s work is playful as well as thought provoking and we hope the visitors will be as captivated by his limitless imagination as we have been over his two decades of work.” Continue reading

WordPress’s 2010 review: Hispanic London in figures

2 Jan

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 25 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 92 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 13mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 16th with 399 views. The most popular post that day was Hello world: Paraguay’s Ayoreo Indians at risk from outside contact.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for ayoreo indians, paraguay, ayoreo, ayoreo people, and felicitas.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Hello world: Paraguay’s Ayoreo Indians at risk from outside contact November 2010


About October 2010


A nation of nappers? October 2010
1 comment


El caganer: Cataluña’s crazy Christmas tradition December 2010


European premiere for Teresa Costantini’s Felicitas November 2010