The fourth annual VCU Flamenco Festival series began this Friday, Nov. 1. VCU Arts’ Department of Music in partnership with WCVE Public Radio hosted the first event, Flamenco Fiesta, at the Singleton Center for the Performing Arts.
The weekend’s festivities also included a Flamenco Virtuoso and Flamenco Master Class led by guitarist Ricardo Marlow on Saturday, Nov. 2, and Flamenco Finale, a performance by Marlow and flamenco groups Sueños Gitanos and Flamenco del Sur on Sunday, Nov. 3.
Headlining the Flamenco Fiesta event was flamenco guitarist Michael Miguelito Perez and his flamenco dance troupe. This was the fifth time Perez and his troupe had performed at VCU for the Department of Music.
John Patykula, assistant chair of VCU Arts’ Department of Music, said Perez is one of the important figures of the modern flamenco music scene in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
“He does what he can to ensure that flamenco thrives in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area,” Patykula said during the event. “He is always in the know about the latest news on Flamenco in the area, if he is not part of the news himself … it is an honor to have him perform here again.”
Perez, while not an alumni of VCU, said he enjoys performing at VCU and is pleased by the students’ and native Richmonders fascination with old music and intercultural folk music. Perez said he is unhappy, however, that flamenco does not thrive in Richmond as it does in Northern Virginia.
“I am glad that the students and the people here are so interested in intercultural music but I’m surprised that there are very few flamenco artists that come out of this school,” Perez said. “The few that are from here are often flamenco guitarists … I don’t know any flamenco dancers or singers that are from VCU or Richmond.”
Perez said he hopes that this will change over time as he and his fellow artists and supporters promote flamenco in Virginia. Perez said he also hopes that VCU will help promote the style of music.
“Flamenco is a beautiful genre … everything about it truly comes from the heart of the artist,” Perez said. “A lot of flamenco presentations are often improvised … the guitarist needs to be in unison with dancer, the dancer to the guitarist and the singer to both of them. It encourages creativity, musical harmony and passion.”