Monday, 20 July 2009

FIMPT – Catalan Openness to the World

Small towns have a tendency to only turn up in national media when bad or sad things happen. With that in mind, Vilanova i la Geltrú has been very fortunate during the last few weeks, when Catalan TV and radio has made reports from the innovations fair Attic, the music festival Faraday, the new underwater laboratory and, this weekend, the giant exhibition and FIMPT.

In this entry I will focus on the latter, the Festival internacional de música popular tradicional – Vilanova’s annual world music festival – now celebrated for the 29th time. With my wife and children in Sweden, I have had a unique opportunity to explore the concerts, most of which are for free. It almost goes without saying that my favourite event was Flamenco singer Diego el Cigala, but I also enjoyed Omara Portuondo from Cuba and the Jaipur Kawa Brass band from Rajastan, India.

The concert by Al Tall + Tomeu Penya + Jan Maria Carlotti made me realize that I need to develop my understanding of the Balearic dialects of Catalan – much more difficult than Valencian. The fact that I did not get much of the songs in Occitan does not bother me yet. And, after all, I could have caused myself much worse problems, since I came excitingly close to the flying flags of the abanderats from Tortosa. Unfortunately, I never made it to the concert of the Tibetan monks, but did, at least, catch a sample of their music.

The concert with the name Lo Riu – the last part of a concert triology called SoCatalà by vilanoví Bienvé Moya and where the idea is create new songs with a traditionally Catalan sound – added a local touch to the ending of three highly international festival days.

To anyone who consider Catalans overly introvert when they stress that “Catalonia is not Spain”, I think that FIMPT shows Catalonia at its best; careful to point out its own cultural identity and its links with the Valencian community and the Balearic islands, but at the same time open to influences from Spain and the Spanish language sphere as well as from the world beyond.

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The graphic profile of FIMPT, made by Sebastià Serra, deserves to be mentioned. All pictures are based on embroideries and full of Vilanova references – the sea, the light house and the moon.

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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Vilanova

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