Tuesday, 16 April 2013

'Gralla' Music and Human Towers …or Disover Penedès (Catalonia), April 19-21

Those of you who take interest in Catalan culture should not miss the woodwind instrument gralla and an especially good opportunity to listen to the music it produces – in parades and in concerts – is the Day of the Gralla Player (el Dia del Graller) in Vilafranca del Penedès during the weekend, April 19-21.

Gralles’, admittedly, have a quite strident sound and that is why they are so highly suitable for the activity where we hear them most regularly: when castellers build human towers. Since most people taking part in this must not look up and thus cannot see in which phase the construction is, the music played on the gralla (to the accompaniment of a drum with the name tabal) provides absolutely essential information.

Among the other Catalan cultural expressions where gralles are common we find the folkdances ball de gitanes, ball de valencians and moixiganga but also when giants (gegants) dance around in the streets here. The instrument might have received its name from a bird with a similar sound and has its origin in the same parts of Catalunya Nova where the castells tradition comes from, but it is now gaining new popularity as yet another national symbol for the whole of Catalonia.

During the coming weekend we are also able to listen to gralles “in action” during human tower exhibitions in Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf) and Igualada (Anoia). In Sant Salvador (El Vendrell, Baix Penedès) and in Vilafranca del Penedès there are jazz concerts, while in El Vendrell and Igualada you can listen to classical music. In Cubelles (Garraf) the weekend sees the peak of this year’s local Week of Culture. Full weekend event recommendations in English can be found here.

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Mona and Göran: In this week’s video we find Göran furious since a decision taken in the Supreme Court of Catalonia, would - if it is ultimately implemented - threaten the model of linguistic immersion which has been the pride of the Catalan school system since 1992.

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