Last Saturday was unlike any other Saturday. I won a free ticket in my Spanish class to go to "La Feria", a festival of Spanish songs, dance, tapas, cheese, ham and wine at the Jockey Club in Happy Valley, organized by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce. This year, they did something special. They invited various Spanish companies to join in in an event for "sampling" and "tasting" their best "jamon" (ham) from Spain. They call it "museo de Jamon" (ham museum!). We had ham which has been seasoned less than a year to three years. They were simply delicious, so rich in flavor and so tender that they literally melt in one's mouth. And of course, we had wine tasting. I tasted an "El Nido 2008 made with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon from a 30 year old vineyard in Jumilia and with 30% Monastrell from a 65 year old vineyard, basket pressed,and with fermentation in French and American oak barrels. It was very fruity. I like it. I got plenty of chance to taste their cheese as well.
Not only did I have good tapas, wine and other Spanish food, I had fun watching flamenco songs and dance. The music was provided by a group called "Sol y Flamenco" first formed in the HK in 2010 and is now the only purely flamenco band here.The guitarist Peeny Wong played really well. Later I learned that he graduated from the Fundación de Cristina Heerren de Arte Flamenco in Seville after three years and studied under such masters as Pedro Sierra, NIño de Pura, Paco Carte and Eduardo Rebollar. He played with fire and grace but above all, with soul. It also has a Japanese flamenco dancer Reina Tamaki who went to the same school and has been performing in Hong Kong since 2009. The drums and percussion was provided by De Kai, born in St. Louis, trained as a classical musician at the Northwestern University in Chicago and then went on to learn the "cajon" ( a kind of stool-like wooden sound box with a plywood front used as a drum in Spain, Central and South America and originated by black African slaves working in Peru who wanted to play African rhythms but must disguise their drum as a "stool" to avoid detection by their Spanish masters) and is now engaged in all kinds of fusion music. Finally we had Ingrid Sera-Gillet, a French lady born in Lyon, a ballet dancer and actress who first learned the flamenco "jondo" (deep song) and dancing in Paris in 1999 and then in New York and now teaches at the HK Academy of Performing Arts
The band singing with guest guitarists.
A guitar duet by the guest guitarists.
Flamenco singing. Not a solo affair. It requires a lot of mutual musical and emotional support from the group members from time to time.
The double bass player. I have seen him numerous times playing in various jazz bands. But this is the first time I saw him with a flamenco band.
The guitarist concentrating on his rasguaedo.
Ingrid sings with passion. Here sorrow.
The flamenco bird folding its wings.
Spreading out its wings.
Swinging her shawl
Ingrid sings another song after a short break and a change of clothes.
She taps her feet
She gathers her hands above her head before the explosion
She twists her hands and arms
She gathers them to one side of her body
She reaches out her hands
After all the songs and dances, she needs a drink
The audience was invited to join in dancing a "Castellana". The photographer beside me went up stage. She's enjoying herself.
Some children watching what's going on on the stage.
Some were asked to join in making some Spanish tapas! The children sure had lots of fun kneading the dough etc. So did I watching them.
And some Spanish students preparing for the International Baccalauriat in a famous Shatin school sure didn't want to miss the fun, the food, the drinks , the songs and dance.