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El Guitarrazo!

El Guitarrazo
October 22, 2011
Potter Auditorium, Halifax

The soul of Spain set the heart of Halifax ablaze last night as the 6th annual Atlantic Flamenco Festival sparked to life with a spirited soiree of six-string stylings.

Despite the genericy of the venue - a lifeless university classroom with a small stage - festival founder and artistic director Maria Osende warmed and welcomed the mid-sized, multi-cultured, all-age audience with intimate and informal introductions.

Local guitarists Joey Latta, Bob Sutherby and Daniel MacNeil then each performed short sets, stirring showgoers and setting the stage for the evening's headliner Jose Vega.

Relaxed and with his hair tied-back, the Cadiz-born Vega showed why he is a cut above his cohorts. Accompanied by both dancer Miguel Tellez and vocalist Maria Mezcle, the flamenco-master displayed his flare and finesse for the frets, letting loose with an array of strong and soft Spanish selections and sweeping attendees through a myriad of emotions for nearly 30 minutes.

Osende joined the trio for the final number - a fiery piece that saw herself, Tellez and Mezcle dancing, singing, shouting and clapping-hands (palmas) - the performance came to a colourful climax, with the quartet sending off to a standing ovation and offering a glimpse of what flamenco lovers can expect next Friday at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium as part of the festival's main event, De Espana Con Amor.

Aspiring artists can also take advantage of Vega's time here in the city with his two flamenco master-classes; today from 4.30pm-6pm and Tuesday from 7.30pm-9pm at Halifax Dance in the Maritime Centre. ~ Stephen Patrick Clare

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