From our sustained curiosity about “THE ART of FLAMENCO,” we have developed this course. In this series we will offer historical and food-for-thought information to enhance your discovery of the uniqueness of flamenco music, whose genesis can be significantly sourced from the laudable values – fraternity, equality and liberty – that emanated from the French revolution.

Following the Medieval era (476-1453 a.d.) where the concept of the world was God-centric, the liberating ideas of the Enlightenment in the early 1700’s influenced the inhabitants of Europe. Eventually, this was to lead to emancipation of colonial yokes throughout the world.

The predominance of the “Románico influence” (not to be confused with the Romantic era) had its seeds in the authority of the Pope, its flowering in the monasteries that housed the literate, and its political branching with the power-over reality of feudalism. These circumstances produced swift changes in Europe – a social big-bang if you will – distributing romantic ideals via revolution and with significant levels of challenge to the status quo.

It is propitious that a totally new musical art form was born at that time in the region of southern Europe – Spain in particular. Its popularity was disseminated by travelers during what became known as the Romantic Era, creating what we now experience as flamenco. To understand the gestation of flamenco music, it is necessary to situate its place in the historical and social conditions found in Spain, in particular Andalusia, in the early 1800’s.

Its practitioners and adherents were those in the lowest societal classes: the enslaved and oppressed Romas, or gypsies, as that culture is known. Peasants and day laborers, and other disenfranchised social groups literally sang to illuminate the pains that daily life inflicts. Their sorrows are real and poignant. The parallels to the emergence of American jazz and blues, along with similar social factors of calling-out slavery and oppression, are not to be overlooked. By the late 1800’s, the centuries-long disenfranchisement of the Africans, the Muslims, and the Sephardim, along with the long shadow still cast by the Spanish Inquisition, were mirrored in the cultural milieu of flamenco.

Evolving visions of human relationships were forming, a consequence of the adaptation of the social strata to the new times that had brought about the Industrial Revolution starting in 1760. The new bourgeoisie, as an emerging economic power, began to introduce new tastes, opportunities and amusements associated with the evolving mores and values.

These changes were so wide-spread that a new model was produced of urban life. It was accompanied by other diversions leaving behind the more traditional, folkloric, and if we may, more simplistic. Peasants migrated to the cities, seeking better living conditions through factory work where there was need for a large labor pool. This created a new economic class, which was the proletariat, later to evolve into creation of the middle class.

New philosophical trends emerged as an expansive world-view began to take root, influenced by the emergence of new artistic expressions that were channeling their interpretation of the changes taking place in societies. At this time, Rebética music arose in Greece; in Argentina, tango; in Spain, flamenco.

“Music of the Oppressed: Flamenco in Historical Context” is our attempt to not only place a particular framework around flamenco’s past, but also to introduce elements of metamorphic collaboration for the future, in particular the links between Cervantes and Shakespeare and those between Federico Garcia Lorca and Leonard Cohen. Stay tuned!

FERNANDO BARROS, born and raised in Andalusia, has spent a lifetime delving into the history of Flamenco as a relatively new genre of music, having written two books on this subject. As a student, he learned to sing with the gypsies in the caves of southern Spain. His voice has been described as “beautiful. . .low in register but with a clarion brightness to it, and beautiful diction.” His compositions retain the complex and authentic flamenco rhythms, along with the spontaneity and pathos so true to Flamenco. He continues to explore Flamenco’s place in history and in initiating new collaborations sited above. He performs throughout the United States and in Spain.

MELISSA MOORE, born in Wyoming and raised in three distinct regions of the US, grew up in Memphis where her family was active in the Civil Rights Movement. She had the honor and privilege of being present at MLKing’s “Mountaintop” speech in April 1968. She is a life-long visual and textile artist, graduate of The Guild for Spiritual Guidance, and director emeritus of Desert Montessori School in Santa Fe. Together with Fernando, she co-authors, translates and presents their research into the artistry of flamenco, placing it in historical context for the inquiring mind.

Fernando Barros Lirola

Fernando Barros Lirola was born in Spain in 1952 and has performed in concerts and at Andalusian flamenco festivals around the world since 1980. He is a singer, composer, writer and historian who specializes in the unique cadences and rhythms that are the foundation of flamenco music. He has gained international recognition as an innovator whose voice and compositions reveal the “melody” inherent in Spanish literature and poetry. On the vanguard of integrating the traditions of flamenco with new approaches to teaching, Fernando is the author of “Flamenco en las Aulas.” He has contributed to dozens of periodicals, social media and websites. Fernando is a cultural ambassador from Andalusia, now based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As an invited member of the International Dance Council of UNESCO, he actively promotes the preservation of dance around the world. In exemplifying the rhythms and music that give life to culture, he performs, leads workshops, participates on panel discussions, and offers master classes nationally and internationally.



Metamorphic Transformation

Observing metamorphic transformations in nature allows us to extrapolate that method to humans and the arts. That is to say, the foundational substance becomes a supporting substance retained in the new identity. These essential elements are absorbed, now invisible to the observer, while the transformed form creates a stunning awareness of the new.

Likewise, our compositions make use of a similar pattern of creative mutation, if you will. We begin with folk songs that poet Federico Garcia Lorca chose, rescued from oblivion, transcribed for the piano and performed in various venues. Following a trajectory of revealing hidden elements, we submit them to an unexpected metamorphic process. The melodic essences of the old songs are those that give musical meaning to different poems that Lorca wrote.

Additionally, in his short life, he created diverse artistic works, including poetry, music, and literature. He also created formidable works for the theater, while also embracing other mediums such as painting. His contemporaries and artistic collaborators included Joan Miro and Salvador Dali.

“Lorca in the Keys of Hands and Voice,” a concert conceived and presented by Adam Kent and Fernando Barros, is a musical innovation inspired by Lorca’s example. Lorca collected melodies from the Spanish folklore repertoire and transcribed them for the piano using two different concepts: 1) adapting the old melodies to various of his poem, as for example, ANDA JALEO to the poem “Preciosa y el Aire”; and 2) singing the old songs using the expressive, emotive characteristics inherent in flamenco music.

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