Foot Stomps and Flamenco Guitar in the Hall

Pablo Medina

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Pablo Medina

Josué Tacoronte plays his flamenco guitar.

The strong pounds of footsteps, the catchy rhythm of the drum box, and the soft strum of the guitar strings all culminated to bring an entrancing performance in the recent Jewel Box.

The talents of classical guitarist Josué Tacoronte, percussionist Javier Saume Mazzel, and dancers Claudia Pizarro and Jose Torres combined to create a spectacular performance, visually and audibly.

Tacoronte, Cuban-born and raised in Mexico, is the latest composer to contribute to the Jewel Box Series. He began his performance with the works of Cuban composer Leo Brouwer and Argentinian composer Juan Falú, starting with a piece from Brouwer called “Un dia de noviembre,” which translates to ‘a day of November.’ His technique on Flamenco guitar is finely crafted, displaying the characteristic feel and sound to the Spanish genre. The rustic elegance to his strum and melodic movement paint a warming image of the Spanish land and culture.

“I’ve been able to know many great musicians and friends, and through them, I was invited to play a complete show here,” Tacoronte said. “This is my first time being here in the United States.”

For his US debut, Tacoronte played through 11 compositions, seven of which involving only him and the guitar.

“I love Flamenco very much, because it brings out the complexity of the guitar,” Tacoronte stated. “The pieces from Paco de Lucia, probably the best guitarist to have existed, I consider to be very great.”

Each composition was played with varying expressions in sound, ranging from soft harmonic chord strums, to intense string picks. Every soft element in the music – all-climaxing to an aggressive and rhythmic shuffle – can make anyone sway to the performance.

For four distinguished performances, Mazzel’s complex percussion accompanied Tacoronte’s more playful pieces, enhancing the vision of liveliness and flow to the music.

In three of those four performances the dancing styles of Pizarro and Torres, two principal dancers in the Ensemble Español, were presented along with the music, displaying graceful flair and intense footwork from the dancers.  Each dancing performance was a change in color and outfit for both dancers, from bright and full shades of red, green and white in “Alegrias Flamencas” to the pure tight black clothing in “Asturias.”

“One thing compliments another, I believe a song without dance and a dance without music would not be very fun,” Tacoronte said about his collaborations. “The rhythm, the dance, the music and the voice, everything must combine to make something very beautiful, for the people to enjoy.

During intermission, Tacoronte spoke of his surprise to the Chicago snow that fell during the afternoon.

“It’s very cold here, and I hear the temperature is going to fall even lower,” Tacoronte said. “The humid weather that I am used to, I feel, is very comforting for me.”

By the end of the performance, the show went on all cylinders with percussion and dancing alongside Tacoronte’s guitar playing, culminating to a climactic finale to the event with Brouwer’s “Danza Caracteristica.” A large applause with standing ovations greeted the conclusion of Tacoronte’s show, with all members on stage taking their bows.