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Dr. José García-León

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. in the Marvin K. Peterson Library 

"Merging Diversities: The Rise of Flamenco"


From Byzantine chants to Judaic and Sephardic recitations, from Moorish intervalic patterns to gypsy and Indian melismas, from Andean instruments to African and Caribbean polyrhythms, from Middle Eastern sensual dances to Iberian and Celtic folk music, flamenco art forms truly are a merging point of widely diverse cultural and artistic expressions. This paper discusses the defining characteristics of flamenco music and dance, and draws specific connections to the many traditions in which flamenco culture finds its far reaching roots. Flamenco music, dance and poetry, first developed in Andalucía, in the Southern part of the Iberian peninsula. Andalucía is in a privileged geographic situation in that it serves as a pathway from Northern Africa to Europe, and at times, by extension, from the East to the West; as well as by way of its long maritime tradition and cultural ties, from Spain to Latin America. Its enclave, and the distinctive blend of peoples that have left their imprint in the area or have made it their home, have contributed to this poly-faceted artistic expression that gave birth to flamenco. The worldwide popularity of flamenco nowadays is evident by the large amount of festivals and events that celebrate its legacy and variety outside of Andalucía. This has partly happened due to flamenco's ability to enrich itself by absorbing other styles without losing its own identity. While flamenco musicians and composers are very aware of their heritage and traditions, flamenco does continue to evolve in surprising and fascinating ways; continually opening paths to new blends and cultural collaborations, with styles as varied as blues, jazz, rock, hip-hop or even atonal art music. In the last part of the paper, I discuss some of the prominent current trends and how the multiculturalism of flamenco continues today if possible with ever greater force.

Biographical Information:

Pianist José García-León is a first prize winner of numerous national and international competitions, including the Artist International Competition of New York. He was born in Seville, Spain. After graduating with highest honors from the Conservatorio Superior de Sevilla, he moved to New York where he completed a Doctorate in Musical Arts at the Manhattan School of Music.
Dr. José García-León has performed widely as a solo recitalist, most notably at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in New York, the Great Hall of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, the Saint Petersburg Music Festival, the Soulahti Summer Festival in Finland, and the Marienbad International Festival in the Czech Republic, as well as in Ireland, Thailand, Chile, France and throughout Spain. His recordings have been featured on national television and radio in Spain, the United States and Southeast Asia.

Dr. José García-León currently serves as Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and is an Assistant Professor of Music. 

Dr. José García-León's web page.