by Mario Carrión

Sponsored jointly by the Library of Congress and the Embassy of Spain, organized by Ellen Echeverría, a professor of Spanish literature at George Washington University, with the cooperation of Henry Jova, the event titled Flamenco as a Cultural Expression was presented in the Montpelier Room of the Library of Congress on Friday, May 9, 2003.

The program consisted of a classical musical introduction, four informative dissertations about flamenco folklore, poetry and bullfighting, and a live flamenco performance.

After some welcoming remarks by Georgette M. Dorn, Chief of the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, and Carmen G. de Amezúa, Minister for Cultural Affairs of the Embassy of Spain, the Post-Classical Ensemble, directed by Spanish Conductor Angel Gil-Ordóñez, played The Bullfighter's Prayer by Joaquin Turina.

Then, Henry Jova, a knowledgeable expert on the flamenco folklore, made a presentation about styles, development and history of flamenco folklore; and Ellen Echevarría spoke about the interrelation of poetry and flamenco, since many of flamenco songs use the words of well-known poems as lyrics.

Next, the retired matador Mario Carrión, spoke of bullfighting as a plastic art, while images of his performances in the arenas were shown on several screens placed throughout the auditorium. Then, the matador concluded his presentation, highlighting the fact that flamenco performers have found and still find artistic inspiration in bullfighting for the themes of their songs and for the steps of their dances. Frederick Bush, an American diplomat and great bullfighting aficionado, closed this instructive part of the program, by relating his experiences in the bullfighting world when he lived in Seville, Spain, in his capacity as Commissioner of the United States Pavilion at the World Expo-92.

After a brief intermission, the live flamenco performance took place, in which the 'cantaó' "Cuquito de Barbate", guitarists Henry Jova and Jesús Serrano, and dancers Anna Menéndez and Edwin Aparicio gave an inspiring flamenco recital, performing a varied samples of flamenco folklore with art, grace and passion.

It could be said that in the evening of May 9, the Montpelier Room of the Library of Congress of the United States was an auditorium for the playing of classical music of Spain, a stage for the display of flamenco art, and a bullring in which bullfighting was explained.

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