Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bay Area MultiCultural Weekend

1. In early California a “Fandango” was a gathering of neighbors – sometimes lasting for 2-3 days, sometimes all week. People would come to a a rancho, camp together, cook and eat good foods, play music, sing and dance. They might show and trade horses and other products – but mostly it was to enjoy the human experience.

Early artist rendition of Early California fandango

Every spring for eleven years the San Francisco music group 'Coro Hispano' has presented a musical Fandango – the joyful music of early California. The oldest adobe meeting house in San Francisco was found on the grounds of the Presideo Military base. Since 1989, after the base was decommissioned, the Fandango has been held here. (This year the concert was held in an adjacent hall as repairs were made to the adobe.) The concert is bilingual, featuring a wide range of musical styles, singers, and dancers. Sentimental ballads, songs of belonging and of longing, La Golondrina, the Corrido de Cesar Chavez, Cancion Mixteca…and much more!

Coro Hispano Announcement

Music has been and is an integral part of Latino culture – a vehicle for declaring love, for reporting news, and for empowering social movements. Latin American music has a proud tradition with so much to admire. The range of people who are drawn to the Fandango is as interesting as the music – the only common denominator is a love for this rich genre of music- young and old, Anglo and Latino. The director, Juan Pedro Gaffney, a dedicated San Franciscan, somehow gathers enough money each year to put on two concerts. The second concert occurs on 'El Dia de los Tres Reyes' … the 'Day of the Three Kings' in January. It included more early Spanish language music , religious music, and also more music of Spain and other Spanish speaking lands.

Cesar Chavez - one of the founders of the Farm Labor unions

… But at this concert we all sang out together the refrain commemorating the life and work of Cesar Chavez…

“En las ciudades y campos, (In the cities and farms)

La esperanza nunca muere; (The hope never dies)

Ya lo dijo Cesar Chavez (César Chávez said it already)

“Compaeros, se se puede!” (“Companions, yes we can!”)”

2. Just down the street from us is one of the major Thai Buddhist temples in North America. It is home to the regional director (Pramaha) and several resident monks.

Wat Buddhanusorn

Once a year the temple gives back to our community by offering a free Thai Classical Cultural Night with a wide array of delicious foods, traditional music and dance. It is a gala event and we have been invited to attend several years.

Dancers waiting to go perform

This year it was held last Saturday night, and it was memorable! Graduating Thai University students commit to come to live and work with the local temple to teach the traditional culture to the children of Thai immigrants. They can learn the language, musical and dance skills, and Thai martial arts.

Thai Food

When we arrived there was a long cafeteria style line up of food- mostly donated by local Thai restaurants… We were encouraged to fill up our plates with some familiar dishes like Pad Thai and Red Curry… but there are always new taste adventures too - and free to guests...


After dinner we were seated and the music began – Thai music is very different from the western tradition but pleasant to listen to. The music is played with a variety of percussion xylophone style instruments, stringed instruments, drums, gongs… and the music tempo and pattern is set by the leader who used a hand chime to change the pattern of the music. This video is very similar but we heard additional instruments as well. Example:

3. Links of the Week:

a. Please take a few minutes to meander through the files on The Encyclopedia of Life...To get started go to the "find" window - try entering "spiders" OR "elephants" or the critter of your choice:

b. We hear so much about unions in our news these days - It can be hard to find a fair and even discussion - here's one: I particularly agree with the last half of the article...

c. A new look at the post civil war era in America - and what it says about race relations today... Click on the triangle to listen to a brief radio rebroadcast