Alvaro Meza

alvaro meza

Seen on July 10, 2016 @ National Arts Festival, 2016

Making your choice from the extensive programme at the National Arts Festival is an art in itself. You can enjoy what you already know and what will be good or you could let yourself be surprised by both local as international artist who offer their hard work and art for you to enjoy.

Unfamiliar with Vallenato, I wanted to learn more about this traditional music from Columbia. Assuming that artists invited from so far must have something special to offer I booked my tickets for the Sunday afternoon show at the Thomas Pringle Hall. I was not the only one. Recognizing other music lovers in the audience on the last day of the festival we knew we were in for something special, a party of some kind as Colombia’s Vallenato king leads the dance. The music has four different rhythms: puya, son, paseo and merenque and is played deep from the soul and the heart. Together with the accordeon (Meza), there is an electric bass (Héctor Ochoa, whose speed is phenomenal), caja (a drum made of hollow wood and goat skin, played by Orlando Rojas) and guacharaca (a piece of ribbed sugarcane or bamboo, scraped with a fork made of hard wire – Jorge Montano). All musicians in their own right who sing along, explain the songs, but most of all keep the party going. The four men shine in their roles, deliver fantastic solo’s, and support the songs of the master himself. When they announce that this music makes people dance in Colombia, it is too be waited if the South African audience will take up the challenge. At least one elder couple does, they have come all the way from Mexico and can’t sit still. The music is so energetic, passionate, virtuoso and charming.

Needless to say that an encore was asked for.