The Cuenca Symphony is a wonderful treat in our cultural scene. They have about 55 musicians and their concerts are usually spread around in various venues in Cuenca and even some outlying towns. And, maybe best of all, the performances are FREEEEE!!!! Granted, their concerts are usually only an hour long, but who cares when it's FREEEEE!!! I love the fact they don't always perform in the same venue. It gives us all the opportunity to experience a cathedral, then maybe a park setting, or in a courtyard you never knew existed because it's tucked behind a facade, keeping it a secret.
The latter was the case earlier this month. They presented a tribute concert for the sixteenth anniversary of the Declaration of Cultural Heritage and the inscription of Cuenca in the book of UNESCO (world heritage sites). The setting was the beautiful courtyard of the Old Seminary San Luis, adjacent to the Cathedral. What made it so unique is, a few years ago the Seminary nearly burned to the ground!
During one of Cuenca's festivals, 'Globos' (sort of a cross between a kite and a hot air balloon) were lifted into the night skies by lighting afire dry material aboard the Globo. The hot air lifted the works of art into the skies and illuminated them at the same time. Stunning to watch. When the fires burned out, so did the lift, and the Globo would drift to the ground without any harm as the fires extinguished themselves before landing. BUT.....one Globo didn't do what it was supposed to do and ended up landing on the roof of the Seminary which was in the midst of being restored and just so happened to have part of the roof opened to the outside, exposing the dry timber inside!!!! Luckily, the fire department units saved the structure.
Back to the present. Like many structures around Cuenca, there are hidden gems the public doesn't know exists or has never seen. Because there are shallow tiendas (stores) lining the sidewalks, you don't realize there's something 'more' back there. You either have to be 'in the know', or hire a helicopter to fly you over the city so you can gaze down at all the spaces you've been unaware of. Then land, go find the 'magic door', and pound the hell out of it pleading 'open, Open, OPEN!!!!'
Oh wait, that was a Mervyns commercial from the 1990's.
Such is the case of the Seminary. So, you can imagine the public delight to be 'let in' to see the newly restored Seminary AND experience a symphony performance! The line wrapped around the corner with people anxiously waiting. The doors opened and everyone filed in and marveled at the beautiful gardens. As we moved along, I noticed inside a large room, waiters feverishly working on filling a couple hundred wine glasses and others arranging whores de oovers on platters. I wondered where the party was. Then, the line stopped and a lady made an announcement in Spanish. Those of us who didn't get in were trying to figure out what was going on. Some thought she told us it was a private party and we couldn't go in. But, that didn't make sense because no one had tickets so why did the first 100 or so get to go in, but not us? Some people left in a huff thinking they were mis-informed by the words 'public is invited' in the announcements, and by being turned away, apparently it was not 'public'.
I decided to wander around the gardens and admire the lighting, and took the opportunity to take stairwells to the unknown (after all, they weren't blocked off!) to admire the restored architecture. When I was about to leave, I noticed a group, who chose to wait it out, was being led into the concert (which had already started). I dashed over and joined them.
Well, here's what it all boiled down to. They had set up only a certain amount of chairs on the ground level where the symphony stage was located, and it had filled up fast. So, they decided to open up the decks that wrapped around the courtyard on the 2nd level for the rest of us. COOL!!!
All that wine and snicky-snacks were for US!!! Servers tray-passed wine and snacks amongst the audience during the performance. FREEEEEE!!!!
It was a stunning setting, under the night skies, in the renovated gardens of the Old Seminary San Luis. One more new experience for me to mark off the list. CHECK!!!
Now, for the photos and a couple of videos where THIS time you actually get to HEAR the music since THIS TIME I actually turned the microphone ON!!!
Disclaimer: I broke my camera, so I'm back to using an old camera (that Ellen DeGeneres personally gave me...thank you very much) but doesn't focus very well anymore. And, my tablet which I also use for photos and taking videos but, too, has lousy clarity. Add to that, it's virtually impossible to move the tablet and not have the video shaking all over the place!! Maybe I need to set up a 'GoFundMe' account to get a new camera!!! At least you can get a taste of the experience, abeit through gauze and 7.3 richter scale stability. Oh, and the sound quality....awww never mind, forget it.
|Waiting in line.|
|The banner translates to "Cuenca...with the people always"|
|One of two large courtyards in the Seminary complex.|
Video of the entry courtyard.
Click on the arrow to run the video, then click on the box in the lower right corner to make it full-screen.
|Look closely at the top of the photo, you'll see the blue domes of the Cathedral next door, looming over us.|
|We had to pass through this chapel inside the Seminary, to gain access to the wraparound decks overlooking the concert.|
|...And now, Ladies and Germs...The Cuenca Symphony!!!|
|The audience under the tents and the overflow on the balconies above. About 250 attended.|
....and now, a snippet of the performance (during an earthquake). Click on the arrow to run the video, then click on the box in the lower right corner to make it full-screen. Be sure to have your volume up!
I VAHNT TO BE A PLANT!!!!