by Pitch Staff
Ensemble Ibérica’s artistic director, Beau Bledsoe, collects instruments from all over the world. He collects musicians, too. Bledsoe rounds up an eclectic core ensemble of guitarists, vocalists, and percussionists — local practitioners of Cuban, Spanish, Andean, Argentinian, and Mexican styles — as well as foreign guest experts like Mireya Ramos, of the Grammy Award-winning mariachi Flor de Toloache (who encourage the subdued, quietly respectful audience to launch gritos during the show). Through Ensemble Ibérica, Kansas City audiences are treated to this global stew of musical styles. Its concerts aren’t just about rhythmic patterns, scarves, and swishy skirts, though. Often based on folkloric practices, the performances project a mix of heartbreak and hope, a longing for a life left behind, pride and preservation of heritage. After the 2017 terrorist attacks in Barcelona, flamenco cantaor José Cortés Fernández sang with raw grief, unleashing what we all felt. Abroad, governments try to silence many of these voices, erase their history of oppression, spin a story of saviors and saints. The music Ensemble Ibérica assembles tells us the real story — the story of survivors — and reminds us how lucky many of us are.
Photo by Jeff Evrard