Paco Díez is a sort of musical magician. Multi-instrumentalist, he is one of the great ambassadors of Iberian and Sephardic music. His museum in Mucientes (Valladolid), Spain, houses hundreds of instruments he can play.
Díez will bring her unique gifts to UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday, March 1 from 2-4 p.m. at Mosher Alumni Hall for “Love and Other Affairs: Poetry and Music (Spain, Latin America, Latinx US, and Sephardic)”.
Díez will be accompanied by Anthony Geist, Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at the University of Washington, who will present the 10 poems that Díez will perform.
“Paco is an extraordinarily talented musician who has dedicated his life and work to the preservation and dissemination of traditional music from Spain and Portugal,” said Geist, a UCSB alumnus who grew up in Santa Barbara. . “He is internationally recognized as one of the greatest interpreters of the Sephardic ballad. This project deviates from his usual concerts, in that he carefully read the poems and set them to music of his own composition.
Díez and Geist chose 10 poems by Spanish, Latin American and Latinx poets, as well as two traditional Sephardic poems kantikassaid Geist.
“I translated them and will read them in the original Spanish as well as in English,” Geist said. “All the poems are about love: love for another person, love for a landscape, nostalgia for a lost or distant love.
“Audiences will hear a wide range of poems by 20th-century poets,” he continued, “which I will present and read, and Paco will sing in his captivating baritone voice. We hope that they will be moved by both the original texts and the English versions, as well as by their musical interpretation.
Geist met Díez in Spain around 10 years ago and the two quickly became good friends. Since then, Díez has served as Artist-in-Residence at the UW School of Music twice. They designed this poetry/art project about food and wine, Geist said.
“Poetry carries music in its DNA,” he said. “In a pre-literate world, all poems were sung, from Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ to medieval ballads and into the 20th century in some parts of the world. Paco reconnects these texts to their ancestral musical origins.
The event is co-sponsored by the UCSB Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Department of Global Studies, the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, the Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies, the Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, the Center for Portuguese Studies and the Latin American and Iberian Studies Program.