October 2016 heralded 30 years of diplomatic relations between Spain and Saint Lucia—a significant milestone of cultural unity, arts, heritage and ways of life, despite language differences. To further honour and celebrate this anniversary the Embassy of Spain in Saint Lucia will host a concert at the National Cultural Center on Tuesday, November 22, featuring the riveting Jorge Pardo Jazz Band. What better way to celebrate unity than through the universal language: music. Earlier this week Jesús Lavalle Merchán, Chargé d’ Affaires at the Embassy of Spain Consulate in Saint Lucia, sat with the STAR to give his take on the historic event.
What is the main purpose of the event?
Merchán: As you know, this year Spain and Saint Lucia are celebrating the first thirty years of diplomatic relations. One of the objectives for Spain in the Caribbean is to promote cultural actions that are considered an exchange of cultural experience between local and Spanish artists. That is the reason why we decided to celebrate with a big concert doing something that is completely new here in Saint Lucia; that is Jazz plus flamenco.
Is this the band’s first visit to Saint Lucia?
Merchán: It is. This is one Spain’s best jazz bands. Mixing jazz with flamenco is something different. Jorge Pardo, the band’s saxophonist, has also been awarded the Best European Jazz Artist 2013 prize. He is coming with three other persons, a group of guitarists, drummers and a Spanish flamenco dancer. I think it’s going to be a very interesting show because with music, flamenco and dance, they are going to grab and hold the public’s attention.
How will non-English-speaking musicians connect with Saint Lucians?
Merchán: All the activities that have been organised by the Embassy of Spain tried to connect the local artists with the Spanish ones, and the local traditions with the Spanish ones. We have participated in Nobel Laureate week. We have also participated with the Embassy of Mexico and the French Alliance in International Women’s Day, which gave local artistes the opportunity to express themselves at the National Cultural Centre last March. And now with this action we want to connect a musical tradition that already exists here. We have been successful in other activities and this will be the same.
Will there be any local performances?
Merchán: No, not at this moment because we haven’t got a lot of time. The singers and the musicians are arriving on Monday morning. At the beginning maybe a local artiste could perform together with them. Nevertheless, they are really interested in having a meeting with the local artistes who are interested in jazz and the flamenco before the concert and probably with the students from the School of Music.
What does the Embassy hope to achieve by bringing this event here?
Merchán: We consider that amongst the celebration of the thirtieth anniversary, the relations that could be considered as a cultural
present of the government of the embassy of Spain to people of Saint Lucia. That’s why we are really interested that all the people interested in the flamenco, jazz, and music should be at the National Cultural Centre on Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. – No administration.
What ministries or stakeholders are involved in putting the show together?
Merchán: One of the things we have been considerate about, is that the concert is sponsored by the National Corporation Agency of Spain and also by local companies and institutions. We have to thank Saint Lucia’s ministry of culture, the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association and the Cultural Development Foundation. Also, we want to thank local companies such as, J. Bergasse and Northwest. I am also grateful for the support from the Minister of Culture.