THE SALON SESSIONS
This year we come over all enlightened with the Salon Sessions, a series of informal evening concerts held in the convivial setting of our own salon. Music from an impressive line-up of international classical artists lies at the heart but good company, good food, fine wine and general merriment are high in the mix. Join us for the very first, featuring self-professed Mario Lanza and Andrea Bocelli fan, the Dublin tenor Dominic McGorian, February 16. Details below.
Salons are enjoying a resurgence, perhaps as an intimate antidote to the overload and social disconnect of an internet era. The TED Conference, Moth Events, Salon London, the use of church spaces for secular gatherings across the USA, are all evidence of a renewed need for more social, shared experiences - and actual conversation! Sometimes an emoticon just isn't enough.
Like many great inventions, it's said they were born out of boredom. When the Italian Catherine de Vivonne, Marquise de Rambouillet arrived in Paris as a bride, she was horrified by the lack of culture in the city and set about creating her own entertainment and sought out intellectuals, musicians, wits and poets for conversation. Other high society women, twiddling their thumbs in their grand homes, followed suit. Paris became the epicentre of salon culture, and Les Grandes Dames des Salons Parisiens became the instigators and curators of the arts.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, salons were held throughout Europe. Gatherings of brilliant minds and prodigious talents in science, philosophy, arts and politics, were a catalyst for the Age of Enlightenment. They served as stepping stones on a tour circuit beyond the royal courts for writers and musicians including Mozart and Chopin. Those of Berlin, Vienna and Weimar (where Arthur Schopenhauer's mother, Johanna, and the Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach counted Goethe, Herder and Friedrich Schiller among their regular guests) were known for vigorous intellectual debate; conversations centred around philosophy and the emerging discipline of natural science. In Paris, gatherings become less frivolous than politically charged, as ideas of revolution were fomented.
England had its coffee houses, the first of which had opened in Oxford in 1650. While women weren't generally welcome, men regardless of rank were treated equally and invited to contribute to discussions on science and commerce, astronomy and mathematics. Known as penny universities (for the cost of admission and coffee) these were places where men could learn dancing, Italian and French and better themselves among friends.
In Spain, the tertulia served as a literary salon and played an important role in the country's culture from the 17th century to the Franco era when they went underground. Resistance to repressive regimes was bolstered by the solidarity of like-minded thinkers in the 20th century equivalent of the salon, and in the free world, it was the salons which gave us bohemians, art movements, and counter-culture.
So, nothing new, but we hope with our Salon Sessions we can go back around again, have fun, celebrate talent, spark debate, spawn ideas - and spend a bit more time in the golden age.
Feb 16: Dominic McGorian. Free to guests. Public welcome: Tickets are €35 and include food, drinks and shuttle transport from La Posada (Calle Fuentes, 49), El Gastor. Transport available from 19:30. Tickets can be paid for at La Posada on the day, but owing to limited availability, should be booked in advance. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our concert evenings are monthly. Following Dominic McGorian we will be featuring performances by the Alinde String Quartet (Italy & Germany) in March; opera singer Allegra Giagu (Australia) in April; and The Rahman String Quartet (Estonia) in May.
By June, we may have to fling open the doors to the terrace and extend the stage area for the 22 male singers of British a cappella group The Ramparts. And in July, for the Sao Paolo University Cello Ensemble (on their first tour outside their native Brazil) featuring eight cellists performing classical music with South American influences.
All events are open to the public. Details will be posted in the events section of the La Donaira website nearer to the date of each concert, as well as on Facebook and Instagram. Follow us so you don't miss out.