The Donahue lobby was adorned with skulls and colorful decorations this past Saturday night, along with a grand altar covered in ornaments and food at the center, a tribute to the spirits of those we have lost. People crowded into the lobby and the café to celebrate and enjoy tamales, hot chocolate and pan de muertos (bread of the dead).
El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), is a holiday celebrated by people of Mexican heritage that honors loved ones who have passed away. On Saturday night, the C. Walsh Theatre held Noche de Muertos: Welcoming Our Ancestors Home in celebration of the holiday. The performance included two different acts, Sol y Canto and Melodic Vision, followed by a reception in the Donahue building.
Even while sitting in a theatre on Beacon Hill surrounded by many Bostonians and Suffolk students, the Latin rhythms and melodies produced by Sol y Canto made it seem like the event was actually being held in Mexico. There was no star of the show, as each of the eight musicians brought something unique to the performance.
The guitarist and composer, Brian Amador, made beautiful acoustic sounds which alternated between accompanying the other musicians in upbeat instrumentals and harmonizing with his wife Rosie's distinct voice. The saxophonist/flutist's talent was apparent as all of his solos were intricate, yet seemed to come to him effortlessly. His jazzy Latin melodies had the audience dancing in their seats. The percussionist performed an impressive hand-drum solo, in which he used his fingers, palms and elbows to create complex and fast-paced rhythms. After nearly five minutes of the solo the audience exploded with applause. During fuller and more melodic pieces the pianist and upright bassist brought richness to the music.
Since 1994, Sol y Canto has created and performed beautiful Latin music, which brings listeners from many different cultures and generations together. There was certainly a familiar feeling encompassing the performance, as the band was founded by a husband and wife and each of the musicians has been a part of the band for a considerable length of time. During intermission it was wild to see and hear all the different people and languages present at the same event. It was nearly a metaphor for the band as the musicians hail from Peru, Argentina, the United States, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, and Panama. Sol y Canto's performance was a perfect tribute to El Dia de los Muertos, as they celebrated family and friends, alive or dead, through their music.
Melodic Vision included exactly what their name suggests: various images of Dia de los Muertos shown on a large projection screen accompanied by the group's music. While the photographs were certainly evocative, they were no comparison to the excitement produced by the previous performance. Susan Wilson and Rebecca Strauss, the women who created Melodic Vision, did a beautiful job of incorporating visual images of the holiday into a poetic musical performance. Noche de Muertos was a great success as it included many aspects of Mexican culture into one celebratory night, not only entertaining but educating the audience. It was no doubt a fiesta to remember.