Tango music draws from many influences

Fourth annual Victoria Tango Festival plays this weekend

Norteño plays Sunday night at Alix Goolden Hall as part of the 2011 Tango Festival.

Tango music arose from a clash of cultures, and true to its roots, Victoria’s Tango Festival will blur the line between tango, jazz and Latin American music.

“There’s a big crossover in Buenos Aires and other places between Latin music and tango,” said event co-ordinator June Waters. Dance floors in Argentina will vary between the dance styles, giving everyone a chance to get up and dance, she said.

Local group Kumbia, known for helping to start the salsa scene in Victoria, will perform, giving audiences a chance to listen and dance to their tango and broader repertoire.

“We also have a jazz concert this year that has jazz, jazz-tango and tango in it, because … we’ve got a fabulous musician who is a world champion harmonica player that isn’t bound to one (style),” said Waters.

The annual event, in its fourth year, has a mandate to increase live tango music in Victoria.

While many people think of tango as a style of dance, this festival is about the music.

The style of music started in the culture clash “that began in Buenos Aires in the late 1880s,” said Waters. A large immigrant population contributed influences from Cuba, Italy and other countries. “It was their grief and longing for their homeland that was expressed in the tango music. Then it was transported to Europe … and it continued to evolve.”

Composer and musician Astor Piazolla changed the genre radically in the 1970s, drawing on an existing movement by tango musicians.

“They didn’t want to play just dance music. They wanted to go further and develop and expand it,” said Waters. Piazolla’s music was intended for concert halls, rather than dance halls. It’s his style, called “tango nuevo” that inspires the festival’s headliner this year, Norteño.

rholmen@vicnews.com

 

Mark your calendar

The festival runs Aug. 12 to 14, including a range of free and paid musical and dance performances, workshops and an open dance floor. Centennial Square also features food, crafts and vendors. Norteño, the headlining performance, plays Sunday at Alix Goolden Hall at 8 p.m. Tickets are $28 at the door.

Check out the schedule at www.passion4tango.com.

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