Peña Flamenca Torres Macarena – the story behind the venue
Artists such as Pies Plomo, José de la Tomasa, José Domínguez ‘El Cabrero’, ‘El Chocolate’, Manuel Oliver, Pedro Bacán, El Chozas … joined this group of fair-eyed little by little.
La Peña is called Torres Macarena because its first headquarters was located on Torres Street in the Sevillian neighborhood of La Macarena. Endowed with statutes, La Peña gradually established itself as an important Flamenco rendezvous venue , thanks to its first concerts and its activity in Seville’s cultural life.
The year 1975 is marked by the success of the show ‘Ecos de Torres Macarena’ in the intimate and well-known Lope de Vega theater, where cantaores and tocaores performed, all artists from La Peña. The performance was greatly received by the press and radio. Membership requests rose tremendously, as expected, and the location soon became too small. In 1976, with very modest financial means, it acquired a larger premises on Calle Torrijiano nº 29, which today is still the headquarters of La Peña. The opening ceremony was a cultural and festive moment whose success was widely commented on by the media. The album Noches de Torres Macarena, produced by La Peña, remains a testament to this exceptional year.
With more space and more beautiful surroundings, and with well-established administrative structures, La Peña now offers, every year, a program of recitals through which the best singing and dancing artists have passed, from Fosforito to José Mercé, from Matilde Coral to Pepa Montes. In addition, under the initiatives of the successive presidents, projects such as the annual Youth Saetas Competition, the Youth Flamenco Singing Competition, the Youth Guitar Competition, the Youth Dance Competition, the Fandangos Singing Competition were developed. Events are organized such as the Centennial of the Birth of Manuel Torre, marked by the first flamenco mass in La Peña; the Centennial of Manuel Vallejo, sealed by the edition of a book, both with the collaboration of the City Council; the tributes to Antonio Mairena (who inaugurated the first headquarters on Torres Street), and Tomás Pabón; cycles with conferences and singing such as the one dedicated to the Triana neighborhood, and each year it holds the tribute to Pastora Pabón, the Niña de los Peines. The social vocation of the Peña is not forgotten and exchanges are organized with other peñas such as Huelva, La Plateria in Granada and Juan Breva in Málaga, among others.
In 1988 the first issue of its Arco Flamenco newsletter for the social body was published, in which the members analyzed Flamenco issues and recounted their Flamenco experiences, and which came out more or less quarterly. Flamenco meetings, another initiative of this Peña, was organized around themes related to flamenco, as well as that of facilitating the venue for the Macarena District for a dance workshop, later expanded with singing and guitar workshops. Meanwhile, despite its scarce resources, works have been undertaken to improve the aesthetics and function of the Peña premises.
Today, the place has a recital room with about 120 chairs; it must be emphasized that it is a place where flamenco is respected and listened to with veneration, where it is sung without a sound system, where artists are surrounded by the public due to the set up of the stage thus fostering audience interactions; It is traditional for the artist to end his/her recital with a cante “a palo seco” – singing without guitar (toná or martinete). For this reason, winning over the public of this demanding Peña, where there are always well-known artists, is an important goal for all artists, especially for young people.
Article 2 of the mandate of the Peña highlights the philosophy of the Peña, which remains the same as when it was established regardless of the personality of its various Boards of Directors:
“… and, above all, take care of, promote, protect and promote our flamenco singing, look after it, rid it of impurities, return it to its true reality.”
The main lines of action of the Peña emerge from this article:
- Maintain and spread flamenco as an authentic culture. In this sense, it is necessary to underline the increasingly frequent collaboration – and necessary – with the local Authorities, which constitutes a de facto recognition of the cultural role of the Peña Torres Macarena in Seville.
- Defend the purity and orthodoxy of flamenco singing through recitals with established artists, through research, conferences and colloquia with the participation of the best-known flamencologists and with the permanent role of the partners.
- In the recital room, the decalogue of good flamenco reminds us of how the fan behaves according to this philosophy.
- Promote and spread flamenco culture, especially with young people thanks to youth competitions and through cultural visits by numerous schools organized in collaboration with the County Council. In this regard, it should be noted that well-known artists have made their first steps in this Peña: José de la Tomasa, Esperanza Fernández, Isabel Bayón among others, and the replacement by young talents of singing, dancing and playing seems assured
In 2014 La Peña went through hard times since, for reasons having to do with license, there was an attempt to close our doors but it was remedied not without great efforts by the all the partners uniting, as never before, to make sure this did not happen. Numerous artists joined in this cause and lent their support
The end of the millennium has been marked by a series of brilliant activities in commemoration of the Peña’s 25th anniversary, which for years has been a must in the world of flamenco.