December 20, 2014
BA honours tango master Aníbal Troilo
For The Herald
The City comes alive with concerts and exhibits for the musician’s 100th birthday
Almost a century has passed since Pichuco first set foot in this world, later to become one of the country’s biggest cultural ambassadors. Tango evolved into much more than just a music genre, it reached the status of landmark — a symbolic representation of a whole city, with its own depiction of the local characters that roamed the arrabal, with immigration’s constant underlying yearning — Aníbal Troilo rendered his own interpretation of this rich world, taking it all up a few notches.
Throughout this week, Buenos Aires celebrates one of its keycultural figures with a string of events, mainly based at La Boca’s Usina del Arte.
To better understand Troilo’s life and work, a conference fronted by Oscar del Priore and Horacio Ferrer will be held today at 2pm at the Usina’s Sala de Cámara. Del Priore may well be dubbed a tango specialist: he starred on several radio shows (the first of them on 1973), published many books on the subject and he has even been anointed a cultural distinguished cultural personality by the City government.
Ferrer is widely regarded as a tango icon: for starters, he presides the Academia Nacional del Tango; but he also wrote more than 200 songs — some of those alongside the unmatched Ástor Piazzolla — as well as some highly acclaimed poetry. What better way to understand Troilo’s life than through a couple of the epoch’s greatest historians?
Tomorrow at 7pm the Usina will unveil Ermenegildo Sabat’s tribute to the late bandoneonist with the exhibition Pichuco, interpretación gráfica de Aníbal Troilo. With his particular style (highly recognizable, to say the very least), Sabat renders a colourful account of Troilo, in the same way that he did so with other local cultural figures such as Piazzolla, Borges and Gardel. The artist will be present at the event.
At 8pm, the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) will bestow upon the late Pichuco a Honorary Professor degree, followed by a performance by the Nacional Buenos Aires Tango Group and Orchestra. Guest singers Vivi Berri and Caracol (Roberto Paviotti) will perform with Esteban Morgado’s quartet (comprised of Walter Castro on bandoneon, Quique Codomí on violin, Horacio Hurtado on double bass, Claudio Morgado on piano and Esteban Morgado on guitar/arrangements/conduction) as well as the 2013’s Tango World Cup winning dancing-couple Guido Palacios and Florencia Zárate Castilla.
On Friday (the day of the centennial per se) several activities are programmed at different venues. The Usina will showcase at 7pm the première of Martín Turne’s documentary Pichuco, a project aimed at revisiting Troilo’s work, taking as starting point the digitalization of 489 of his arrangements by Javier Cohen, a musician and professor of the Escuela de Música Popular de Avellaneda.
The Academia Nacional del Tango (Av. de Mayo 833) will put on display various photographs, documents and objects once owned by Troilo, courtesy of his family and the personal archives of Horacio Ferrer. This exhibition will be curated by Gabriel Soria.
At 8pm, the Palais de Glace (Posadas 1725) will host a promising milonga titled Troilo x 100, featuring the Quinteto Real and the Orquesta Típica Fernández Fierro, who will surely offer one of their highly energetic performances. But, as it takes two to tango, dancing-couples Julio Duplaá – Elsa Quattrocch and Juan Fosatti – Gimena Aramburu will be gracing the ongoing music with the genre’s emblematic moves. It must be noted that the venue will also host an exhibition of 20 bandoneons, in an attempt to compile tango’s history through what’s probably its better-known key instrument. Also in display will be the Fischer bandoneon, created by the luthier Oscar Fischer and almost entirely crafted in the country.
Back to the tango-coloured neighbourhood of La Boca, Usina del Arte will host at 8.30pm a special concert titled Gran Bandoneonazo, where young bandoneonists will share the stage with memorable musicians to pay a tribute to Troilo’s compositions. A savoury detail: the original bandoneon owned by Troilo will be used throughout the concert.
Pichuco would have turned 100 on July 11. It is extremely tempting to try and infer what he would think about the genre’s evolution and current state. The arrabal has changed, the slang terms have changed, the characters have changed and so on. Yet Troilo’s music still thrives in a city forbidden to forget him.
Today, tango has mutated, blending itself with other musical expressions, scandalizing purists and die-hard fans alike. But maybe, just maybe, that is exactly what the genre does, what Troilo did.
Tango — or is it BA? — constitutes the blending of different cultures, sounds and influences — the essence of this may be perfectly expressed in Troilo’s own words, when he said that “there is no old tango or new tango. There is only one tango. Maybe the only difference lies in those who do it good and those who don’t.”