2011 INTERNATIONAL PERCUSSION FESTIVAL
July 13th to 17th, the Longueuil
International Percussion Festival (LIPF) celebrated
its 10th anniversary with bash and panache and five days of
made-to-measure summer weather.
LIPF has become one of the most anticipated summer festivals
in the Province of Quebec thanks to its highly creative programming
team led by the indomitable France Cadieux. The numbers speak
for themselves: An erstwhile low-profile affair that initially
(2001) drew 5,000 visitors has spread its wings to accommodate
150,000 – and counting.
year’s fête featured, on successive evenings, the
music and culture of Brazil, Cuba, Guadeloupe and Spain. In
many ways it was an homage to World Music and its global influence.
Besides the main music-and-dance Lotto Quebec stage, there were
three smaller ones in the 5-block pedestrian area where you
could catch some of the local talent as well as a competition
of up-and-coming new groups.
the highlights from the main stage were Lazaro René and
Asere (Cuba), Maskakle (Guadeloupe), and for aficionados of
high culture, The Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company; they
put on a show that featured world class dance and flamenco guitar
(Nicolas Hernandez) to die for. What separates the merely good
dancers from the best are that the latter refuse to use castanets
to fill in for foot work they can’t provide. The group’s
four women dancers, either in solo or combination, along with
two wonderfully strong and affecting women’s voices, offered
highly engaging, original material that makes them wholly deserving
of their international reputation.
the competition stage, the group Surkalen rose to the fore with
a compelling playlist of original ethno-fusion music. The group
includes two highly proficient guitarists (from Chile), the
wonderfully clean and controlled voice of Sandra Ullua (Chile)
and the violinist Maria Demacheva who hails from Russia. To
better create their worldly sound, these multi-instrumentalists
incorporated the charango (similar to the lute), tablas and
the darbuka along with timely 4-part vocal harmonies the ear
couldn't get enough of.
year, the festival featured a second ‘paying’ venue
located about five blocks from the main site: L'Hôte Zone,
situated in a non-descript, treeless parking lot at Place Longueuil
(a local mall). The organizers were hoping to offset a growing
budget deficit the festival, which has been free since its inception,
has been accumulating. Despite huge names -- Normand Brathwaite
and internationally renowned opera singer Marie-Josée
Lord -- the attendance was disappointing, which was a shame.
That said, the group Insolita (along with Surkalen) represents
a major discovery by the programming team.
deserved an audience in the thousands, so technically proficient
and madly inspired was their combination of dance, percussion
and hypnotic rock. All 13 musicians and dancers are professionally
trained and can read the charts. It would have been evident
to even the least astute observer that they put in not weeks
but months of practice, resulting in a show that was as tight
as any Las Vegas act but with the inspired addition of some
agreeably brain-destabilizing, mean acid guitar and tougher
than leather, dead-on vocal harmonies. I’m predicting
that sooner than later they will be invited to play one of the
big bashes that take place at the Montreal Jazz Festival --
shows that routinely draw 100,000 people.
despite the slack attendance, the programmers shouldn’t
despair because the reasons for it are directly related to the
near-perfection of a festival whose home, from day one, has
been in Old Longueuil.
day two of the event, I met a couple from Argentina living in
Vancouver for the past 20 years. From among the sundry activities
that take place in Montreal during the summer, they decided
to celebrate their wedding anniversary at the Longueuil Percussion
Festival because they had heard (read) good things about it.
They were not disappointed. They described their day in Longueuil
as one of the best festival days they have ever had in their
lives: they loved every minute of it, the music, the vibes,
the international flavours, the impromptu dancing – and
of course it was all free. When I asked if they planned to visit
the L'Hôte Zone, they answered: “We’ve already
had a perfectly glorious summer day – a day which can’t
be improved on. Why should we leave perfect?” I hope you
are reading this France Cadieux.
that’s what the LIPF has become -- the perfect music festival
that has everything, except a beach, but lest we forget, the
polar icecaps are melting fast, which means Plage (Beach) Longueuil
is no longer a pipe dream.
LIPF is much more than the sum of the many concerts that take
place throughout the day everyday of the festival. If you’re
looking for tall trees, cool grass under the feet (and in the
air) and an ambience second to none, go no farther than Park
St. Mark where you’ll find a 19th century Church, a people-friendly
gazebo and the best make-shift African market scene north of
the Sahara. St. Mark is located in the heart of the 5-block
pedestrian zone which is perhaps the unacknowledged star of
the festival. The zone piéton features boutiques,
booths, tents, dance ateliers, artists at work, percussion jams,
mini concerts, and mini bars where you can meet up with the
hospitable locals who are comfortable in both French and English
and other languages. The zone is a magical miniature of the
spectacle of life in all its diversity as both ear and eye are
led from one happening to another, including the many open air
restaurants (Italian, French, Oriental, Japanese etc) that are
always packed and within view of one of the four music stages.
year, Mexico will be invited to share its remarkable art (murals)
and music that has informed both Country & Western and the
gaucho songbook of South America. And of course we're all looking
forward to Mexico's muy rico cuisine and the perfect
answer to a parched mouth on a hotter than July day: dos
Coronas por favor.
el proximo año.
you have already decided that Old Longueuil is where you want
to spend more time, don’t forget the FREE summer concerts
that take place every Friday and Saturday in
St. Mark Park.
June 23, Fête Nationale (St-Jean-Baptiste Day), featiromg
a legend in his own time, the inimitable
Michel Pagliaro (FREE outdoor concert St. Charles
Street, City Hall).
don't forget the FREE 2012 outdoor July 5th, 8.00 pm concert
featuring tenor Marc Hervieux and soprano Natalie Choquette
and the celebrated Longueuil
in Boucherville (Parc de la Riviere-aux-Pins,
551 Chemin du Lac).
filed by Robert J. Lewis