Strumming cuatros and mandolins, parranderos from Voces Jovenes, Los Alumnos de San Juan, La Rueda Del Agua, Voces de Promesa, Renacer and La Familia y Amigos thrilled an intimate audience at UWI Senior Common Room, St Augustine, last Saturday. The theme was 2012 Parang: The Renaissance. The event was dubbed Vintage Parang Night. Wearing coloured shirts, parang artistes belted out sweet songs like Sereno. It featured a marriage of Spanish and English words and phrases which dealt with the annunciation (birth of Christ).
Women looked fetching in their flowing skirts enhanced with chunky necklaces. Among those enjoying the performances were UWI lecturer Rawle Gibbons, journalist Lennox Grant, cultural activist Pearl Eintou Springer, Toco councillor Terry Rondon and the Juanita Alcala household. There were treats like pastelles, black cake, empanadas, wild meat and provisions on sale.
In a previous interview (September 16) Michael Lezama, public relations officer of the National Parang Association of Trinidad and Tobago (NPATT), said they were experimenting with different breakout events instead of rolling into the stomping grounds like San Rafael, Los Iros and Paramin. To date, Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism donated $620,000. It was launched at Lopinot on October 6.
Asked what he thought about Vintage Night, Lezama said, “We were looking for a better turnout at the other events. It’s a start in the right direction. We are hoping this format would develop in a quick space. We have Vintage Night. It’s a different feel and a different approach to parang genres.”
Lezama added, “We are looking at the other events and how the crowd would respond. We don’t want to just have a parang festival. We want to make events like Champs in Concert work. We are trying to resuscitate some of the more traditional elements. We are having the instrumental competition. Today, some parang groups have amplified songs.”
Lezama feels more work needs to be done to bring young people into mainstream parang. He added, “We are bringing it to young people. We want them to have a better understanding of the parang art form. We have a lot of work to do particularly with the education of the groups. We need booklets, pamphlets, lectures and workshops. “Young people need to understand the history, musical format and genres of the parang art form. This is an exercise the new executive has undertaken. We are hoping it would be completed by 2013.”
Parang is a popular folk music brought here by Venezuelan migrants commonly called “cocoa peons.” They were primarily of Amerindian and African heritage. The word is derived from two Spanish words: “parranda” meaning “a spree or fête” and “parar” meaning “to stop.”
Among the traditional instruments are the violin, guitar, claves (locally known as toc-toc), box bass (an indigenous instrument), tambourine, mandolin, bandolin, caja (a percussive box instrument) and marimbola (an Afro-Venezuelan instrument).
Today, parang is especially vibrant in areas such as Paramin, Arima and Rio Claro. Parang connoisseurs can expect vibrant performances from Rio Suave, Los Alumnos de UWI, Los Dinamicos, Los Niños De Santa Rosa and other large and small community-based bands.
Tickets: $60. Final night $75.