San Diego: SfN 2013 and Mariza!

In San Diego for the annual event of the Society for Neuroscience, SfN 2013, at the Convention Center here: the meeting really only started this afternoon, and doesn’t really get going till tomorrow, but tonight I had a ball! I’m staying in 7th avenue, a little bit out of the downtown area, and on my way back here (after taking in the afternoon poster session), I released that I was just around the corner from the Symphony Hall. So I wandered in, to see what might be on this week. And tonight was Mariza (whom I’d not heard of), singing Fado (which I had heard of, but not heard much of).

And oh, can she sing! Fado is really a genre for singing in a bar or a club, rather than a concert hall, but Mariza made the hall feel like a music club. I don’t know much about Fado, but the vocal style seems to me influenced by North Africa, and perhaps Sephardic music as well: the guitar, Portuguese guitar, and (semi-acoustic) bass guitar were wonderful accompaniments,  added to by a drum kit. The players are all themselves very accomplished musicians, but the start of the show was still Mariza. She had the audience in the palm of her outstretched hand. And the style, the style of this tall lithe girl with such expressive arms and hands, and the singing. The range, the ornamentation, and the silences, yes the silences, stretched almost to breaking point – to the point if the audience were wondering if it was the end, or… and the then the sining again. At one point she and the band went acoustic, but her voice was just as strong – stronger perhaps, if not as loud, stronger because of the immediacy of the unmediated sound. The audience gave her two standing ovations: what more can I say?

But one thing to add. A few weeks ago I was in Portugal, in a resort on the south coast, at a (different) conference. I didn’t really hear any Portuguese music there: I had to go 6,000 miles to San Diego to hear it! But it was worth it!

Tomorrow, it’s back to the conference!


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