Reinier Baas: Black Narcissus | Youtube: Aad van Nieuwkerk

Bach’s Brandeburg Concertos

In 2011, the Orquesta Barroca Sevilla received the national music award. One of a series of national awards given by the ministry of culture each year, it is in recognition of outstanding or innovative contribution to Spanish cultural life over the previous twelve months. In principle, it is an award which can be received more than once, but in practice it has rarely been - soprano Montserrat Caballé was recognised in 1982 and 1988.

The orchestra is therefore among an elite to have been honoured in this fashion. As the name suggests, the orchestra specialises in the Baroque era from roughly 1600 to 1750. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos are considered to be among the finest orchestral compositions from that era, and these comprise the programme of the orchestra’s concert in Palma.

Tuesday, 7pm, CaixaForum, Plaça Weyler 3, Palma.

Jazzing it up!

The Alternatilla Jazz Festival has established itself as a significant element in the island’s cultural scene in the low-season months. From now until December 8, there will be thirteen concerts, an aspect of the festival being that the venues are all over Majorca. As well as Palma, this means Porreres, Llucmajor, Muro, Sant Llorenç, Pollensa, Sa Pobla, Inca and Esporles. There is also a concert in Mahon.

Each edition of the festival has had a featured country. Cuba is the country for 2021. The past ones have been Spain, Portugal, Poland, Norway and the Netherlands. The opening concert for this year’s festival is a unique occasion in that it brings together musicians from those countries. They are all female musicians - the Alternatilla All-Woman Jazz Band - who highlight the growing presence of women in the world of jazz.

Kika Sprangers (sax, the Netherlands), Cecilie Grundt (sax, Norway), Aga Derlak (piano, Poland), Marta Garrett (vocals, Portugal), Blanca Barranco (double bass, Spain), and Laia Fortià (drums, Spain) make up this band.

Wednesday, 8pm, Teatre Principal, C. Riera 2, Palma

Es Refugi Christmas Market

For thirty years there has been a Christmas market that has assumed as much importance as the grand street markets of Palma and elsewhere in Majorca. The Es Refugi Christmas Market is run by the Es Refugi charitable association, which attends to the needs of people at risk of social exclusion.

At the Refugi Pare Gaspar Aguiló in Palma, there are - among other things - five community rooms with forty beds, a dining room and fully equipped kitchen, and three washing machines and dryers. The house provides a series of services to improve the daily lives of the users, and it - along with other work that the association undertakes - needs funding. Which is where the Christmas market comes in, as it makes a contribution to this funding.

Flea market, antiques, vintage items, plus clothes, books, a grand tombola and a bar/restaurant. These have all characterised the market over the years. Affected by Covid in 2020, it is back and at its traditional venue.

Friday, from 11am, La Misericordia, Plaça Hospital 4, Palma. (Also Thursday and Saturday.)

The Great Irish Songbook

You could say that the Irish folk group Dervish hit their lowest point in 2007 when they represented Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest. They came last with five points. You could alternatively say that they reached their highest point in 2019 when Mark Radcliffe handed them the award for lifetime achievement at the BBC Folk Awards.

A traditional music group, described by the BBC as an icon of Irish music, they started out life in 1989 as The Boys of Sligo. The name change came after singer Cathy Jordan joined the group in 1991. As Dervish there have been twelve albums, the fourth of which was a live one. With 22 tracks in all, it shows that the band has a strong connection with Mallorca. The title was ‘Live in Palma’. It was recorded in front of an audience at the Teatre Principal.

Accordion, bodhran, bouzouki, fiddle, mandola and whistles; Dervish have stuck to their traditional roots, their most recent album being ‘The Great Irish Songbook’, a collection of their most iconic songs and which will feature heavily on their return to Palma.

Saturday, 8pm, Teatre Principal, C. Riera 2, Palma.

Dijous Bo!

As fairs go, they don’t get any bigger than Inca’s Dijous Bo. More than just a fair, it is a social occasion - one for the whole island. While certain Covid measures continue to apply, Inca town hall has wanted this year’s fair to be as normal as possible, and this includes events on Dimecres Bo, the Wednesday - DJs in the bullring and pop/rock bands at the General Luque Quarter.

The fair’s traditions are rooted in the land, and so major attractions are the animals, including the Majorcan black pig, and the peasants’ market. These roots, so it is said, go way back to the middle of the thirteenth century and donations by Pere I d’Urgell, the ‘Senyor de Mallorca’, which helped create the famous Thursday market.

The first documented reference to Dijous Bo wasn’t until 1807. It came from the chronicles of a nun, Sister Clara Andreu i Malferit. There was one special Thursday “market”, according to Sister Clara, the timing of which was linked to the fiestas for Saint Luke and All Saints and to fairs in Pollensa. This was Dijous Bo. Good Thursday is a translation, but there are other meanings, one of which implies the scale and size of the fair.

Thursday, from 9am, Inca.

Honey and Olives

Two fairs this weekend are dedicated to produce of the land. In Llubi, it is the Honey Fair, which will feature sampling of sobrassada with honey accompanied by mulsum, an ancient wine and honey beverage that dates back to Roman times.

In Caimari, it is the Olives Fair, an occasion for this village within a village (Selva) to showcase what they say in the village is the finest olive oil in Majorca, if not Spain. There are olives as well as oil to be sampled, and an added attraction is the appearance of the local pipers with the ‘Carboners de Caimari’ bigheads.

A village tradition, which only died out at the end of the 1960s, was that of charcoal burning. The carboners were the charcoal burners. The oaks at the foot of the Tramuntana were what the carboners cherished.

The memory of the charcoal burners is kept alive at the Caimari Ethnology Park, where there are examples of the kit that was used and the ‘barraca’ huts in which they lived during their spring and summer season of labour.

Sunday, from 10am, Caimari and Llubi.