Saturday, June 29, 2013

Catalonia's Concert for Freedom, tonight, all over the world

Lluís Brunet Palou
Photo art by Lluís Brunet

Tonight, in FC Barcelona's massive stadium in Barcelona, more than 60 groups (comprised of more than 450 artists!) will sing in a concert called “Concert per la Llibertat” or Concert for Freedom in support of Catalonia's desire to hold a referendum on independence from Spain. It sold out faster than Bruce Springsteen, though more seats were opened up afterwards behind the stage. Almost 100,000 will be in attendance.

Music has a long history of political action, both within and outside Catalonia. @MoltDeleros tells me that "for many years, lyrics with hidden meaning were the only way to defend our country and our way of being". The songs in the concert, he says, mostly come from poetry, some Catalan, some not."

@KatdeCanFanga tells me that there will be artists of all ages, some like Lluís Llach, himself a symbol of the pro-independence movement, have come out of retirement to sing. Here is a rough translation of Llach’s “Tossudament alçats” which the crowd is encouraged to sing along to:

Firmly on our feet
We are here, firmly on our feet
proclaiming the name, the time, and the place
that we grieve and that is ours,
if you want, with our fists open,
if necessary, with our fists closed,
so that the dream we share can come true. 
From the very beginning and free of the past
people from all over allow ourselves the right to write the future
thinking that this old country
maybe holds the key
that can help us go farther, toward learning the art of life.
The Concert per la Llibertat was organized by Omnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly. Many news outlets have published the complete list of the participants and the songs they'll sing.

TV3 will retransmit the concert live on huge screens all over Catalonia as well as via Internet. It will also be broadcast via radio. Groups in Québec, London, Brussels, Santo Domingo, Paris, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Edinburgh, Lausanne, and Cologne will gather to watch it together.

Yesterday, on El Món a RAC1, the presenter and guests talked about who would be there and who would not. Indeed, representatives from all of the major political parties except PP will be there and the Catalan government is sending a delegation (minus the president who is at his daughter's wedding).

The leader of the Catalan branch of Spain's ruling Partido Popular, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, however, said, “Today's concert is a concert about rupture, exclusion, and division of all Catalans,  and the Partido Popular will not allow it.” She then likened the concert to a witch's coven (!).

Some of the musicians have complained about receiving pressure not to perform at the concert. Dyango, a well known crooner famous for singing “Suspiros de España (Sighs of Spain)” said “he had received threats of all kinds”. When question about that song in particular, he said that he had sung many love songs in his day, and hadn't meant all of them literally.

Concert-goers who bring a non-perishable food item for the Food Bank will receive a commemorative bracelet.

In the end, as @KatdeCanFanga says “People are really happy because they/we want to shout again for #independence, like we did on September 11, 2012.”

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