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A Bardic Tale of Changing Seasons on South American Paths - Part 1


A Bardic Tale of Changing Seasons on South American Paths - Part 1 - "The Beginnings till the 1st Celtic Festival in the 80's" by Eliseo Mauas Pinto----
Dearest friends of old, greetings to all of you... keepers of the green scent of myth, watchers of legends, beloved weavers of ancient tunes in tapestries of acoustic tones and pulse, from now on I’ll quotate and reassemble myself to reveal to you the insights of experiences lived, what I’ve done and struggled for in this far away corner of the world। This is my story...
I’m a laddie who first took contact with the wonderland of legends while searching his celtic based roots at the age of nineteen years old। It was in 1981 when I fastly began to get more and more related with the Mythical Realms of Faerie -all size dwellers of woods, hillocks, water and air-, those appearing as iridiscent beauties or as crippled old men with hunchbacks; bats, caterpillars, stones, even gusts of wind. After growing up as a keen faerie mythologist, plunged then into the magic of folk music. Engaged with medieval and renaissance scores I continued performing soprano flute for two years till the end of l981, when a sudden move of my musical senses drove me forward to celtic styles. On the spiritual behalf of Robin Williamson then got aware of his Incredible String Band and his contemporary folk fussion tunes. Ocasionally Planxty’s first album dropped in my hands, and afterwards Robin’s Merry Band ‘American Stonehenge’. These came to pass at a time when the music of the celts was hard to find in Argentina, and were no folk based local bands either. One day I’d managed to get Chieftains first album at the Irish Embassy which made me mutter the word ‘feadog’(gaelic for ‘whistle’) While ordering a whistle and tutor book via Robin, I instantly felt it was time to play this stuff ,yearning for a blow through some traditional airs. Months later after night and day solo performances in my room, I looked out for a partner and found him within a local Scottish Piping Band. It was in 1984 when an irish descendant joined us with a bodhran made by himself, and finally decided to line-up a band named ‘Ceolta Gael’, performing only in some irish gatherings amongst people who never had the idea of what a whistle was.



It was on August 31st of 1985 when I managed to organize a Celtic Festival at the Fahy Club…(featured on pic above) an Irish gathering place, where I performed with Ceolta Gael for Ireland, and also held a conference on Celtic Culture along with a galician descendant Manuel Castro, and of course with Miguel Cosentino Cormack too. This festival was historical since it was just the 2nd organized in Argentina.since the very 1st was held in the 1960s. Also took part The South American Piping Asociation (Scotland), Centro Arzuano Mellidense (Galicia) and Conjunto Pelayo (Asturias)
By those days grew up my interest on celtic history and literature, but found few traditional activities within communities in Argentina, except an independent group of irish girls called ‘Celtic Argentina’ who danced tape-wired jigs under the direction of a local teacher. What to the Scots refer, they held three Piping Bands and Dancing Corps, they’ve allways loved what they do, but found few who considered themselves as celts, nevertheless, they did preserve some ‘sense of belonging’ to Alba and held activities (not the case of the irish, who also have no uillean piper performing among them; maybe that’s why we can still find irish pipers and dancers as members of scottish centers).
Welsh people are almost settled down in the Patagonia -Southern Argentina-.Cities like Trelew, Gaiman, Trevelin are crowded with descendants since 1834. Luckily they preserved their language and tradition -specially those lovely puddings-. They have no harp players (neither the irish or the scottish have) but do preserve an unstrunged tripple harp at a musem in Gaiman and they love choruses. On each Eistedffod some nice songs in welsh can be heard in Trelew.
Galician and Asturians people came from Spain, and have many descendants in Argentina. My roots are galician based, and many Bands of Dancers and Pipers from Galician Centers are often to hear performing, they also have lectures, teaching of the ‘galego’ language (romanic language with over 100 words in ancient celt) As for the Asturians, they held only two Bands of Dancers and Pipers. Either way these people are conscious of their celtic heritage and teach youth followers.
These brief aspects of communities above related hadn’t changed too much since my first contact in 1984। Maybe this fact accords to a theory of my own, which considers two kinds of emigration. The emigration with hate, that tries to forget its terrific past; and the other, the emigration with sorrow, which tries to settle down in foreign lands an extent of a beloved culture they’ll never forget. We should also consider at this point, that none is a prophet within his own circles, and some celts are reluctant to accept thoughts or even teachings given by celts who belong to a different branch (e.g.: irish/galician).


….. to be continued
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