Monthly Presentations 2020/2021 Season

In accordance with government recommendations as of 17th March 2020 all physical meetings are cancelled until further notice. However, from September 2020 we intend to present an on-line programme of monthly presentations using Zoom. Further details will be given here as they become available.
Members not familiar with Zoom can find a number of introductory videos on YouTube

September to December 2020
Thursday 3rd September
Chile Top to Bottom
This will be a Zoom presentation by society members Alan and Maureen Stephens. Invitations will be arranged nearer the date.

Thursday 1st October
Paradors of Spain: culture, heritage, charm and elegance

An illustrated talk, in Powerpoint using Zoom, by Society member Richard Swaine. Invitations will be arranged nearer the date.

This talk will cover why and how Spain, using the verb Parar (To sto`p, to halt or to stay) created a description that implies quality and sophisticated tourism by establishing “The Parador”. What were the driving forces and what part was undertaken by the Monarchy?
There are about 100 Paradors throughout the country, clearly very high class hotels that demonstrate the established culture and heritage of Spain and its offshore islands. Paradors, that are not ’new build’ are mostly located in former castles, convents, palaces and monasteries often many hundreds of years since their buildings began.

The talk will dwell on those Paradors that the speaker regards as having significant charm and elegance. However, many members of the Society will have visited or even stayed in one or more and the talk will invite contributions from their experiences so please be prepared to share your impressions and experiences with each other after the talk..

Thursday 5th November
A presentation by Toybox a charity committed to ending the global injustice of street children

Record levels of inequality, violence and migration mean children are forced to live or work on the streets, escape abusive homes, or end up on the streets after being displaced or trafficked.

The UN estimates the number of street children globally to be in the hundreds of millions, but there is an absence of accurate official figures. These children are invisible to the world, living without rights or protection.

Toybox started working in Guatemala City in 1992, and we are still there today, working with children who have been plunged into the chaos of living or working on the streets. From working in one country with one partner we are now working in five countries with six partners.

Toybox began when a couple were prompted by their Christian faith and decided to act. Today we continue to act motivated by that same Christian faith to see a world in which no child is forced to live or work on the streets.

followed by

The International Brigade and Earnest Hemingway

A short talk by member Lyndon Palmer

The talk will start with a brief résumé of his life (in English) but the majority of the talk will be a presentation about his Spanish Civil War activity, in Spanish with an English translation.

Thursday 3rd December
An eclectic evening of entertainment including quizzes, games, songs, music and poetry

7pm start - logon via Zoom link sent out by Mike

Charades - hosted by Nigel Taylor

Quiz - hosted by Alan & Maureen

Songs & guitar - Malcolm Peake

Comic book quiz - hosted by Richard Swaine

Singing - Caroline and Josie

Feliz Navidad - Rona

You will need pen and paper to participate in the quizzes

Make sure to have a glass of something to celebrate

The evening's entertainment should windup around 8:30pm

January to July 2021
Thursday 7th January
Galicia, the Spanish Celtic Land an illustrated talk by Laura Rodriguez

Romans thought Galicia was the end of the world when they discover the beauty of Finisterre, something the celts were trying to keep from them. Throughout the centuries, civilizations were enchanted of the beauty of this land in the left corner of Spain. This year we are celebrating the Xacobeo, which marks the glorious holy year and celebrates the discovery of the tomb of St James in Santiago Cathedral. Nowadays, pilgrims from all generations walk from all over Europe through the Plilligrim Way, which its well- known routes finish in Santiago, the capital of Galica. Submerge yourself on the beauty and magic of Galicia, the Spanish Celtic Land.

Laura is a Spanish and French teacher in UK and former journalist in Galicia. She moved to London in 2012 where she has been promoting Galician culture through multiple events like the Galician Film Forum and the Galician Literature Day. She moved to Portsmouth last year and she is looking to spread the love for Galicia and her knowledge in this amazing and maritime city.

Thursday 4th February
Spain, South to North, the Roman way an illustrated talk by Paul Gillingham

‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ scoffed John Cleese in the Monty Python sketch, ‘The Life of Brian’. Plenty, discovered Paul and his son Joseph, who cycled 800-miles the length of Spain early in 2019, following the Roman Via Augusta and the Via de la Plata from south to north.

Thanks to this ancient Roman route, their journey took them through changing landscapes, off-the-beaten-track villages and the great cities of Cadiz, Seville, Merida, Salamanca where the Romans more than left their mark with aqueducts, theatres, circuses, thermal baths, bridges and roads.

After Zamora they head into the hills of Galicia along the ancient Camino Sanabres towards Santiago de Compostela. Fortified by a final dip in the thermal Roman baths at Ourense, they eventually reach Santiago to offer thanks for their adventure at the non-Roman shrine of St James

Paul taught history in UK, Canada, Tanzania and Hong Kong before becoming a journalist and broadcaster. He began his broadcasting career as a TV newsreader in Hong Kong in the 70’s (Youtube: Paul Gillingham, HK TV), returning to UK as a TV presenter, and went on to produce travel features from around the world for BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Classic FM. He has written many articles on travel and a book, ‘At the Peak: A History of Hong Kong Between the Wars’ (Macmillan, 1983).

The highlights of his career include: a spell in the Swedish Merchant Navy, a month in a Rwandan refugee camp during the genocide, meeting Ginger Rogers on Broadway and interviewing, among others, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Quentin Crisp, Little Richard and the sons of Martin Luther King and Benito Mussolini

Thursday 4th March
Os fenómenos (The Phenomenals or The Aces) directed by Alfonso Zarauza, introduced by Laura Rodrigez.

Laura is carrying out research into Spanish women who emigrated on their own to the UK in the 50's and 60's and will introduce the movie to give a context of the women's rights nowadays in Spain and the Feminist Movement. This year International Women's Day falls on Monday 8th March.

The title "Os Fenómenos" (The Phenomenals or The Aces) refers humorously to a crew of construction workers in Galicia, a region in northwest Spain. They work for an unscrupulous construction company that builds blocks of flats centering on profit and skimping on quality. The company also skirts labor laws by paying its workers under the table. In spite of the exploitative conditions, some in the crew have managed to save enough money to aspire to better things such as owning their own living quarters.

Neneta, a mother that has just separated from her companion Lobo, is looking for ways to survive. She lives in a trailer and moves near her mother so that she can take care of the baby. For lack of other opportunities, she becomes part of The Aces, the only woman in the group. Hers is a "man's job," so she faces surprise (and some harassment) but she is soon accepted.

All of this ends with the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008 that slows construction to a crawl with dire consequence for workers, in particular for The Aces.

This movie brings to mind the best work of the Ken Loach or the Dardenne brothers (not that there is any attempt at imitation). Its view of the working class is realistic and unsentimental. It does not romanticize or judge the characters; their flaws and virtues are in view. Neneta's determination to provide for her baby and improve her living conditions endears her to the viewer, but she is also capable of being irresponsible and manipulative. We learn enough about each member of The Aces to give them individual relief as human beings and we are thrown intriguing hints; for instance, Neneta seems to be more educated that she lets on.

Script by director Alfonso Zarauza and Jaione Camborda is witty and brisk, and has been skillfully put on screen by Zarauza. Lola Dueñas and Luis Tosar play Neneta and Lobo to perfection, and acting is excellent all around. Cinematography by Alberto Díaz captures the cloudy, melancholic wintry Galician landscapes with the typical rias (vast indentations of the coast caused by ancient flooding of river valleys) in the background. A movie worth watching.

With subtitles

Click here to view a two minute trailer (without subtitles)

Thursday 1st April
Ser Argentino by Oliver Stone, Head of Modern Languages, Portsmouth Grammar School

Oliver provides an insight into Argentina and its society. Oliver has lived and worked in Buenos Aires, travelled extensively throughout the country and has many close friends there. He ran a specialist travel company for ten years and continues to run the Department of Modern Languages at Portsmouth Grammar School.

Thursday 6th May
Andalusia – the Hidden and the Quirky An illustrated talk by Alan Borrow

A twenty one day trip which we made in the autumn of 2018 where we endeavoured to leave the normal trail and avoid the tourist hotspots! Starting and finishing in Murcia, our circular route turned up many surprises, some classic renaissance grandeur in the towns, spectacular Pueblos Blancos, dramatic and lofty castillos, and rugged but such natural beauty in the Sierras. We took the opportunity to try some Paradors, both old and modern and an agricultural eye was always absorbing the different crops, Almond, Olive, Grape, Salad and Cotton.

Thursday 3rd June
Portsmouth Spanish Society AGM including a guitar recital by Andrew Richardson

I am looking forward to sharing some more Hispanic guitar music with everyone. Music can often be recognised as from time and place. The programme I’m planning includes music from as early as 1546 in Seville contrasted with a piece written in response to the Cuban missile crisis that is definitely 20th century.. I’ve always been interested in how compositions may have been influenced or inspired by music from different cultures and world events and this will form a loose thread of my presentation. The musical tour of South American countries includes Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina before returning to Spain. The second part of the presentation will be a demonstration of the six ’Spanish’ guitars in my collection and the differences between them. The evening will conclude with questions which I will do my best to answer.

Over the past year I’ve added over 100 videos to my YouTube channel; mainly educational and quite a few of the ‘solo ensemble’ kind where I create the impression of a guitar orchestra by layering multiple tracks of me playing each element of the music score.

This is an example of an early piece inspired by my time living and teaching in Portsmouth.

And here’s a movement from a Vivaldi mandolin concerto.

AGM Timetable
18:30 - Zoom session opens.
19:00 - AGM starts
19:30 - Guitar Recital
I would like to share my thoughts and give a flavour of my presentation in advance so that I can begin the evening with little introduction. We can often recognise music as being from a time or place. The programme for 3 June includes music from as early as 1546 (Seville) contrasted with a piece written in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis that is definitely 20th century. A number of pieces from South American countries include Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina before returning to Spain. The general theme of my programme is ‘Influences’. When choosing pieces two types of influence stand out.
  • External influences on a composer; inspiration; an existing folk tune; a world event. Many composers will have already written or be planning a pandemic influenced piece!
  • Cross-culture fusion. Before the rise of recording technology, the movement of people around the planet had a huge influence on music and culture. Thousands of years of movement of people in and out of Spain has given Hispanic music an incredibly rich, varied and significant place in global culture. Often when musical elements from Spain and Africa, say, are mixed together the results have so often been greater than the sum of the parts. This is when fusion is at its best.
Part 1. A programme to include:
  • Spain
    • Mudarra - Fantasia X
    • Tarrega - Capricho Arabe
  • Cuba
    • Brouwer - Elogio de la Danza
  • Brazil
    • Reiss - Xodo da Baiana
    • Villa-Lobos - Choros No1
    • Villa-Lobos - Prelude No2
  • Venezuela
    • Lauro - Venezuelan Vals No3
  • Argentina
    • Piazolla - Milonga
  • Spain
    • Albeniz, M - Sonata in D
    • Albeniz, I - Prelude (Leyenda)!
Part 2. Six Guitars of Spanish Tradition. All similar yet all different!
Demonstration will include different styles and share some thoughts on Spanish influences on broader western culture through popular songs and instrumental pieces.
Questions and answers
To close the recital: Anon. - Spanish Folk Song (Romanza)
20:45 - AGM AOB and close.

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Please note we do not meet during July and August

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