Paul and Kathy’s Picks: Yamandu Costa


Recommendations and insight from President & CEO Paul Dornian, and his wife Kathy Dornian.

Evocative, colourful, spicy and pulsating are just a few of the many ways Latin music has been described. For me? Latin American music is seductive and sexy, plain and simple. And, I love a good tune. Toe tapping rhythms? That, too. Variety? Without question.

The Calgary Philharmonic has an amazing lineup of concerts this season but the Latin Fiesta is one that I’m particularly thrilled about. Calgary audiences are really in for a treat!  In four concerts, we will feast on such an incredible range of styles, instruments and composers ranging from one of my personal favourites, Piazzolla’s stunning Four Seasons, to Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances” from West Side Story,  in a Festival that also features Branford Marsalis, THE great saxophone legend and genius. What I think makes all of this music so attractive is its ability to connect emotionally with virtually anyone. Be it a classically trained purist or someone who has never set foot into a Classical concert, it is difficult not to be seduced by the energy and passion of this music.

By all means, take in all four concerts to fully experience the diversity and wealth of music, styles, instruments, and performers. But if I had to choose only one? YIKES! Choose between sea salt caramel chocolate and Brunello di Montalcino? Hardly. Okay. So a few years ago when Yamandu Costa first made his appearance in Calgary, I like most others in Calgary had never heard of him. I remember being tired that evening and uncharacteristically, not really in the mood to go to a concert. Still, I went. To this day, it is a concert I remember. An unassuming young man strode on stage with a guitar under his arm. Not your usual performer to be sure. He strode on stage, unexpectedly casually dressed with shirttails hanging out, as though he was about to play in a smoky bar. Then he started to play and from the first note, I was mesmerized. What I heard was one of the most riveting, moving and engaging performances that to this day is seared in my memory. I remember thinking that I wished all my students, indeed, that all of Calgary’s music students, were there so they could ‘get it’ and experience firsthand the communicative powers of music. I remember crying.

By all means, go hear all four concerts. But if you can only get to one, go hear Yamandu Costa.

Recommended ‘sides’:

Perhaps pre-concert dinner at Ox and Angela, a great Spanish Tapas bar on 17th? Last year I also discovered a ‘hidden gem,’ Blue House Café, a Latin American restaurant in Collingwood in the N.W. How about a glass of Pintia Toro post-concert? Did a lot of toe-tapping during the concerts? Consider a salsa class at Havana Cuban Dance Studio. Maybe a trip to Spain is calling? Talk to me. Paul and I spent a glorious 12 days last year in Madrid and Barcelona.

See you at Fiesta!

Kathy Dornian