Thoroughbred Champions

Last weekend, the Campionat de Mallorca de Cavalls de Pura Raça was staged in Lloseta, a Mallorcan Championship of purebred horses of Pura Raza Española (Spanish), Arabian and Pura Raza Hispano-árabe (Andalusian?) pedigree. The championship is now in its 10th year; for the last three years, it has been staged in Lloseta. Some 130 fine horses were entered this year by a total of 50 breeders from Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca and mainland Spain. The winners qualified for participation in the Campeonato de España, to be held later this year in, I think, Sevilla. The competition was divided into 29 categories (race, age and sex) and there were 37 winners. Zeus Li was the winning champion stallion in the Pura Raza Española category, whilst Enerba de Martet was the champion mare. In the category Pura Raza Árabe, Kandinski was the stallion champ and Abha Quartz the prized mare.

Enhorabuena. Congratulations.

The photos were taken in Lloseta, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 29th, 2011. The time was 14:35:27 and 15:03:00, respectively.

Thoroughbred Champions

The Palacio de Ayamans

I don’t think that I can envisage many reasons why one should go to the pueblo of Lloseta unless one wants to buy cement or shoes. Or unless, many moons ago, one would have wanted to dig for coal. But, wait, there are a few more reasons, come to think of it. One good excuse to come to Lloseta would be the Palau d’Aiamans (Palacio de Ayamans, the Ayamans Palace), probably one of the most splendid private houses on the island, albeit a feudal, aristocratic one. Aristocracy in Lloseta, however, was synonymous for despotic autocracy for many centuries. During the 17th century, the then Conde de Ayamans and Lord of Lloseta is said to have run an oppressive reign of terror on his serfs and also, on his wife. The poor woman fled from the Conde‘s tyranny and sought shelter in a convent. But, the Count would not allow his wife to escape and went after her, storming the nuns’ cloister. Once seized, the wife was incarcerated at home until the unlucky woman was eventually murdered by some bandits.

The palace in Lloseta is famed for its extensive suites of rooms and for its splendid park-like gardens. The palace gardens used to be open to the public during weekends but, sadly this is not the case any longer. Except, once a year the Palau d’Ayamans is accessible to you and me and everybody else. This coming weekend, June 4th and 5th, Lloseta will hold its annual Fira de sa Sabata, the shoemakers’ fair, when the palace will be the centre point of the fair ground and access will be granted for two days only. You should not miss the opportunity.

The Conde de Ayamans also had a town palace in Palma, better known as Ca Gran Cristiana which now is the seat of the Museu de Mallorca.

The photo was taken in Lloseta, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 29th, 2011. The time was 15:20:50.

The Palacio de Ayamans

Pedra de Binissalem

In Mallorca, three different stone categories of substance are traditionally used for the local architecture, Marès (sandstone), Piedra de Santanyí and Piedra de Binissalem. The latter is often called Mallorca’s marble. Technically that is not a correct terminology; the Binissalem stone is rather a crystalline granite with a high proportion of quartz. It is usually of grey or beige colour with a considerable number of quartzite veins. The high density makes the stone very durable and thus, it is used in the construction of stairs, steps, curbstone, flagstone paving, fountains, columns and window sills. This weekend, the pueblo of Binissalem celebrates its Fira de la Pedra de Binissalem i l’Artesania. Activities will go on all day today from 10h00 to 20h00, including a Mostra de Cuina (food fair; 12h15 to 16h00) as well as an art and crafts fair. Some wine treading will be performed at 11h30, together with some dancing of the local Gegants (giants). At 12h30, the Confraria de Cavallers de Sant Jordi will parade their beautiful black thoroughbred stallions of Pura Raza Mallorquína through the town centre.

As luck would have it, the local Bodegas José L. Ferrer celebrate their 80th anniversary this year. A new ecological range of organic wines will be presented, aptly called Pedra de Binissalem (D. O. Binissalem). A policy of Open Doors will mark the 80th anniversary. You are invited to pop in for some wine tasting (10h00 to 14h00). If you can’t make it to Binissalem today, I understand that Open Doors activities will actually continue for some time, if not for the rest of the year. Check locally for details or telephone 971.511.050.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 28th, 2010. The time was 14:58:37. The photo (centre) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of eventosenmallorca.es.

Muchas gracias.

Pedra de Binissalem

The Landed Manor of Els Calderers

The country estate of Els Calderers near Sant Joan is one of Mallorca’s old possessiós (Manor Houses) dating originally from the 13th century. Today’s main house was built around 1750. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the estate was one of Mallorca’s biggest bodegas (wine producers) with vines being cultivated on large parts of the 800 cuarteradas (roughly 1,500 acres) making up the landed manor.

Nowadays, the main building and some of its land is open for visits. Els Calderers is now presented like a museum of the lifestyle of the upper gentry during the 18th and 19th centuries in Mallorca.

In a number of outbuildings the old bakehouse, the laundry, the smithy and the carpenter’s workshop give a glimpse of some of the old Mallorcan traditions, as do the chapel in the main building, the wine cellar and the upstairs granary.

On the grounds, autochthonous Mallorcan farm animals are on view such as cattle, horses, sheep, goats, turkeys, chicken, black pigs and dogs.

Els Calderers de Sant Joan is open for visits daily from 10h00 to 18h00 (except Sundays). The admission charge is 8 € (children half price). I would recommend a visit any time. The venue and its garden can also be rented for events, weddings or other banquets.

The photos were taken near Sant Joan, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 24th and 25th, 2011. The time was 17:53:25, 17:25:54, 15:11:01, 15:02:48, 15:30:36 and 15:05:45, respectively.

The Landed Manor of Els Calderers

The Nit de la Poesia

Last Wednesday night was the Nit de la Poesia and the culmination of the Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània. The annual multi-lingual, inspiring event, now in its 13th year, was staged at the Teatre Principal in Palma. This year, there were participating poets from Morocco, France, Ukraine, Haiti, El Salvador and Zimbabwe, as well as Spain, Catalunya and, of course, Mallorca. Sadly, I was not allowed in by the doorman. Wednesday night was also the night of the Mahler rehearsal, if you remember. The Symphony No. 3 practice session had me late for the poetry festival, and my polite request for admission, albeit somewhat late, was duly rejected. Well, what can I say? To be fair, though, I was allowed into the foyer to purchase a book of the event, a programme so to speak, for the very decent price of 2 €.

I can tell that you did not make it either. What’s your excuse?

The photo (top) was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 25th, 2011. The time was 22:40:44. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es and the photographer, Manu Mielniezuk.

Muchas gracias.

The Nit de la Poesia

Death in Venice

It must be one of life’s ironies that Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 should be played tonight at Palma’s Auditorium, in the very week when the Conservatives won the popular vote in last Sunday’s autonomous, regional and municipal elections, here and virtually everywhere in Spain. People’s musical tastes tend to be quite conservative and classical music is now more popular than ever, at least here in Mallorca. Mahler’s music, however, was never considered conservative in his time. His Symphony No. 3 was groundbreaking for its length (95 minutes, sometimes with an added intermission), for its vast orchestral requirements and for its large women’s choir as well as the boys’ choir. It is for these reasons that this symphony is not very often performed; most orchestra’s resources do not normally conform to the work’s reliance on sheer manpower even though the Symphony No. 3 does not rely quite as ambitiously on human resources as his Symphony No. Eight would.

I had the privilege to be able to attend the Orquestra Simfònica de les Illes Balears concert rehearsal last night. If ever you have a chance to hear a musical work rehearsed, jump at the opportunity, regardless of what musical direction this might entail. The performance might be less sleek than on the night and the musicians might not be formally dressed, but the music is often more raw around the edges. You can see the exhaustion, virtually smell the sweat and feel the excitement of the composer’s creative passion. The Symphony No. 3 has six movements; the composition was written between 1893 and 1896, when Mahler was barely 35 years old. Gustav Mahler died 100 years ago last week, hence the commemorative concert performance in Palma. The Symphony No. 3 will be conducted tonight at Palma’s Auditorium by the extremely able Salvador Brotons, with arias sung by Marisa Roca (mezzo-soprano), accompanied by the lovely Capella Mallorquina and the Chor Infantil d’Andratx. I’d like you to go, especially if you did not vote for the Partido Popular. Some tickets are still available at 19 € and 27 €. Students pay 6 €. You can make your reservation through ServiCaixa.com.

A section from the Symphony’s Fourth Movement features in Luchino Visconti’s film Death in Venice, where it is presented as the music Gustav von Aschenbach composes immediately before his death.

The photos were taken in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 25th, 2011. The time was 21:54:53 and 21:24:20, respectively. Special thanks to Antoni Pizà who arranged for me to sneak into last night’s rehearsal.

Postscript:

The photo (bottom) was taken the following day at the actual performance. The date: May 26th, 2011. The time was 22:22:00.

Death in Venice

The Capilla de Son Real

In the old days, Mallorcan Manor houses used to have their own chapel either within their residence or else, within their grounds. Some of these capillas are on public view, either at Raixa, Sa Granja, Els Claderers, Aubocasser or Son Real (shown here), whilst others are not accessible, such as the one in Can Alomar in Palma, or in Can Marques, ditto.

Whilst the finca of Son Real is publicly owned, thanks to Senyor Antich and his consorts, the chapel there seems to be locked up every time I visit. I once sneaked through a half-open door whilst restoration work was being carried out, but the interior was bare then and without any adornments. I imagine that this was different in the glorious past of that estate.

Son Real is worth a visit irrespective of the chapel. The Manor house has been converted into a museum (admission 5 €) whilst the estate offers three or four gentle walking routes down to the sea and on to the Necropolis of Son Real. There are also a couple of Talayotic ruins on the grounds as well as a number of smugglers’ caves.

The photo was taken near Can Picafort, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 18th, 2011. The time was 11:34:31.

The Capilla de Son Real