18 years of Pasiones!
"Pasiones: Songs of the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939"
Michael Smith , Jamie O'Reilly with Katrina O'Reilly
"It is more than glorious music they offer us; it is our history that would otherwise be forgotten. At a time when passion is so lacking in our lives, these two artists set our hearts on fire! Viva Jamie and Michael!" -Studs Terkel
"I ordered the CD and went to listen to some music while I was working. I listened to it all afternoon. Really beautiful, and inspiring. "
Created with input from Spanish Civil War heroes and historians, and now sold worldwide, this CD includes 20 stirring songs, sung in 6 languages, that spotlights a powerful period in human history. What distinguishes this CD recording from others is the passion and commitment with which these top-notch performers perform the songs, honoring the stories of the International Brigades and Spain (many told to them first-hand) and replicating the complex and diverse musical styles of the era. Simple translations and program notes by Studs Terkel in a color booklet are included.
We recorded the live Pasiones album before an audience at WFMT studios in Chicago, in the summer of 1997. Now, it is one of the most comprehensive contemporary recordings of Spanish Civil War songs performed by a musical ensemble in the United States: 20 songs in 6 languages, including two new songs by Michael Smith. Pasiones, the live show, was created for a theater festival in Chicago. Michael had always been affected by the power of the Spanish Civil War songs, made popular by Pete Seeger and the Weavers. Aware of my training in opera and interest in ethnic folk songs, he suggested we create a show with these passionate songs. Six months of research and interviews with Spanish Civil War Veterans, Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) and with help from Peter Glazer (Director of "Woody Guthrie's American Song") we created Pasiones as you hear it on this recording.
With Michael (www.michaelsmithmusic,com) acting as musical arranger and myself as producer, (www.jamieoreilly.com) we debuted "Pasiones" as a folk-cabaret in February of 1997, weaving the beautiful poetry and reminiscences of the war into a piece that combines the intellectual influences of European cabaret (ala Brecht) with the fervor of the American folksong experience of 'the people's music', as sung in coffeehouses of the 1960's. Within a month of its premiere, the show became a 'living history project' performing to sellout crowds. The Chicago Tribune reported, "Pasiones is no mere history lesson (it tells a story) through music, not through speeches and dogma. It's a heartfelt, sublime piece."
Now years later with other successes under our belts, we never tire of singing and hearing these songs and the potency of the subject never wanes! We have performed Pasiones in large auditoriums and theater venues, as a two-act production with three voices, piano, clarinet and guitar. We present the piece for Humanities and Cultural Arts Centers, and History conferences, for classrooms and even in the intimacy of art galleries, with the posters or photographs of the war used as a backdrop. Schools and cultural groups studying the period use the CD. Performing great music, sharing history, teaching important lessons, making a difference, and making the music available anywhere in the world! What more could any performer want?! -Jamie O'Reilly, "Pasiones" Producer, Performer
Critics Praise of "Pasiones"
"They're not just going through the motions; each and every song receives a passionate treatment worthy of the subject. Smith and O'Reilly demonstrate powerfully that the music by the people who fought and died [in the Spanish Civil War] resonates throughout time and space." -Singout Magazine
"'Pasiones' features internationally acclaimed musicians Michael Smith and Jamie O'Reilly who reconnoiter the intricate Iberian rhythms with such closely fused harmony and razor clear enunciation as to seem a single voice." -Chicago Reader
"A smartly professional cabaret trio performs the beloved Spanish Civil War songs-songs of haunting, sometimes astonishing beauty-with text from Hemingway and Bertold Brecht woven in." -Vanity Fair
"A heartfelt, sublime piece of work. Sweeping and passionate." -Chicago Tribune
"A wonderful, heartbreaking evening of songs."
-New City, Chicago
"Together their musical palette is pretty astonishing," -Chicago Magazine
"The music of the Spanish Civil War is extremely rich and diverse...The lyrics are as multicultural as the war's participants and require not only language skills but a sensitivity to nuance, rhythm, humor, and pathos. Smith and O'Reilly group pull all the elements together; creating an intense musical experience...The audiences were riveted throughout. "
-Peter Carroll, PhD Stanford University, Chair, Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA)
"We SO enjoyed your and Michael's participation at the "Barcelona" program. You are truly first-rate. The program has received extremely high praise from the audience, especially for your beautiful and heart-wrenching performance. The overall quality of your performance-from the acting, staging and musicianship-was so high that it is impossible for me to select one aspect that stood out. I, like so many audience members, was touched in an indescribable way. I hope we'll have an opportunity to have you out to SF again.
-Silvia Mazzone-Clementi, Executive Director, Humanities West, San Francisco
"Pasiones" Song/Source Notes :
Song: 'Tu Que Brillas', Spanish folksong, sung as a lament to the stars in the sky
Song: 'Venga Jaleo!' Andalusian folksong, sung in Spanish
Song 'Song of the United Front' Words: Bertold Brecht, Music: Hanns Eisler Performed in four languages, this is the most famous of the pre-Hitler Brecht/Eisler songs.
Song: 'The Peat-Bog Soldiers' (Die Moorsoldaten) Chilling, yet hopeful, this song is attributed to an unnamed prisoner in the Borgermoor concentration camp, 1933. We learned this version from Ed Balchowsky, an American Jew, folk hero and SCW Veteran.
Song: 'Song of the American Consul' We learned this from Max Parker's 1982 Folkways Recording Al Tocar Diana: Songs from A Franco Prison. We heard about the LP from our friend Charles Hall, a Veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, who was in the same prison with Max and author Carl Geiser.
Song: 'A Gunner Name of Bill' Words: Theodore Cogswell Music by Michael Smith
This is one of the songs Michael wrote for 'Pasiones'.
Song: 'Sweet Cook House' and 'The Young Man From Alcala'
Traditional American Folksongs, made popular by Pete Seeger and others.
Song: 'En la Plaza de Mi Pueblo' Traditional Spanish "Our sons were born with a raised fist...we water the earth with the sweat of our brows." Filmmaker Julia Newman selected our version of this song for her film 'Into the Fire' over six others she heard performed.
Song: 'Bon Cop de Fals' (Anthem to Catalonia), 'Let us Sharpen our Weapons Well',
Sung in Catalan by the peasants in an uprising in the 15th century, revived during the SCW.
Song: 'Freheit!' Song of the Thaelmann Battalion, Words: Peter Daniel Music: Karl
Ernst, Performed in German, this is a favorite song of Studs Terkel, about the first foreign battalion to come to the aid of Spain.
Song: 'Los Cuatro Generales' Traditional Melody, new translation by Michael Smith
Song: 'Si me Quieres Escribir' Translation of Spanish: Al Prago, Andalusian Melody
Fiery and unrelenting, we learned this from the 'Songs of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade' LP.
Song: 'Asturias' Traditional, learned from Al Tocar Diana: Songs from A Franco Prison
Song: 'Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias' (Five O'clock in the Afternoon),
a stirring new setting by Michael of F.G. Lorca's famous poem on the death of a bullfighter as symbolic of the death of Spain.
Song: 'Rozhinkes mit Mandlen' (Raisins and Almonds) A Yiddish Lullaby which
Max Parker songs on his 'Al Tocar Diana' LP. We sing it, as does Max, as a tribute to the Jews who lost their lives, and as a song of hope for the children of the world.
Song:'Song of the International Brigades' Words: Erich Weinert Music: Espinosa-Palacio
Song: 'Beloved Comrade' (performed with a poem by Ernest Hemingway)
Words: Lewis Allan Music: Fred Katz. Written in 1936 for those killed in Spain, frequently sung in memory of President Roosevelt. Josh White was asked to sing this song for President Roosevelt. Tom, the father of director Peter Glazer, was the first to perform this song in public.
Song: 'Viva! La Quince Brigada' Traditional Spanish Folksong from 'The People's Songbook', also known as 'Ah, Manuela!' it is possibly the war's signature song.
Song: 'Jarama' sung to the tune of Red River Valley, this song was the theme of the Lincoln Brigade and we sing it whenever there are SCW Veterans in the Audience.
Song: 'Los Marineros' was the song of the Spanish Navy.
The following sources were among the readings,research , letters and words:"Our Fight- Writings by Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade"
"A Moment of War" by Laurie Lee
"An Oral History of The Spanish Civil War" (Sing Out! Library)
"Homage to Catalonia" by George Orwell
"Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade" by Peter Carroll
We quoted these folks in the cabaret show: Don Macleod, Bertold Brecht, Joe Gordon, Carl Geiser, James Neugass, Lini De Vries, Ernest Hemingway, and the great Spanish orator Dolores Ibarurri (La Pasionaria)
"Pasiones Project" history and background
"Pasiones" spotlights the music written and sung during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. The Good Fight attracted men and women from 50 countries, including 2,800 from the Unites States, who crossed oceans and mountains to join the International Brigades. These idealistic volunteers, trained and untrained soldiers and comrades fought Franco and the fascist army in Spain. Their stories tell heart-wrenching tales of idealism and bravery. Their songs, sung all over the world today, immortalize their place in history. International volunteers came with the anthems and instruments of their own countries, whether in the trenches, marching into cities or being kept prisoner, these songs were always sung among the Brigadistas.
Research sources for Pasiones include now out-of-circulation recordings and the published music of hundreds of songs from that period, many popularized by Pete Seeger and the Weavers and before that the Almanac Singers on an early Asch records recording. Other sources include a 1937 LP recorded during the bombing of Barcelona with Ernst Busch, the great German baritone singing. Famed playwright Bertold Brecht wrote the words to 'Song of the United Front', one of the anthems Busch sang. There is a recording of Paul Robeson who entertained the Brigadistas in an old Spanish church accompanied on piano by Chicago's own Ed Balchowsky, was used as well Smithsonian Folkways recordings, Sing Out! Magazine and library in Bethlehem, PA, and The People's Songbook. provided further sources.
The greatest guidance in creating this CD and the cabaret came from Peter Glazer, Pasiones' director, who provided published materials and background information on the Brigade veterans. Peter recently completed his Ph.D. at Northwestern University, writing his dissertation on the history of Spanish Civil War commemoration in the United States.
He is the creator and director of Woody Guthrie's American Song, which has been produced at scores of theaters across the country, and co-wrote Heart of Spain -- A Musical of the Spanish Civil War with composer Eric Bain Peltoniemi. Peter is an Assistant Professor of Theater at UC Berkeley, a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) Board of Governors.
Of tremendous support and assistance in "Pasiones" research were Charles Hall and his wife Yolanda. Chuck is a SCW Veteran and Chicagoan and was in the same Franco prison as Max Parker whose album 'Al Tocar Diana: Songs from a Franco Prison', another Folkways LP recording, was a major source for the songs in "Pasiones".
"Pasiones: Songs of the Spanish Civil War"
Folk-Cabaret Performances and Special Appearances
Charlotte's Web at Memorial Hall, Rockford, Illinois,
With Aura of the Cause Exhibit, Spanish Civil War Photographs at Jonathan Edwards College, Yale University
Into the Fire; American Women in the Spanish Civil War,
Film documentary (song excerpts from Pasiones)
San Francisco Humanities West: 100 Years in Barcelona
2001 National Conferences ALBA/VALB,
(Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade & Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives) New York, San Francisco and Website: www.alba-valb.org
Shouts from the Wall Poster Exhibit:
Harold Washington Library, Chicago, IL,
Zoellner Arts Gallery, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
Special Programs: Instituto Cervantes, Chicago, by invitation of the Cultural Emissary to Spain
Bertold Brecht Centenary: Lunar Cabaret and Western European Studies Department, Kalamazoo College, MI
G. Lorca Centenary, Chicago Cultural Center
Theater runs: Lunar Cabaret, Chicago and Theatre on the Lake, Chicago. Excerpts of program:Chicago Friends of the Lincoln Brigade, 60th Anniversary, Roosevelt University High School and College Education Programs for Holocaust Studies & History, Old Town School of Folk Music La Pena
The Illinois Arts Council selected "Pasiones" as one of its programs for Artstour. The compact disc album (Recorded live at WFMT Fine Arts Radio, 1997) Radio stations and museums from Washington, DC. to Montreal to California play the recording on a frequent basis.
Information can be found on the web:
J. O'Reilly Productions
PO Box 25675 Chicago, IL 60625