Quote of the Week, Perhaps a Bit Longer

"The biological community is a vast and complicated system for sharing and distributing the energy of the sun among a diversity of life forms." ~Martson Bates

1/31/10

Euskadi: Bertsolaritza

The 2009 national competitors

I can't believe I forgot to mention the bertsolaritza in my last post (thanks Dan for reminding me). Bertsolaritza is an amazing oral art form that is Basque tradition. Sunday, the day we walked over to Zumaia, was the bertsolaritza national championship. Dan and I had first heard of bertsolaritza from our friend Javier, a incredibly nice man Dan met at the Center for Basque Studies in Reno, who lives in Getaria and who told us about the finals when we ran into him on Saturday. Bertsos are basically improvised poems or songs. The two main parts of berstos are the improvised verse and the melody by which it is sung. An officiator gives the bertsolari (the singer) a topic and and a meter by which to sing it. The bertsolari is then judged on the complexity of their lyrics and their ability to stay on meter (they aren't judged on the quality of their voice). The Bertsos can be sung by one, two or several bertsolaris. The way we witnessed it was with two bertsolari's--one bertsolari starts the poem and then the second bersolari continues it and they go back and forth until the poem is finished, it was fascinating to watch.

On Sunday (12/13/09), when we first got to Zumaia, we stopped for pinxtos and coffee at a restaurant and they had the bersolaritza on the television. It was absolutely amazing, the contest was held in an auditorium that can hold up to 20,000 people, the place was packed. It was incredible to see such enthusiasm for poetry. The berstos were beautiful to listen to. Of course, I couldn't understand a word of it, but it was amazing. I wish I could describe it, but I would not be able to give it justice, you must experience it for yourself.

We watched the competition for awhile and then headed over to the cliffs for some sightseeing. Later that night, back at the apartment, we turned on the T.V. to see if the contest was still on and it was. We watched the end of it. A woman, Maialen Lujanbio, won the national competition, a first in the long history of this unique Basque tradition. She beat out Andoni EgaƱa, winner of the last four bertsolaritzas. There were only 8 competitors and the contest lasted all day long, it must have been exhausting for the bertsolaris--I can't imagine.

I'm so glad we were there to witness this national tradition, it was truly a beautiful and unique experience.

1 comment:

danwinnemucca said...

sweet poetry! how much fun!