This is the Estudiantina de Guanajuato. The troubador tradition began in the late middle ages in Europe and this is perhaps the first or only of its kind on the American continent. They sing songs of chivalry and courtly love that so much of Mexican music like "Cielito Lindo" sung here, lends itself well to. From what I recall living here in 2007-08, they perform at least once a week here in the center of the city after which like Pied Pipers of Hamelin, they walk, play guitar, and sing from here up the callejones or passageways or alleys on stone, cobbled streets that extend upwards into the city. This is called la callejonada and is quite a physical challenge.
Essentially, the center of town is the lowest point of the city with the rest of the city elevated, nestled in a mountain. I've seen callejonadas easily to the tune of 50 or more students and young people, generally, that assemble organically and in the moment to celebrate life, song, and tradition. Such joy and happiness is expressed and regularly shared with all and adds magic to Guanajuato's overall picturesque beauty. Worthy of note is that some of Mexico's greatest, world renowned artists, including Diego Rivera, Javier Solis, and Jose Alfredo Jimenez come from Guanajuato.
Beginning this coming weekend is the much-anticipated Festival Cervantino that takes place annually in Guanajuato over a three-week time period in one of the world's greatest arts, music, theater, and dance festivals. It is attended by thousands that emanate from all over the world. The Cervantino is always breathtaking and an organizational feat for a program that always promises to be of very high caliber in and of itself. (Note: If you don't understand Spanish, go to this link in Google and get a translation).
As I think of the role and importance of art in our lives—and specifically, the passion for the arts that Guanajuato embodies and gifts to the world—I am reminded of its potential to promote both unity in diversity and a shared sense of humanity that suspends at least for the moment, the craziness of a world that often seems to be out of control.
I just came across this really nice piece (see below) on Guanajuato from the San Francisco Chronicle that captures well what makes Guanajuato so special.
Put Guanajuato on your bucket list. You will not be disappointed.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Photo: Maribeth Mellin, Special To SFGate