Drawing from his roots at Taos Pueblo and his travels around the world, Grammy and Nammy (Native American Music Awards) recipient Robert Mirabal creates an entirely unique experience for his audiences. Mirabal joins with family and friends once again this season for a show that includes storytelling, music, dance and visual imagery.
Drawing from his roots at Taos Pueblo and his travels around the world, Grammy and Nammy (Native American Music Awards) recipient Robert Mirabal creates an entirely unique experience for his audiences. Mirabal joins with family and friends once again this season for a show that includes storytelling, music, dance and visual imagery. But, Mirabal says it’s really become more of a ritual than a show, one that draws audience members from near and far for this annual extravaganza.
The 28th annual Robert Mirabal & Friends Holiday Show is planned Friday and Saturday (Dec. 13-14), 7 p.m., at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Pueblo del Pueblo Norte.
Mirabal, who plays the Native American flute, says his performance style has been influenced by modern dance, rock 'n' roll, lead guitar players, jazz and life at Taos Pueblo. His myriad influences are apparent in his all-inclusive way of integrating the performance arts and his spirited, openhearted and often astonishing stage presence.
This year’s event includes Mirabal’s band with music performed from his “Music from a Painted Cave” days. In 2001, a PBS special on Mirabal and a CD were released, both with the same title.
Guitarist Gary Cook Medina, drummer Joel Fadness, bassist Ronnie Johnson and keyboardist Ryan Clemons are the band members for the show. Joe Dean Rodarte is responsible for all the visuals and lighting. Omar Rane is taking care of the sound.
Evan Trujillo and his son Marcus and daughter Mikayla will be dancing, as well as Aspen, Kona and Masa Mirabal, Robert’s daughters.
For years, Mirabal has collaborated with the virtuosic New York–based string quartet ETHEL. Most recently, Mirabal and ETHEL have been touring with their collaborative piece called “River.” The experience has changed how Mirabal approaches playing the flute.
“These guys — they are fierce,” Mirabal said of his ETHEL collaborators. “One is from the School of Music at Yale, and three of them are from Juilliard. The way I play with this show we’re touring called ‘River’ is different because it’s teaching me how to breathe differently.”
Mirabal explained that while string musicians are free to breathe naturally through their performances, anyone who plays a wind instrument is constrained by their breath technique.
Mirabal said he had previously learned the technique of circular breathing, but he now applies it to playing the flute — the effect being that it looks like he does not take a breath. This enables him to play alongside the string musicians with an effortless quality.
This year has been a somber one for Mirabal and his family. He lost his father, his sister’s father, cousins, a classmate, a friend and “a lot of elders that I really, really loved from the Pueblo.” For Mirabal, this year’s extravaganza is a remembrance and an homage to those who have passed on.
During his annual holiday performances, Mirabal gives away traditional Taos Pueblo seeds he has grown and harvested. It is a very meaningful aspect of Mirabal’s exchange with his audience.
“People really have that expectation of the harvest and taking the seeds back home, and having the obligation for the springtime,” said Mirabal.
As a cultural ambassador, Mirabal is always inviting people to come out to Taos Pueblo for their open ceremonial days, so they can “just celebrate with us.”
“We’re not doing this for ourselves, we’re doing it for the world,” said Mirabal. “That’s the philosophy I put into my performances and the things that I do now. More celebrating who we are as people and finding the communities that are like-minded and can support us through the simplest of loss, or prayer or food or dance.”
“I think we’re all in it together. If you don’t give up, I don’t give up; I don’t give up, you don’t give up. That’s it,” said Mirabal.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $28 at the door, available by calling (575) 758-2052, or online at tcataos.org.
Robert Mirabal holiday show
Friday and Saturday (Dec. 13-14), 7-9 p.m.
Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte
Tickets $25 advance; $28 at the door
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