MIXED ME­DIA

ECHO OF THE AL­HAM­BRA

Pasatiempo - - MIXED MEDIA -

Santa Fe abounds with real and fic­tive links to Latin Amer­ica and Spain, per­haps none more color­ful than the city’s Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter, built in 1912 in a Moorish Re­vival style. The cen­ter echoes the Al­ham­bra, the palace of the me­dieval Is­lamic emirs of what is now the Span­ish city of Santa Fe de la Vega, Granada. The main en­trance of the Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter was mod­eled on the Al­ham­bra’s Gate of Jus­tice. And the cen­ter’s pink hue was in­tended to re­mind view­ers of the Al­ham­bra’s build­ings at sun­set. At 7 p.m. Wed­nes­day, Dec. 30, a group of mu­si­cians and friends of the Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter (463 Paseo de Per­alta) gather to present a mul­ti­me­dia cel­e­bra­tion, “Al­ham­bra-Scot­tish Rite: From Granada to Santa Fe.” The event cel­e­brates the history of the Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter as well as the his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural links the struc­ture rep­re­sents.

This fall, his­to­ri­ans sub­mit­ted a thor­ough re­port on the Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter to the His­toric Amer­i­can Build­ings Sur­vey (HABS), housed at the Li­brary of Congress. The HABS sur­vey is a pub­lic and schol­arly recog­ni­tion of the build­ing’s sig­nif­i­cance in the history of ar­chi­tec­ture in New Mex­ico and the greater U.S. In the course of the sur­vey, mea­sured draw­ings were pre­pared, new pho­tog­ra­phy was com­mis­sioned, and his­tor­i­cal records were scru­ti­nized, re­sult­ing in many new dis­cov­er­ies, in­clud­ing the un­for­tu­nate fact that the light fix­tures in the cen­ter’s ball­room were not made by Tif­fany & Co. While the en­tire re­port will even­tu­ally be posted on­line at the Li­brary of Congress, the curious are in­vited to the cen­ter for the Dec. 30 event to hear a lec­ture about the build­ing’s history by lo­cal Scot­tish Rite ma­son Ge­orge Watson.

The lec­ture is fol­lowed by a short doc­u­men­tary pro­duced in Spain about Wash­ing­ton Irv­ing’s con­tri­bu­tion to pre­serv­ing the Al­ham­bra. Irv­ing was in Spain in the late 1820s work­ing on a bi­og­ra­phy of Christopher Colum­bus. Af­ter vis­it­ing the Al­ham­bra, he lived there for one sum­mer, and his stay in­formed his 1832 Tales of the Al­ham­bra. The work di­rectly con­trib­uted to the preser­va­tion of the Al­ham­bra by Span­ish au­thor­i­ties. It also put the palace on the radar of Euro-Amer­i­can writ­ers, artists, and ar­chi­tects. In­deed, as the event’s or­ga­niz­ers as­sert, it is pos­si­ble that there would be no Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter in Santa Fe had it not been for Irv­ing.

The cel­e­bra­tion in­cludes mu­si­cal per­for­mances by Fer­nando Bar­ros Lirola and Car­los Lo­mas, the for­mer a na­tive of Granada, and the lat­ter a fix­ture of Santa Fe’s fla­menco mu­sic scene. Bar­ros Lirola, who runs a fla­menco school in Santa Fe, se­lected mu­si­cal com­po­si­tions that re­flect the three cul­tures that con­trib­uted to Granada’s cul­ture be­fore 1492, when the last Is­lamic ruler, Muham­mad XII, sur­ren­dered to the Span­ish mon­archs Fer­di­nand II of Aragon and Is­abella I of Castile. That event is com­mem­o­rated in the large 1915 paint­ing by Chicago artist J.G. Vy­sekel that hangs over the prosce­nium in the Scot­tish Rite Cen­ter theater. Mu­sic from the me­dieval Chris­tian, Is­lamic, and Jewish tra­di­tions will be per­formed, in­clud­ing works com­posed for the oud, an ar­chaic stringed in­stru­ment that was com­mon in Spain up to the late 1400s, when Mus­lims and Jews were expelled from the coun­try or forced to con­vert to Catholi­cism.

Peo­ple to­day have to travel to North Africa and else­where in the Is­lamic world, not to Spain, to hear oud mu­sic. But leave it to New Mex­ico to at­tract oud mu­si­cians, in the per­sons of the Iraqi Rahim Al­Haj and Car­los Lo­mas. Santa Fe de la Vega is one of the sis­ter cities of our Santa Fe, and that cul­tural his­tor­i­cal fel­low­ship can be traced in the Scot­tish Rite’s ar­chi­tec­ture as well as in the sights and sounds to be ex­pe­ri­enced at this event. Get tick­ets ($20) at www.brown­pa­pertick­ets.com/event/2475193 or at the door. — Khris­taan D. Vil­lela

Panoramic view of the Al­ham­bra, Santa Fe de la Vega, Granada

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