A memoire from Tony about this special ensemble, their visit, and the naming of our barn...
Cuncumén is the name of an emblematic Chilean folk group that was formed in 1957 and exists to this day.
The name means “murmur of water” in the ancient Mapuche indigenous language and this was the first band of which the visionary folk singer Victor Jara was a member. Their musical mission is to keep the folk songs of Chile alive as well as to maintain the representation of their most iconic member, Victor Jara.
I have made several pilgrimages to Chile over the years and on many occasions, attended Cuncumén concerts and met with members of the band.
They were aware of the El Sueño Existe: Victor Jara Festival in Machynlleth and were very keen to participate. We would often discuss this possibility but it seemed very unlikely to happen for all sorts of logistical reasons.
Then, one day I received a phone call from a representative of the band to say that some concerts had been arranged for Cuncumén in Spain, and that they wondered whether they might at last be able to make it over to Wales.
I had in the meantime, become friends with one of the two surviving founder members of the band; who lived in London, and we had started playing music together. His name was Alejandro Reyes.
Somehow or other, we were able to arrange that Cuncumén come to London and to Wales to do concerts.
So it was, that on a dark October evening, the 6 members of this iconic band appeared at the door of Bryn Tyrnol.
Knowing that at least one member of the band was well into her 80s, I was determined that they would all have a comfortable stay in the house. I spent a whole day getting the kitchen as spick and span as possible and removing any evidence of the presence of Short Tailed Field Voles who were living on-and-off in the house.
On arrival of the band; I hugged them and offered Mariela Ferreira and the others a drink. Responding to a request for tea, I opened the teapot to find… a dead vole inside. Mortified, I ran out into the garden with the teapot and came back to make them tea with tea bags. God only knows how that vole got into the teapot!! Imagine if I had made the tea without noticing the vole. No, I’d rather not.
For myself and many others, the band´s presence in Machynlleth was a truly magical happening. A small barn with a stream flowing through it in the garden had been christened “The Cuncumén” by Alejandro Reyes himself on one of his visits to Wales. The band sang a song in the Cuncumén which felt like an inauguration of the barn which has since been used for many musical events.
We organized 2 concerts for the band; one at the Centre For Alternative Technology and the other in the Iron Room in Eglwys Fach. Cristina Solana; a singer from the Canary Islands played a key role in helping bring about the concerts; both of which were memorable and wonderful events.
There were a couple of fantastic jam sessions with the band, and at one stage, Alejandro joined the band on stage to sing one of his brilliant revolutionary songs.
I don´t suppose that we will ever have an opportunity to welcome Cuncumén into the Dyfi Valley again .
I feel really grateful to have been part of this wonderful and truly magical musical episode.