2nd April 2016: Círculo de Bellas Artes (Madrid, Spain)

Círculo de Bellas Artes (CBA) is a Spanish cultural and artistic association founded in 1880, and they had partnered with The Japan Foundation to hold a concert by Kenichi Yoshida [吉田 健一], a famous Tsugaru-shamisen [津軽三味線] player / artist.

I got to Madrid in the late afternoon, with enough time to get to one of the most hidden Starbucks in the city, which was rather crowded as it was Saturday. Fortunately I found myself a table to spend the extra time (public transport transport paranoia, maybe. But it’s not paranoia if they’re really after you and you have been stuck in Spain commuter trains for hours already). And well, a Starbucks a year and all that… And I mean, I was planning to skip dinner so a Vanilla Frappuccino would keep me going.

The concert was to be held at the Círculo de Bellas Artes building, located in downright in the middle of Madrid. It was designed by the Spanish architect Antonio Palacios and erected in the early 1920s. From the outside, I had always thought it looked pretty weird.

Inside, however, it was a different feeling. I had never imagined the inside of the building was going to be this neat! The CBA Headquarters has a neat staircase, an impressive ballroom, and a reportedly-cool observatory at the top. Unfortunately, getting to the observatory required lining and I was not willing to do so either before or after the concert. However, I did get some views from the second-floor windows!

The concert was in the inner theatre Teatro Fernando de Rojas, a fully-functioning theatre on that second floor, with about 400 chairs, and I had got a fairly good seat so I was happy and could sneak up a couple of pictures.

The concert in itself was amazing. Kenichi Yoshida, the younger brother in the Yoshida Brothers band, comes regularly to Spain to teach shamisen – a classical Japanese string instrument – in Barcelona. Oftentimes he makes the most out of his time and organises recitals and other activities. The concert was a mixture of old and new melodies, played along some drumming. The concert lasted for about an hour, and it felt very short. As Yoshida is a frequent visitor, he can speak a tiny bit of Spanish, too, and he tried that. It was a lovely touch.