Wednesday 15 December, 2010, at 6.30 pm
Alice Yard’s final event for 2010 is an exhibition of photographs documenting contemporary parang music in Trinidad, with a performance by the parang group Los Amigos Cantadores.
Isabella Elizalde is a student at Trinity College, Connecticut. She has spent the Fall 2010 semester working in Trinidad under the mentorship of photographer Mark Lyndersay. Her series of photographs titled Unidos por la Musica documents Los Amigos Cantadores over several months leading up to the 2010 Christmas season.
"I began taking photography classes at the age of 14; I had barely started high school, and had an opportunity to take a photography class. I fell in love with the art instantly; I was astonished at what it had to offer and the by the process of development. In college I took my higher level photography class with Pablo Delano. I learned the struggles and tribulations that a photographer has to overcome in order to create a successful series photographs. I took what professor Delano taught me and brought it overseas to Trinidad.
When I first arrived to Trinidad I did not know anyone, I was nervous and afraid to talk to people since I did not know how they would react to me. Shamagne Bertrand, the program director for my study abroad program, mentioned parang music and the group that she is involved in. I decided to go because I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet people. At first I only went to parang practice to help them with their pronunciation, of Spanish words. However after a while I enjoyed the atmosphere and the people. I was amazed at how welcoming they were to a stranger. I thought that this would be a great chance to highlight what it means to be in a Parang group.
Whenever I went to their practices I felt a sense of closeness and community. Like any music group, there were struggles the parang group had to overcome. They helped each other, and by working as a team, were able to rejoice in their triumphs together. Los Amigos Cantadores welcomed and allowed me to document their daily lives. For me, this made my stay in Trinidad even better. Although at times seeing them interact with each with such love, made me a tad bit homesick, I realized how close the group is.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, the group sets up in the driveway of one of the founding members, Neal Marcano. They fill the streets of Trincity with their wonderful music, the singers singing in Spanish, a language that is practically foreign to them, but sung effortlessly with the traditional instruments of parang in the background. For me, it was amazing and wonderful hearing them sing Spanish songs that my mother used to play for me when I was younger. I truly was immersed in Trinidadian culture in a way I never expected. It is safe to say that without meeting the parang group, I would not have had such a great time in Trinidad. Documenting Los Amigos Cantadores, not only taught me the virtue of community, but also took me on an unforgettable journey in which I was able to find myself through photography. Los Amigos Cantadores welcomed me with open arms and I would like to return the favor and thank them for their kindness, for which I am eternally grateful."
See portfolio here