This is a town that cherishes its holiday traditions. Since 1992, one of the most deeply loved of these traditions has been an annual show by legendary Taos Pueblo composer, musician, flute-maker, writer, dancer, actor, painter, sculptor and multigenre Grammy-award-winning recording artist Robert Mirabal.
The 27th annual Robert Mirabal Holiday Show graces the Taos Community Auditorium today (Dec. 13) at 7 p.m.
"The TCA is thrilled that Robert Mirabal will be performing here for his 27th annual holiday concert," said TCA Executive Director Colette LaBouff. "His is a performance that TCA audiences greatly anticipate each year and, as someone new to Taos, I look forward to attending for the first time."
"Twenty-seven years," mused Mirabal. "I can't believe it. We've been doing this holiday show since before my girls were born, and it's become a part of their lives."
"This year we're going to feature dancers from the Pueblo, and feature my band," he said. "Of course my girls are going to sing. People love the songs they sing. They've traveled a lot and have unique style. It's always centered around the theme of the holidays and the beauty of people coming together. It's just a family, fun event, but it's also based around things I've gone through during the year.
"We lost quite a few people this year, some elders and some younger people, and it's important to come together in positivity," he said. "A lot of people have that expectation of my work. It grounds them and solidifies their connection to the holiday season. It's about bringing people together, bringing the community together, through dance and storytelling. We look forward to it all year. We bring the tamales and make a party of it backstage. In the week leading up to the show, we make a big batch of tamales with red chile. It's a mellow traditional event."
He spoke proudly of daughters Aspen, Kona and Masa. "They performed at Carnegie Hall in New York last year, and in that huge hall you could hear a pin drop when they started singing," he said. "When you do something that affects a big room like that full of strangers -- they could feel that working. They've committed themselves to developing songs. They have really latched on to ceremonial music, ceremonial aspects of vocal ability. That's been interesting. It wasn't planned that way; it's the direction they chose.
"And the dancers of course, the great Evan Trujillo family dancers from here in Taos Pueblo. We've done a lot of shows together. We love coming together to create this holiday show. It's wonderful not to have to go anywhere. It's family-oriented on our part, and also a blessing for the new year and a blessing for the holiday season. It brings a lot of people in from all parts of the community. We don't perform here that often but try to maintain this place as a sacred place. That's why this holiday show is always an important show for me.
"It's great to have the band with us," Mirabal said. "I don't do as many band shows any more, I've been working more with a string quartet. The quartet really pushes my brain in another direction. They're classically trained, but they really have a unique style of appreciating. These guys have a good ear for creating expression. Our album 'The River' was released last year.
"This coming year I'm going to play Carnegie Hall again. I've been asked to do roles in different movies. We're setting up tours for next year, heading to South America. A lot of travel, lot of songs, lot of outdoor activity.
"I feel as I'm getting older, I'm seeing things more from an elder perspective," he said. "I'm really enjoying it. I guess what I'm going through is a kind of transitional time. Conversations with colleagues used to be all about music. Now it's more about our kids, what they're doing with their lives and what interesting things they're accomplishing, now that they're old enough to make their own choices. My girls are getting older and shifting their gears into their own life. As a father, I'm getting to see the changes. Someone made a word play about 'empty nest' and 'emptiness' -- it's an interesting transition. I'm grateful that I still have the energy and the opportunity and the drive to travel and experience different cultures."
Mirabal will be bringing gifts to the TCA from another of his passions: farming and tending the earth. "We'll bring seeds and give them away, so people can farm. Last year was a small harvest; the drought was severe. You've got to stay positive as a farmer. You're on your knees with either happiness or sadness. I like to say, 'The best place for a man is on his knees, nurturing the things that he's planted.'
"We keep pushing; that's what we do. You have to go at it with a physical commitment to seeds. Those seeds will teach you about life, about water, everything you need to know about yourself. When you farm, you don't need to go outside your life for that. You're already connected to so much more. That's what teaches you the most. Not being tourists on the earth but really seeing. If I can do it, then anyone can do it.
"This year's concert, what I look forward to the most is bringing the people together," he said. "I love seeing the people in the lobby before the show. I'm feeling a longing to see the old and new faces, give some hugs, come together."
Tickets are $25 in advance, $28 at the door.
The Taos Community Auditorium is located at 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For more information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.
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