By Ashley Lee: PNT staff writer
Growing up at Taos Pueblo, Robert Mirabal says he celebrated the holidays in all his culture’s indigenous ways as well as a good Santa-fearing Christian.
He’ll share some of those traditions with a Clovis Community College concert series crowd at 4 p.m. Nov. 26 as his album “Pueblo Christmas” begins its world debut in Clovis with a one-time performance.
“I am the product of that swirl of smoke and dogmas from more than one culture,” Mirabal said in a press release. “Our native religion is based on a 24/7, 365-day spiritual concept. We’re a completely nature-based culture — but then on the corner there’s a Catholic church.”
CCC cultural arts director Christy Mendoza said she has been working to bring Mirabal to Clovis for nearly three years.
“About two or three years ago, I saw a PBS video of his music from a painted cave,” Mendoza said. “Then I contacted his people and they sent me material and the show was too expensive,” she said. “Just for the heck of it, I called (this year) and he was starting his new show, ‘Pueblo Christmas.’ We made an offer and he accepted and I was so glad that we were able to snag this show.”
The tour’s world premiere launches in Clovis, then continues on to Seattle, Phoenix, Sedona, Ariz., Albuquerque, Taos and Santa Fe.
“It is not actually a play, but a show with music and really cool video,” said Andrew Flack of Buzz Inc., Mirabal’s agent. “The musicians play flutes, percussion, cello and really amazing recorded music that serves as a soundtrack.”
The concert will feature stories from Mirabal’s life growing up at Taos Pueblo. There are Christmas carols that Mirabal charted and arranged for Native American flutes and cello. There are 14 tracks on the “Pueblo Christmas” CD that include “Green Chili Christmas” as well as “Silent Night” and other classic Christmas songs, according to a Buzz press release.
“One of our goals for our cultural art series is to feature New Mexico performers,” Mendoza said. “Not only does he fit the bill but his ancestors have lived on the pueblo for many years.”
Mirabal will be joined by renowned cellist Michael Kott and his brother, Patrick Mirabal, who will play flute and percussion, according to the release.
“Many of these songs were published in 19th-century Europe. At the same time that slavery was still prominent in the U.S., Manifest Destiny was in full stride, and many Native American cultures were being annihilated,” Mirabal said. “I’ve heard tell they sang ‘Away in the Manger’ after the December 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee.”