Thursday, June 14, 2012

Remembering Cristina

photo: Cristina Taborda singing
Cristina singing her heart out
Photo: Alex Beetham
About a year and a half ago, a friend of mine passed away suddenly in her sleep.

It was a shock to everyone -- so abrupt. So unexpected. It was a dream she never woke up from.

I knew Cristina Taborda mostly from skateboarding, but I had also begun to quietly follow her artistic career.

I was first surprised -- and charmed by -- a media installation she had created called Sensory Inn. She was also associated with the Clay & Paper Theatre.

Cristina’s Sensory Inn -- ‘Precious, fragile & powerful’

More prominently, she was involved in Toronto’s independent music scene -- her affiliations included Parks and Rec, and her own band Radio Belle.

I remember speaking to Cristina at a holiday party, the year before she left us. I asked where I could get her music. She flashed that gorgeous smile of hers, and laughed.

“How sweet of you to ask!” she said. Then she gave me a hug.

She was beginning to perform regularly in numerous venues around town. She had an expressive voice, an infectious exuberance, and a restive talent. Who among us wasn’t secretly in love with her, a little?

Anima Fado. L to R: Larry Lewis,
Cristina Taborda, Nuno Cristo
After she passed away, I would listen every now and then to a fado performance of Cristina’s, hosted on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

To my disappointment one day, I discovered that CBC Radio had changed their online archives -- the concert was no longer available for streaming. The memento of her voice was silenced.

So I wrote to them, and asked if it was possible to get a copy.

Months passed, without any response. I assumed I would never hear back. My note was lost in the ether. But then amazingly, about a year after I wrote in, someone found and replied to my message.
(I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, so I won’t name names. I sincerely thank them for their help.)

It took some patience, but recently I finally managed to obtain this pair of audio recordings of Cristina, singing for Anima Fado on May 19, 2010, at the Lula Lounge.

I invite you to listen -- carefully.

LINK: Cristina Taborda with Anima Fado, set 1

The songs -- in particular their thematic content -- have acquired a wistful poignancy, now that she is departed.
“Fado is songs of destiny from the narrow cobbled streets of urban Portugal. The mysterious song of Lisbon, Fado is not only music and poetry but life itself.” 
-Anima Fado
Here’s the second set:

LINK: Cristina Taborda with Anima Fado, set 2
[The video photographs are not from the concert that evening; they are lifted from Cristina’s Facebook page...]

There is a complex word associated with fado, saudade, that is briefly discussed near the end of the second set (~15:53). Subtleties and nuance often get lost in translation, but saudade nevertheless seems to capture how many of us feel about the loss of such a bright, vibrant talent.

The days pass by, ever onwards. Though our memory fades, and the light dwindles in the distance, still there remains a place in our hearts where she touched us; still do we long to see that smile once more.

You are missed, Cristina.

Please enjoy, and share!