Previous FolkWorld articles introduced the folk band Gueta na Fonte. That band has now evolved into a folk music orchestra named: ORQUESTA CÉLTICA ASTURIANA (OCASTUR). In late 2015, OCASTUR has released their album ‘Contra Viento y Marea’, ‘Against the Wind and the Tide’, which is reviewed in the CDs section of this FW release. The director of this Asturian Celtic Music Orchestra is the cellist Mento Hevia.
Mento Hevia started his music career in the late 1960s in Asturias (N-Spain), playing bass guitar in many rock, pop & folk bands for the last forty years. One of the latest folk bands that he joined was Gueta Na Fonte, where he was a cello & harp performer. That band has now evolved into a full Celtic music orchestra. ‘Celtic music’ implies a repertoire mainly based on traditional Asturian folk songs, most of them often played by the local gaiterus (bagpipers), but also incorporating tunes from the Irish and Scottish tradition of the 17th, 18th & 19th centuries, as well as songs from: England, Whales, French Britany, Canada, the Basque Country or Galicia.
Mento Hevia has participated in several seminars with teachers such as the violinist Alasdair Fraser and the cellist Nathalie Haas. That also had a significant influence in the relevance of the fiddles of all sizes in the structure of the orchestra. Nevertheless, the OCASTUR also incorporates a good number of instruments coming from the Asturian tradition : gaita bagpipes (of course), but also zanfona (hurdy-gurdy), rabel (rebec), percussion,…, or the harp, which was an instrument that used to be played in religious ceremonies in the cathedral in Asturias’s capital city: Oviedo.
Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Orquesta Céltica Asturiana (OCASTUR) (unknown/website).