You don’t have to live in Brittany, France, to celebrate Fete de la Bretagne/St. Yves Day. In fact, celebrations will be going on in Paris, New York, Beijing … and Albuquerque.
The Breton-based band the Samuel Le Henanff Quartet is inviting New Mexicans to join in the festivities at three concerts next week in Albuquerque. Two are on Thursday, May 23 and one is on May 24.
The feast day of Saint Yves is May 19, but it has become part of the extended Fete de la Bretagne, which runs from May 16 through May 26 in Brittany, which is in northwest France.
St. Yves Day means a lot to Bretons. St. Yves was born in Brittany in the 13th century and every year his feast day is celebrated as part of a larger cultural festival in the region.
The traditional music of Brittany is rooted in Celtic music; Celts had settled in pre-Roman Brittany. Bretons have their own form of bagpipes and folk harp. But their regional music has widened to include laments, ballads, sea shanties and hymns.
The quartet’s traditional music has been influenced by jazz, blues, Latin and flamenco. The ensemble was recently honored by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage to Humanity.
Le Henanff’s ensemble is known as a “fest-noz” band. Fest-noz means night party in the Breton language. But it also refers to the festive gatherings of traditional Breton dancers accompanied by singers and instrumentalists. The gatherings are all-encompassing. Musicians reach out to include everyone.
Le Henanff plays accordion. The other three band members play fiddle, guitar and percussion ranging from a drum kit to a cajón.
One of the reasons that the Le Henanff quartet is coming to New Mexico is to collaborate with Native American musicians.
These are the three announced concerts:
• Noon Thursday, May 23 at Los Griegos Library, 1000 Griegos NW. Free.
• 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Outpost Performance Space, 210 Yale SE. $11 in advance, $15 at the door. Tickets available at ampconcerts.org or at Hold My Ticket, 112 Second SW or by calling 886-1251.
• 3 p.m. May 24 at the Taylor Ranch Library, 5700 Bogart NW. Free.