• Leonard Cohen has taken El Milán

    October 21, 2011

    The University of Oviedo has paid tribute to the winner of the Príncipe de Asturias Prize of Letters with an exhibition, a poetry reading and a concert

    Niall Binns and Fernando Beltrán during the Poetry reading

    The multidisciplinary Canadian artist Leonard Cohen received a triple homage from the University of Oviedo with art, poetry and music as main protagonists. The winner of the Príncipe de Asturias prize of Letters came to the Humanities Campus to take part in the official exhibition of its work entitled "Cohen: the B side. Drawings and engravings of a multicisplinary artist". This exhibition, organized from the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters in collaboration with the Príncipe de Asturias Foundation pays tribute to Cohen's creative spirit and it's one of the most important events during the week of the Príncipe de Asturias Prizes.

    Cohen, accompanied by the vice-rector for University Extension of the University of Oviedo, Vicente Domínguez, and the dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Cristina Valdés, visited the exhibition based on his graphical work surrounded by the applauses given by the large crowd that filled the hall.

    Deeply excited, grateful and without missing a thing, the winner of the Príncipe de Asturias prize of letters praised the exhibition and he asked about the messages that the Humanities students had left under his engravings. Verses, wishes, thanks and, even, vindications written in Spanish, English, French and Asturian offered "voice" to this graphical work.

    The veteran author took his iconic hat off over and over to thank both students and teachers for the several ovations offered by them. A gratitude which he showed in the Faculty's Signing Book, where he wrote: "Thanks for your nice attention to my work", and he approached to the attendees to talk to them and sign autographs.

    This official opening event became a very intense and charming event. During the closure, after unveiling a commemorative plaque, Cohen told: "I can only say thank you". Then, he listened to the "Gaudeamus igitur" with great emotion, played in his honour by the University Choir, with which this event finished.

    Cohen's words

    The homage given from the University Oviedo to the Leonard Cohen's Work at El Milán, began at 11:00h, with the poetry reading "Travelling Blindly" held in the Auditorium of Humanities and organized by the Vice-rector's office for University Extension, Culture and Sports and Aula de las Metáforas Foundation. Niall Binns and Fernando Beltrán poets read Cohen's poems in a literary event which was a success for the audience.

    Milán sound at the University's Auditorium

    At night, the musical tribute took place at the Cultural Centre of University Extension LAUDEO (The old University of Oviedo). The Auditorium, the most solemn scenario of the academic institution, was opened for the first time for this very special event: a concert in which former university students that one day entered into the musical scene from the Campus of el Milán paid their particular tribute to the Canadian artist.

    Cohen was the excuse for the meeting as well as the University of Oviedo's awarding to their former students. With the full capacity covered one week ago, First we take Milán concert, - a title that joined the homage to Cohen and the link with the university campus- filled for the very first time the Auditorium with electric guitar and drums sounds in a repertory with some of the Cohen's most famous themes. Suzanne, First we take Manhatann, Who by fire, Famous blue raincoat, Dance me to the end of love, Stranger's song, Dance me to the end of love or Hallelujah are some of the versions that the attendees could enjoy.

    With Mar Álvarez as mistress of ceremonies, Xabel Vegas, Fernando Marín, Montse Álvarez, Igor Paskual, Alicia Álvarez, Fanny Álvarez and José Luis García, Nacho Vegas, Roberto Nicieza, David Guardado y Chus Neira also were on the stage. All of them were members of groups like Manta Ray, Australian Blonde, Babylon Chat, Nosoträsh, Penelope Trip, Pauline en la Playa or Elle Belga, among other. These artists were accompanied by a special band formed for this occasion: David Casillas (contrabass), Eva Díaz (drums), Jacobo de Miguel (keyboards), David Varela (accordion) y Ana Fernández (violin).

    For those who couldn't attend this unique and very special concert, the University of Oviedo, in collaboration with the Programme Producer of the Principality of Asturias and the TPA, will edit a DVD with a documentary about this event and a live disc.


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