The San Fernando Cathedral in Main Plaza. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Canary Islander Benito Cabrera is called the “Virtuoso of the Timple,” a traditional Spanish instrument that resembles a large ukulele, and he’ll be playing a free concert at the San Fernando Cathedral on Monday and Tuesday from 6:30-8 p.m.

Canary Islands Descendants Association Public Affairs Officers Rosemary and Jerry Geyer, in conjunction with Musical Bridges Around the World, have been on the forefront in organizing the concert.

Geyer said his association has been trying to maintain a relationship with the Canary Islands for years. He said the efforts began in the 1960s, and ties with the islands have fluctuated since that time, reaching a low during the 2007-2009 recession. San Antonio has two sister cities in the Canary Islands and this concert is one of the the sister city cultural engagement activities.

Geyer said communication has increased since then, and the Canary Islands sent Benito Cabrera to play in San Antonio as a cultural gift.


“(Cabrera’s visit) is a gift and so we are trying to celebrate and accept the gift in the best way that we can for the community,” Geyer said.

The concert will be a synchronized audio and visual experience. As Cabrera and his accompanist play their traditional instruments, videos that relate to the music will play on a large screen behind them.

Cabrera has released nine timple solo recordings, and is an award-winning researcher, author, teacher, musical director, composer, arranger, virtuoso, and museum director. He currently heads the House-Museum of Timple in Teguise (Lanzarote).

“He has taken this folk instrument (the timple) and turned it into a thing that’s played in places like Carnegie Hall and the big halls in Vienna and Berlin,” Geyer said.

Cabrera also will play in New Orleans and Miami, which are the two other places Canary Islanders colonized in the 1700s.

Geyer said it is only appropriate for Cabrera to play at the San Fernando Cathedral since Main Plaza, where the Cathedral is located, was the original Canary Island colony. The 16 families, totaling 55 people, traveled to what is now San Antonio by sea and foot and established the first civil government in Texas, as detailed on an historical marker that sits in front of the Bexar County Courthouse.

Update: The concert is a sold out show, but but be on the lookout for more concerts produced by Musical Bridges Across The World, a local foundation that has been bringing music to our community for 17 years.

*Featured/top image: The San Fernando Cathedral in Main Plaza. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

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Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....