Teatro Pereyra - Carrying the torch for Live Music
Texto: Cat Weisweiller
Nothing beats a stroll around Ibiza town to appreciate the island’s wonderfully Mediterranean cultural and architectural charms. For example, a building that’s wholeheartedly characteristic of the late 19th century here, is that of Teatro Pereyra. Built in 1898, and tucked just around the corner from the Vara de Rey, this legendary establishment retains much of its original features, including mares stone walls matching those of the old town fortress.
Originally marking KM 0 of the Sant Joan Road, and named after a Portuguese architect of that era, the Teatro building overlooked the island’s buzzing main market and, for all intents and purposes, the central meeting point of the island. More notably, it was the first official social establishment to open outside the old town walls. Although it has not actually operated as a theatre since the early 80s, it has for over a century maintained its reputation for extending warm hospitality to the island’s locals and visitors alike. Never more so than when Dutch couple, Eric-Jan Harmsen and Kees ter Bruggen, fell hopelessly in love with it in 1987; resolutely pooling all their resources to rent and refurbish it.
Eric-Jan and Kee’s eyes had met at a piano bar in Holland, where Eric-Jan happened to be performing. From that fateful moment on, Kees (a well known actress and dancer) and Eric-Jan (a classical pianist and composer of ‘The Bluffers’ cartoon soundtrack) were inseparable. Various flits to Ibiza on holiday, and two children later, they came to settle here permanently in 1985. However, it soon became clear that paid jobs in music, particularly composing, and indeed dancing or acting parts, were worrisomely few and far between. Hence it came to be that a modest, local, traditional café in the heart of town became the object of their desires. Seeing it as a grasped opportunity to capitalise on Kees’s renowned people skills and for Eric-Jan to both perform regularly and surround himself with live music, a night café with live music on tap became their burning ambition. Although this particular dream came at the price of taking on huge personal financial risk, and timed in with the imminent birth of a third child, they still forged forward – vigorously refurbishing the joint and proudly reopening it on 08.08.88.
Their tenacity and determination paid off. With the island’s growing reputation for discos and house music, came a matching hunger for a reputable live music venue – particularly one that still unfalteringly opens its doors from 8am to 4am; 7 days a week in the summertime, and 6 days a week in the wintertime. To this day, funk, blues and soul are its musical offerings in summer; with winter taking on a more warming Latin and Cuban tone. Despite it being the only live music venue on the island offering such a concentrated live music output, there’s never been a charge at the door, nor any need felt for overbearing doormen. The owners also remain steadfast in their view that they will never resort to having VIP tables or cordoned off areas. Its understated, and yet worldly, charm – somehow reminiscent of a private members’ jazz club – has attracted a hefty list of performers over the years; including vocalists Kim Mazelle, Barbara Tucker, Muriel Fowler, Thijs van Leer, and Amanda Brown (finalist of hit US reality show ‘The Voice’); and renowned jazz pianist, the late Tete Montoliu. In their wake, has followed an equally impressive patron list including Jeremy Irons, Bon Jovi and the King of Spain.
Although still firm fixtures at the venue, Kees and Eric-Jan handed over the day-to-day management to their son, Juan Guillermo (Juangui), in 2004; giving Kees the time to concentrate full-time on her painting and sculpture – passions she has enjoyed since the late 90s. Her highly acclaimed works – along with being on display in Teatro Pereyra and at her studio on the road to Sant Josep – have been widely exhibited in Amsterdam, and locally at the Centro Cultural de Ibiza, Consell Insular in Ibiza town, and Centro de Convenciones in Santa Eulalia. Meanwhile, Eric-Jan has kept himself busy producing and performing on two very pleasing albums: ‘Live at the Teatro Pereyra’ (featuring Dave Jeffs [aka Blues Dave] and Eric-Jan in 2008) and ‘52:52 of Musical Poetry’ (featuring Cuban saxophonist, Rafael Garcés, and Eric-Jan in 2011). He can also still be found performing regularly at Teatro Pereyra.
Few music enthusiasts are in doubt that for those seeking refuge from the harder beats of clubland, Teatro Pereyra certainly continues to carry the brightest torch for live music on the island; certainly justifying Kees and Eric-Jan’s tireless commitment to their cause: “Over the years we’ve funded, nurtured, cherished, and put our hearts and souls into this place, it’s like a child to us.” Meanwhile, Juangui, who by all accounts has inherited the perfect measure of his mother’s warmth and charm and father’s tenacity and charisma, grew up around the bar; thus sharing the same enthusiasm for all it stands for: “I live and breathe Teatro Pereyra. It’s exhilarating to be part of a place where you can observe all ages and walks of life as they meet, talk, drink, share experiences and ideas, build relationships, and enjoy the intimacy of quality live music in such close proximity to the performers. With no door policy, nor other social barriers, and open 20 hours a day, this is a place where we get to witness true unbridled musical magic on a daily basis… ”