Pasiones: Songs of the Spanish Civil War (archived)

A Folk Cabaret & CD that featured
Jamie O’Reilly and Michael Smith

With Katrina O’Reilly and Bob Weber (cello).

Original 1997 production directed by Peter Glazer

“It is more than glorious music they offer us; it is our history that would otherwise be forgotten. At a time when passion is so lacking in our lives, these two artists set our hearts on fire! Viva Jamie and Michael!”

Studs Terkel

Read Jamie’s BLOG about the PBS Hemingway Series, and their connection to Hemingway.

Written by Jamie O’Reilly and Michael Smith, with input from Spanish Civil War heroes and historians, (and heard in a compact disc sold worldwide), Pasiones included 20 songs, sung in 6 languages, accompanied by images. This folk-cabaret spotlights a powerful period in human history. With passion and commitment, celebrated performers Jamie O’Reilly and Michael Smith, and a fine musical ensemble of guitar, piano, clarinet and cello, deftly navigated the complex and diverse musical styles of the era of 1930s. The cabaret wove the poetry of Lorca and Hemingway, and reminiscences of those who were there, into a moving folk-cabaret theater piece. The songs were accompanied by projections of Spanish Civil War photographs, posters, paintings and contemporary images of Spain, created in co-operation with Peter Glazer and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. J. O’Reilly Productions producer, publicist.

Michael in Pasiones 2011
Michael in Pasiones 2011

Pasiones captured the fervor of commemorative gatherings during the Worker’s Movement of the 1930s. These timeless international songs and anthems: the “people’s music,” also sung in coffeehouses and marches of the 1960’s, are still beloved and heard in gatherings to this day.

When they performed these songs, Michael and Jamie honored the stories of Spain and the International Brigades, (many told to them first-hand). They honored the Spanish people, the volunteers and citizens who lost their lives, and those, who after the war, spent a lifetime working for justice. They honored history! (Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives). With the discovery of the “Mexican Suitcase” – lost war photos by Robert Capa and others, and the discovery of the mass grave where F. Garcia Lorca was buried, and countless movies and books, the Spanish Civil War history remains in the news. Its lessons will forever inform our history and view of war.

Plaque for the International Brigades, Spain

In the years since its debut on stage at Chicago’s Lunar Cabaret, a haven for Chicago’s political and fringe artists, Pasiones saw three theatrical runs in Chicago. Michael and Jamie were musical guests of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, both nationally and locally, and shared the stage with the late Studs Terkel and other activists. In addition, the cabaret was seen in theater, music and humanities festivals, high schools, libraries, galleries and exhibitions, and in commemorative gatherings on both coasts.

“The production of Pasiones: Songs of the Spanish Civil War with Jamie O’Reilly, Michael Smith and Katrina O’Reilly, once again moved me to tears.”

Nora Guthrie
Pasiones: Songs of the Spanish Civil War with Jamie O'Reilly and Michael Smith

Appearances: Tribeca Arts Center, NYC, Yale University, Zollner Art Center at LeHigh University in Bethlehem, PA,  Herbst Theater in San Francisco, CA, for Humanities West, and Calvin Simmons Theatre in Oakland, CA, and for the Brecht Centenary: Center for European Studies Kalamazoo, MI.

Chicago area: Premiered in 1997 at the Lunar Cabaret and Theater on the Lake, Evanston SPACE,  WFMT Studio One,  WPA 2.0 Brand New Deal Arts Series for Hothouse with Las Guitarras de Espana, Instituto Cervantes, Oak Park Public Library: Hemingway Series, Roosevelt University, Lorca Centenary: Chicago Cultural Center, Harold Washington Library, Rhinoceros Fest, Athenaeum Theater, Chicago Friends programs, inlcuding Holocaust Studies at Evanston Township High School.

Chicago heroes included Charles Hall, Syd Harris, John Rossen, Paul Luka and Eddie Balchowski. The last Chicago area SCW Veteran, esteemed Psychiatrist Aaron Hilkevitch, passed away several years in Hyde Park, marking the last funeral Jamie and Michael would sing to the heroes in the war against Franco.

Live Radio

In 2011, Jamie, Michael and Katrina performed Pasiones on WFMT’s Folkstage live radio, online at

CD Recording

PASIONES CD with Michael, Jamie & Katrina

In 1997 the celebrated Pasiones CD was recorded before a live audience at WFMT studio, who co-produced the celebrated recording with Stuart Rosenberg and Jamie O’Reilly.  The recording is considered the mostly comprehensive contemporary American recording of these  songs, produced with Spanish Civil War veterans in the audience.


photo by Nia and Meg O’Reilly Amandes

Jamie traveled to Spain in 2008, and visited war memorials and battlegrounds with members of the “Amigos” of Spain and her daughters. She sang Jarama (words in poster) at a Museum dedicated to the Brigades. Read more here

Critics Praise of Pasiones

“They’re not just going through the motions; each and every song receives a passionate treatment worthy of the subject. Smith and O’Reilly demonstrate powerfully that the music by the people who fought and died [In the Spanish Civil War] resonates throughout time and space.” (Singout Magazine)

Pasiones features internationally acclaimed musicians Michael Smith and Jamie O’Reilly who reconnoiter the intricate Iberian rhythms with such closely fused harmony and razor clear enunciation as to seem a single voice.” (Critic’s Choice, Chicago Reader)

“A smartly professional cabaret trio performed the beloved Spanish Civil War songs-songs of haunting, sometimes astonishing beauty-with text from Hemingway and Bertold Brecht woven in.”  (Vanity Fair Magazine)

Other Pasiones-related appearances.

Songs from Pasiones are heard in the film

In 2009, Jamie co-hosted a screening of Julia Newman’s award-winning film  Into the Fire: American Women in the Spanish Civil War, for Women’s Media Group in cooperation with Facets Multimedia in Chicago. Jamie, Michael and Katrina are heard in the film.

The songs of Pasiones are discussed on, the blog of SCW aficionados; and also read more about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, The Volunteer Magazine.


Pasiones is a production of © J. O’Reilly Productions, Chicago
New songs © 1997 Bird Avenue Publishing, Michael P. Smith
Limited edition Pasiones CD at CDBaby no longer available