Classically Cuban Concert

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View pictures from the 2016 concert here.

Since 1994, FIU's Cuban Research Institute (CRI) has organized an annual concert series featuring music on Cuban themes by Cuban and other composers. The purpose of this public event is to celebrate, preserve, and promote the rich and diverse musical heritage of Cuba and its diaspora.

CRI held the 12th installment of its Classically Cuban concert series on December 6, 2016, at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center of the FIU School of Music on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

"We were happy to host pianist José Ruiz Elcoro this year," said CRI Director Jorge Duany. "He's an outstanding performer and musicologist and was accompanied by an excellent percussionist, Héctor Polanco. We also had a chance to hear a world-class opera singer, Eglise Gutiérrez."

This year's concert was entitled "A Century of Cuban Music, 1840–1940," and was devoted to concert and salon music in Cuba from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The program began with a sampling of the Island's romantic style, which had two main variants. One of them was based on the canons of Central European and Spanish music, and the other was based on typically Creole motifs, particularly those present in local genres like the contradanza, danza, danzón, and zarzuela. The program also included works that incorporate the impressionist style, as well as one example of 20th century avant-garde music. The program featured unknown and unreleased pieces, such as "Plegaria a Santa Bárbara," by Ernesto Lecuona.

The concert included other songs by Lecuona, such as "Negra Mercé," "Melancolía," and "Lloraba en sueños." Eight contradanzas were also played, including "La piragua" by Perucho Figueredo and "El abanico" by José White. In addition, the program featured several pieces from Cuban zarzuelas, such as the habanera "Flor de Yumurí," by Gustavo Sánchez Galarraga and Jorge Anckermann, and "María La O," by Sánchez Galarraga and Lecuona. The pièce de résistance was "Yo soy Cecilia Valdés," by Gonzalo Roig, sung by Eglise Gutiérrez.

Mr. Ruiz Elcoro is a distinguished Cuban pianist and musicologist, specializing in Ibero-American music. He is currently a pianist for the Miami City Ballet. He earned his B.A. in Philology at the University of Havana and graduated from the Ignacio Cervantes Conservatory in Havana. As a piano performer and lecturer, he has appeared in numerous stages and universities in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

Mr. Polanco completed his musical studies at the Provincial Musical Center of Santa Clara in Cuba. He cultivates several percussion instruments, including the timbales. In Cuba he performed with numerous musical groups. Once in the United States, he has formed part of several popular music bands and has performed in various musical stages.

Ms. Gutiérrez has sung in some of the most prestigious venues of the world. She made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, during the 2009–2010 season as Linda di Chamonix. She made her Berlin Deutsche Oper Debut as Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor. Ms. Gutiérrez has also appeared in concert in Prague, Cannes, Helsinki, and Miami, and in a U.S. tour with Andrea Bocelli. Ms. Gutiérrez graduated (Summa Cum Laude) from the Higher Institute of Art in Havana and from the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

The event was cosponsored by the FIU School of Music, the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC), Radio Mambí, WQBA, and El Nuevo Herald.

Click here to see pictures of the 2015 Classically Cuban concert.

To view videos and photographs of the 2014 concert, click here.

To read more about the 2013 concert, click here.